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Why Is My Penis Purple? 6 Possible Causes

What should I do?

Any change in the appearance of your penis can be cause for concern. Is it a skin condition? An infection or complication? A circulation problem? A purple penis can mean any of these things.

If you notice a purple spot or other color change on your penis, you should have it evaluated by your doctor. If possible, see a urologist. Urologists specialize in the urinary and male reproductive systems, so they may be able to provide more information than your primary care doctor. Some conditions require more urgent attention than others.

You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience any severe pain or bleeding of the genitals.

Keep reading to learn more about the possible causes, as well as how they can be treated.

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Bruise

1. Bruise

Bruises develop when the tiny blood vessels under the skin’s surface break and leak blood. They’re usually the result of small, known injuries. For example, a zipper mishap, rough sex, or masturbation can cause bruising.

The bruise may be tender to the touch at first. If the impact was more severe, it may go through shades of deep purple to red as it heals. Bruising that results from high-impact injuries, such as from sports or other significant trauma, requires immediate medical attention.

Minor bruises are small and localized to the area of injury. If the bruise becomes larger, seek medical attention. Typically, a minor bruise fades without treatment within a few weeks. If it doesn’t, and if the pain and tenderness continue, see your doctor.

Hematoma

2. Hematoma

A hematoma is a deep bruise. Blood from a damaged blood vessel pools under the skin, creating a red or purple spot. Unlike a superficial bruise, which feels soft to the touch, a hematoma feels firm or lumpy. A hematoma can cause loss of blood flow. It can also be a sign of a dangerous bleeding event.

A hematoma can occur in any organ, including the penis. A hematoma on the penis requires urgent medical attention to evaluate the delicate tissues of the penis and testicles.

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Blood spot

3. Blood spot

Blood spots, also known as purpura, can appear purple or red, and they’re usually raised against the surface of your skin. Unlike a bruise or hematoma, blood spots aren’t caused by trauma. Blood spots are often a sign of a more serious condition.

The sudden appearance of a blood spot may be a sign of:

  • blood vessel inflammation
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • a reaction to certain medications
  • a bleeding or clotting problem

Seek medical attention so your doctor can diagnose a possible underlying condition.

Allergic reaction

4. Allergic reaction

Certain medications can trigger a serious allergic reaction known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome. It causes a red or purple rash on your genitals and other parts of your body. Painful sores and peeling skin often develop, leading to life-threatening complications.

The reaction can be caused by:

  • anticonvulsant medications
  • sulfa-based antibiotics
  • antipsychotic medications
  • ibuprofen (Advil)
  • naproxen (Aleve)
  • other antibiotics, such as penicillin

Stevens-Johnson syndrome is an emergency and requires immediate medical attention. If you suspect that a medication you’re taking is causing a less serious reaction, call your doctor.

You should immediately stop taking any over-the-counter medications, such as pain relievers. However, you should check with your doctor before stopping any prescription medications. They can advise you on how to safely come off of the medication and when to seek further evaluation.

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STI

5. Sexually transmitted infection (STI)

Red or purple sores can show up on your penis as a result of certain STIs. For example, genital sores are often one of the first signs of primary syphilis and genital herpes.

With either condition, you may also experience:

  • pain
  • itching
  • burning
  • painful urination
  • fever
  • fatigue

If you suspect that you’ve been exposed to an STI, see your doctor. Herpes, syphilis and other STIs can usually be treated and managed, though there may be lasting complications.

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Lichen sclerosus

6. Lichen sclerosus

Some rashes and skin conditions can appear anywhere on the body, including the penis. Lichen sclerosus, for example, usually targets the genitals.

Although this long-term inflammatory skin disorder typically causes white patches to develop on the skin, red or purple spots can form as the skin thins.

Lichen sclerosus is more common in men who aren’t circumcised. It can cause significant scarring and loss of normal sexual function. It requires the attention and treatment of a urologist.

Topical corticosteroid ointments can help, but many cases may require circumcision or other surgical procedures.

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See your doctor

When to see your doctor

If you know why a small bruise might have formed on your penis and you don’t have other symptoms, you don’t need to see your doctor right away.

But if a purple or red spot or a rash appears for an unknown reason, you should seek medical attention. Any significant trauma or immediate bruising to the genitals also requires an urgent medical evaluation.

You should also see your doctor if you experience:

  • blood spots or bruises in places that haven’t been injured
  • pain or abnormal swelling of the penis
  • blood in your stool
  • nosebleeds
  • blood in your urine
  • open sores on your penis or elsewhere on your body
  • pain when you urinate or engage in sexual activity
  • pain in your abdomen or joints
  • pain or swelling in your testicles

Your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms with you before examining your penis and genital area. Although a bruise can often be diagnosed by sight, your doctor may need to perform diagnostic testing, such as an ultrasound, to confirm or rule out any injury, infection or other condition. 

Article resources

Urinary and Kidney Team. (2014). Why you might be having pain in your penis. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/09/why-you-may-be-having-pain-in-your-penis/

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