It's often the case that men who have
never closely inspected their penis become alarmed by the discovery
of normal skin markings or
bumps on the penis that have always been
there, such as hair follicles,
oil glands, or the "bumpy" border
between the head and shaft of the penis (called
pearly penile papules)
. New or not usually present
bumps on the penis or in the genital area can also be due to non-STD causes,
irritation from shaving, rubbing on clothing,
an infected hair follicle, or an
allergic reaction to a new shampoo, soap, or lubricant.
Sometimes these skin findings can be easily confused with spots or bumps caused
by a sexually transmitted infection.
Penis bumps can be a sign of genital herpes
Even though some are normal, some penis bumps are caused by
sexually transmitted diseases. The most common STD that produces
bumps on the penis or skin in the genital area is
herpes type 2. Herpes
outbreaks are characterized by a cluster
(close grouping) of small, round blister-like spots that occur in the
These outbreaks are usually painful. Characteristically, the spots appear
to be filled with a clear fluid, and typically rupture in a few days' time.
After rupturing, the spots appear reddish and can have a crusty appearance.
They will continue to resolve over the course of several days to weeks,
until they are gone. In addition, sometimes the painless, red ulcer caused by
syphilis can be mistaken for a bump or sore caused by herpes.
HPV can cause bumps on the penis
Another STD that can produce small bumps on
penis or surrounding area is human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus
that causes genital warts.
Typically, warts are found in small
clusters, are the same color as the surrounding skin, and grow
in patches. They are typically not painful. Unlike
herpes bumps which come and go, genital warts are persistent.
Getting tested for STDs can help determine the cause of bumps
Many times it's difficult to tell whether a spot or group of bumps is
caused by an STD, or is due to some other cause. The only way to know for
sure is to get tested.