There are several reasons one can develop papules or bumps on penis. It may be either due to non-infectious cause like pearly penile papules and Fordyce spots or may be due to sexually transmitted disease like genital warts. It is obvious to fear when someone gets bumps on penis or anywhere around genital areas but not every bumps are sexually transmitted, in fact most of the bumps around penis are harmless. Being said that, it is always wise to visit the doctor and confirm the case rather than trying to diagnose your-self just by looking picture on internet.
Molluscum contagiosum are small dome-shaped and painless pearly flesh-colored bumps with central depression. MC can occur in penis, scrotum, inner thigh or any other parts of the body. Early lesion may be confused with genital warts or herpes but unlike herpes they are painless and have distinguishing features like pearly bumps with central depression. Molluscum Contagiosum is harmless and is usually self-limited which gradually resolves over several months.
Pearly Penile Papules
Pearly penile papules, also called as hirsuties papillaris genitalis or hirsuties coronae glandis are small dome-shaped, skin-colored bumps seen on sulcus or corona of the glans penis. These papules are arranged in one or several rows around the base of the head of the penis. They are commonly seen in men with uncircumcised penis. They are usually asymptomatic and may persist throughout the life. No treatment is necessary for pearly penile papules except for cosmetic purpose.
Fordyce spots are extremely common skin lesion occurring in around 80% to 95% of the total population. Fordyce spots can be commonly seen on glans penis, shaft of penis and scrotum and are usually multiple small, pinhead, painless, yellowish or whitish focally grouped macules or papules. Fordyce spots are non-infectious and totally harmless so, no treatment is required.
Genital warts or Condyloma Acuminata
Genital warts are pink to skin-colored bumps commonly seen on perianal areas, shaft of penis and scrotum. They are very common viral infection caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) which are acquired through sexual contact. Some people may never develop signs and symptoms but most develop lesion within 1-3 months of sexual contact with the partner. However, for some individuals it may take several months to years for warts to be clinically apparent. Genital warts initially starts with small, smooth or rough, flesh-colored bump and gradually increase in number and size which may be arrange in a groups resembling cauliflower appearance. Sometimes giant cauliflower like appearance may be seen on glans penis, foreskin and perianal areas which is termed as giant condyloma acuminata. Some papers suggest that they may represent a malignant transformation, verrucous carcinoma (VC).
Lichen Nitidus appear as small tiny clusters of red, brown violet or skin-colored shiny bumps with flat-topped. They are relatively uncommon and may appear on genitals. Although most of the lesions are asymptomatic, some may complain of mild itching. The cause of lichen Nitidus is unclear. Lichen Nitidus is harmless and no treatment is required.
Angiokeratoma are harmless lesion commonly seen on scrotum, shaft of penis and glans penis in men. They appear as tiny black, blue, or dark red dome-shaped bumps with scaly surface. Although most of the cases are asymptomatic few may be associated with pain and itching. In young individuals the lesion tend to be smaller red and less scaly, while larger, dark blue or black with more scales in old individuals. Although angiokeratoma of the scrotum is often considered as harmless condition, it has the potential to cause considerable worry and distress to patients.
Bowenoid papulosis usually occurs in young sexually active individuals. Bowenoid papulosis appear as single or multiple, small red, brown to flesh-colored bumps with flat or rough surface. Lesion occurs most commonly on shaft of penis, although it can occur anywhere around ano-genital areas. They are caused by human papillomavirus (the virus that causes genital warts) and are sexually transmitted and shares clinical similarities with genital warts. They are most commonly caused by HPV 16. Bowenoid papulosis is considered to be transitional state between genital warts and Bowen disease and has potential to be malignant.
Scrotal calcinosis is an uncommon harmless condition characterized by slowly growing multiple, painless, hard scrotal papules or nodules that occur in the presence of normal calcium and phosphate metabolism.
Syringoma that are localized on penis are thought to be rare dermatological condition. Only few cases of syringoma of the penis are documented in English literature. Clinically, syringoma on the penis appear as small asymptomatic yellow-brown or skin-colored bumps that may be localized on back or lateral surface of shaft of penis. Syringoma are harmless lesion and no treatment is required.
Although not quite common, milia on penis can be occasional findings in men. These are again harmless and can be treated simply by unroofing the with a tip of a needle and extracting the contents. This is often quick and painless procedure.
There are several other disease and condition that can develop on scrotum or penis some of which are listed below. Please be warned that several other disease can also develop on genital areas that has not been discussed in this articles. To know more about skin colored, pigmented or red bumps on penis please refer to another article here
- Seborrheic keratosis
- Penile epidermoid cysts
- Lichen planus
- Lichen nitidus
- Secondary syphilis
- Epidermoid cyst
- Mucinous syringometaplasia
- Acrochordons (skin tags)
- Melanocytic nevus
- Venous varicosities
- Granuloma annulare
- Nevus comedonicus
- Pseudo-Kaposi sarcoma
- Carcinoma erysipeloids
- Lipoid proteinosis
- Insect bite and tick bite
- Primary lymphogranuloma venereum
- Primary granuloma inguinale