Bumps on Penis

Reviewed by Frank Cockerill, MD, July 21, 2017

Many men who are worried about possible STD exposure become hyper-aware of any never-before noticed lumps or bumps on the penis.

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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, such as 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 gential region. 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.

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