Penis Spots

Reviewed by Frank Cockerill, MD, July 21, 2017

If spots on the penis are a new finding, it's understandable that someone would be anxious to determine the cause. Spots on the penis can either be normal penile skin findings just being noticed for the first time, or a symptom that signals the presence of a particular infection or disease. Below are some common and not-so-common causes of penile spots.

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Clear bumps on the penis

Clear bumps that surround the head of the penis, or pearly penile papules, are a normal skin finding in up to 10% of men, and should not be a cause for concern. Pearly penile papules don't come and go, they are always present for those who have them, but sometimes aren't noticed until someone is explicitly inspecting that area and discovers them for the first time.

A cluster of red spots

Genital herpes outbreaks appear as a cluster of red spots on the penis or in the genital area. The spots first appear fluid-filled and blister-like, but then burst and become red and scaly. These outbreaks are often painful.

A red painless ulcer

Syphilis is an STD that manifests itself with the appearance of a red, painless ulcer (called a chancre) in the early stages of infection. This ulcer typically heals in a matter of weeks, with or without treatment. However, syphilis will progress to later stages of infection if not properly treated, and a more widespread rash can occur. Secondary syphilis can produce a body-wide rash, with characteristic appearance on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

Itchy, red, raised spots

Scabies is a disease caused by a mite infestation that causes intense itching and red, raised spots on the glans (head) of the penis. The "rash" produced by scabies can also be found in the groin, in the spaces between fingers and toes, in the armpits, on the wrists, on the abdomen, the shins, and the ankles. Scabies can be transmitted sexually but can also be passed to others who come in close contact with an infected individual.

Raised, pearl-colored bumps

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral condition that can produce penile bumps. Molluscum spots are raised, pearly-colored bumps with a dip in the center, and can be transmitted both sexually and simply by close contact with an infected person. Typically the infection is self-limited, and no treatment is necessary.

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