Finding bumps on the head of your penis can be alarming, but most of the time bumps in this area are not serious. They don’t always mean you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or other serious health issue.
Bumps on the head of the penis are fairly common and often part of your penis’ normal anatomy.
Let’s take a look at what can cause bumps in this area, other symptoms to be aware of, and what can be done about them.
Tyson glands are tiny sebaceous glands that form on either side of the frenulum, which is the fold of connective tissue under the penis. They appear as small yellow or white bumps under the penis head.
They are considered normal structures and are harmless. No treatment is required.
Fordyce spots are small yellowish or white bumps on the penis head, shaft, or foreskin. They are enlarged sebaceous glands and considered harmless.
Fordyce spots don’t require treatment, but options are available if the appearance of the spots is causing you distress. These include laser therapy and some topical and oral treatments. A dermatologist can help determine the best option for you.
Pearly penile papules
Pearly penile papules (PPPs) are benign flesh-colored, pinkish, or white bumps under the penis head. They are very common and not of medical concern. They typically form around the head of the penis or just under it, and range in size.
PPPs don’t need to be treated (they often regress over time), but some people have them removed for cosmetic reasons. Doctors don’t generally recommend removal unless you’re experiencing severe concern or embarrassment over the appearance of the papules. Treatment options include cryosurgery or laser therapy.
Inverse psoriasis can cause your skin to look red and tight, along with pain and itching. Plaque psoriasis can cause raised patches of skin with silvery or white areas and may appear as patches or small red bumps on head of the penis or the shaft.
You can use mild, fragrance-free OTC moisturizers to treat psoriasis at home and help relieve itching. Wear loose, comfortable clothing to prevent friction.
A dermatologist can recommend the best treatment for your genital psoriasis. Topical medications, such as low-dose corticosteroid cream, may be prescribed to relieve inflammation, pain, and itching. Oral and injectable psoriasis treatments are also available.
Lichen sclerosus is a skin condition that causes patches of thin, shiny white skin, usually in the genital or anal regions. The patches can be flat or slightly raised and may also be itchy or painful, especially during intercourse. Being uncircumcised may increase your risk.
People with lichen sclerosus have a slightly higher risk for developing skin cancer in the affected area.
Keep the area clean and dry by carefully washing the skin using mild soaps that don’t contain harsh chemicals. Monitor the area for signs of skin cancer.
A doctor may prescribe a topical steroid or immune-modulating medication. Foreskin removal is recommended for people with severe cases who are uncircumcised.
Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the most
Several warts close together can create a cauliflower-like appearance. Itching and bleeding are also possible.
Home treatments for genital warts are available, but there is little evidence to support their effectiveness. OTC wart treatments can cause severe irritation and should not be used in the genital area.
Genital warts often go away on their own, but HPV can linger in your cells and cause future outbreaks. Treatment can help relieve your symptoms and may include prescription topical wart treatments.
Genital herpes is a common STI caused by the herpes simplex virus typically spread through sexual contact. Genital herpes cause small red bumps or white blisters on the penis. Ulcers can also form when blisters rupture, followed by scabbing.
Keep the infected area clean and dry. Use mild cleansers with warm water when showering or bathing. Wear loose cotton fabrics to keep the area comfortable.
There’s no cure for genital herpes, but treatment with antiviral medications can help sores heal faster, lessen the severity and duration of symptoms, and reduce the frequency of recurrence. Medications include Acyclovir (Zovirax) and Valacyclovir (Valtrex).
Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin condition that causes firm, round painless bumps on the skin. They can range in size from a pin dot to a pea and form in clusters. The condition is most common in children.
In a healthy adult, molluscum contagiosum involving the genitals is considered an STI. You may notice lumps on your abdomen, groin, and thighs, as well as the penis. The condition is highly contagious as long as you have lumps.
Don’t touch the bumps or shave the area, to avoid spreading the virus to other areas. Avoid sexual contact as long as you have bumps.
The virus usually goes away without treatment within 6 to 12 months. Treatment to remove the lumps is often recommended because they are so contagious. Options include scraping, cryosurgery, and topical treatments.
Syphilis is an STI caused by bacteria. The first sign of the infection is a small sore called a chancre that develops around three weeks after exposure. It usually develops where the bacteria entered your body.
Many people develop only one chancre, but some develop several. Syphilis happens in stages and left untreated, can cause serious complications that affect your heart and brain.
Penicillin, an antibiotic, is the preferred treatment for all stages. One single injection can stop the disease from progressing if given less than a year after infection. Otherwise, additional doses may be needed.
Penile cancer is very rare. Symptoms caused by penile cancer can also be caused by other conditions. The first sign of penile cancer is usually a change in the skin of the penis, usually on the tip or the foreskin. Symptoms include:
- small crusty bumps on the head of the penis or foreskin
- changes in skin color or thickness
- flat bluish-brown growths
- a lump or sore
- red velvety rash under the foreskin
- smelly discharge or bleeding
Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer. Surgery is the main treatment used, but radiation therapy may also be used instead or in addition to surgery. Other treatments include local treatments and chemotherapy.
A doctor will physically examine your genitalia, and ask about your sexual history. Some bumps on the head of the penis can be diagnosed just based on their appearance. Depending on the findings, a doctor may take a tissue sample or a blood test to check for an STI or other condition.
Even though bumps on the head of your penis are often caused by harmless conditions, they should still be evaluated by a doctor to rule out an underlying condition that needs treatment.
See a doctor right away if you think you’ve been exposed to or have symptoms of an STI, or if you are experiencing pain or bleeding.
Bumps on the head of your penis can be caused by a number of things, some more serious than others. See a doctor about any changes that concern you.