What Causes White Spots to Form on Your Testicles?

Medically reviewed by Elaine K. Luo, MD on November 16, 2017Written by Tim Jewell

Is this cause for concern?

Many things can cause white spots to form on your testicles. For example, they could be caused by a condition you were born with, or they may develop if you don’t bathe often enough. White spots are also a common symptom of certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Read on to learn more about what may be causing your symptoms and how to treat it.

1. Ingrown hair

Ingrown hairs occur when trimmed or shaved hairs curl and grow backward into your skin. This leads to irritation, and irritation can lead to infection.

If infection occurs, it can produce bacteria-filled pus that makes spots of irritation look white. These spots can get itchy, but you shouldn’t scratch or try to pop them. Doing so can make an infection worse.

You’re more likely to develop ingrown hairs if you have:

  • thick hair
  • curly hair

What treatment options are available?

Ingrown hairs are only temporary and will often resolve without treatment. If you want to speed the process along, you can:

  • use a gentle exfoliant on the area to help loosen up dead skin cells and allow the hair to break through
  • apply tea tree oil or a similar antiseptic substance to soothe inflammation
  • apply over-the-counter steroid creams, like hydrocortisone (Cortizone-10), to ease itching

If the hair hasn’t released itself from the skin after a week of home treatment, see your doctor. They can remove the hair using a sterile needle and prescribe an antibiotic cream to help prevent infection.

2. Pimple

Pimples develop when dead tissue or oil gets stuck in your pores, causing a blockage. This allows bacteria to grow and fill the pore with infected pus. Infected pus is what makes the head of a pimple appear white.

Pimples are usually harmless and will clear in time. You shouldn’t pop a pimple. This can make the inflammation worse or lead to permanent scars. You should let pimples disappear on their own.

What treatment options are available?

You can help heal pimples by applying benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to the affected area. This will help clear bacteria, oil, and excess skin cells. However, you shouldn’t use acne medication intended for your face or other parts of your body on your testicles.

3. Jock itch

Jock itch, also known as tinea cruris, can develop if fungus infects the area around your genitals, butt, and thighs. It’s usually caused by excessive sweating, which is why it’s often associated with athletes. It can also be caused by a fungal overgrowth around your genitals due to poor hygiene or obesity.

In addition to white spots, you may experience:

  • red bumps or spots
  • a circular red rash
  • small blisters around the rash
  • dry, flaky skin

What treatment options are available?

Adopting good hygiene practices can help clear jock itch quickly.

This includes:

  • washing regularly, especially after activities that cause you to sweat
  • wearing loose-fitting cotton underwear to allow air flow
  • applying a sweat-absorbent powder or spray

You can also use an over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal cream, like clotrimazole (Lotrimin), or steroid ointment, like hydrocortisone (Cortizone-10), to help ease your symptoms.

If your symptoms don’t clear after a week or two, see your doctor. They may prescribe an antibiotic like terbinafine (Lamisil) to clear the infection.

4. Pilar cysts

Pilar cysts can develop when a hair follicle gets filled with keratin, a protein that makes up your nails and hair. This can cause a white or red bump to appear where the follicle is.

These cysts typically form in areas of dense hair, like your scalp or scrotum, and often appear in clusters. They can swell if they get infected, making them larger and more irritating or painful.

What treatment options are available?

If you suspect that you have a pilar cyst, see your doctor. They may recommend:

  • Enucleation: Your doctor will use tools to pull the cyst out of the follicle. This process shouldn’t damage your skin or the surrounding tissues.
  • Micro-punch surgery: Your doctor will use a device that pokes through your skin to remove the cyst and its surrounding tissues through the follicle opening.

5. Folliculitis

Folliculitis occurs when the follicles that hold your hair become inflamed or infected. This may result from a bacterial infection, fungal infection, or ingrown hair.

Although folliculitis can be itchy, it usually isn’t harmful unless it results from an infection that goes untreated.

You should see your doctor right away if you begin experiencing:

  • burning or itching
  • pus or discharge from white bumps or blisters
  • pain or tenderness around the bumps

What treatment options are available?

Folliculitis can usually be treated with OTC antibacterial or antifungal cream, such as Neosporin or Terrasil.

If your condition doesn’t improve within a week, see your doctor. They may recommend prescription antibiotics, such as cephalexin (Keflex) or doxycycline (Dynacin). In severe cases, they may also recommend procedures to drain and clean larger infections.

If you frequently get folliculitis, your doctor may recommend laser surgery to remove the hair follicles.

6. Fordyce spots

Fordyce spots happen when sebaceous glands, which moisturize your skin and are usually covered by your outer layer of skin, become enlarged and appear as tiny white spots.

These spots are harmless. They can appear almost anywhere on your body, including your scrotum and penis. You’re usually born with them, though they may not appear until you go through puberty.

What treatment options are available?

Your doctor usually won’t recommend treatment unless you want them removed.

Your options for removal may include:

  • Topical treatment: Your doctor may recommend tretinoin (Avita) or bichloracetic acid to help remove the tissue.
  • Laser treatment: Your doctor will use laser surgery to remove tissue and minimize the appearance of Fordyce spots.
  • Micro-punch surgery: Your doctor will use a device to poke through your skin and remove the tissue that’s causing the Fordyce spots.

7. Genital warts as a result of HPV

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is an STI that’s spread through unprotected sex. Genital warts are a common symptom. These warts resemble white or red bumps, and may appear around your scrotum and genital area.

Genital warts don’t usually last long or cause any long-term complications. They may remain longer if your immune system is weak or if you pass the infection back and forth with multiple sexual partners.

What treatment options are available?

If you suspect that you have genital warts or HPV, see your doctor for diagnosis.

They may recommend:

  • Topical medication. Your doctor will apply a solution that can help your immune system clear the wart.
  • Laser surgery. Your doctor will use laser surgery to break apart and remove the warts.
  • Cryosurgery. Your doctor will use liquid nitrogen to freeze the warts, which will cause them to break off of your genital area.

8. Genital warts as a result of herpes

Herpes is a viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. Genital warts, which look like white or red bumps, are a common symptom.

Other symptoms may include:

  • redness
  • irritation
  • itching
  • blisters that burst and release pus

What treatment options are available?

If you suspect that you have genital warts or the herpes simplex virus, see your doctor for diagnosis.

Your doctor will likely prescribe antiviral medication to help your body fight the infection. Although these medications won’t prevent future outbreaks, they can help speed up the healing time of your sores and reduce pain.

Common options include:

These medications may be taken at the first sign of an outbreak to help reduce your symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend anesthetic ointments, such as lidocaine (Lidoderm) to help reduce your discomfort.

When to see your doctor

White spots that appear on your testicles aren’t always a cause for concern. They usually disappear within a few days or weeks. If your symptoms last longer than a week or two, see your doctor for diagnosis.

See your doctor if you begin experiencing:

  • pain
  • swelling
  • dry, cracked skin
  • irritation or redness
  • rash
  • clear or white discharge
  • clusters of 20 or more red or white bumps

Sometimes, white spots on your testicles are a sign of an STI or other infection. These can lead to long-term complications if left untreated, so it’s important to see your doctor if you suspect this to be the cause.

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