Noticed any new, concerning symptoms involving your penis? They could be a sign of many things, from a harmless skin condition to a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that needs treatment.

Read on to learn how to identify a range of penis diseases, and when it’s time to see a doctor.

Here’s a look at some of the more common conditions that can affect your penis.


Balanitis happens when the head of your penis becomes irritated and inflamed. You’re more likely to develop it if you aren’t circumcised.

Symptoms include:

  • foreskin swelling and redness
  • foreskin tightness
  • unusual discharge from your penis head
  • pain or itching around your genital area
  • sensitive, painful genital skin

Yeast infection

Yes, males can get yeast infections too. This is a type of infection that’s caused by a fungus. It tends to start as a red rash, but you may also notice white, shiny patches on the skin of your penis.

Other symptoms of a penile yeast infection include:

  • unusually moist penis skin
  • a chunky, cottage cheese-like substance beneath the foreskin or other skin folds
  • a burning sensation in the skin of your penis
  • itchiness

Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) happens when you can’t get or maintain an erection. It isn’t always a cause for medical concern, as stress and anxiety are common triggers for occasional ED. But if it’s happening regularly, it may a sign of an underling health problem.

ED symptoms include:

  • trouble getting an erection
  • difficulty keeping an erection during sex
  • loss of interest in sex

Premature ejaculation

Premature ejaculation (PE) happens when you release semen during sexual activity earlier than desired — usually after less than a minute of intercourse or masturbation.

PE isn’t necessarily a health problem, but it can interrupt sexual pleasure and cause relationship issues for some.

You don’t need to worry if PE happens once in a while. But if it happens often, you might want to talk to your doctor about treatment options, including sexual strategies or counseling.

Peyronie’s disease

Peyronie’s disease is a type of ED that happens when scar tissue causes your penis to bend or curve unusually.

A slight penis curve is completely normal. But the curve associated Peyronie’s disease is usually more distinct. It can result from a penis injury or trauma that causes scar tissue, called plaque, to build up.

Symptoms include:

  • sharp bend or curve of the penis
  • hard lumps or tissue on the bottom or side of your penis shaft or all the way around
  • pain or discomfort when you get hard or ejaculate
  • penis shrinkage or shortening

The following penis conditions tend to be more serious, but they’re also less common.


Priapism refers to having painful erections that last for more than four hours.

There are two types of priapism:

  • low-flow (ischemic),which involves blood getting stuck in the tissues of your penis
  • high-flow (nonischemic),which is caused by broken blood vessels affecting the flow of blood in and out of your penis

Other priapism symptoms include:

  • a hard penis shaft with soft head
  • pain or throbbing sensations in your penis

Seek emergency medical attention if an erection lasts four or more hours, as pooled blood loses oxygen and can cause permanent damage.

Retrograde ejaculation

Retrograde ejaculation happens when muscles that usually keep semen out of your bladder don’t work properly. This allows semen to flow into your bladder during an orgasm. Some people refer to this as a dry orgasm.

This is usually easy to recognize, as you won’t have any semen come out when you ejaculate. You may also notice that your urine looks cloudy, due to the presence of semen.


Anorgasmia, or orgasmic dysfunction, happens when you can’t have an orgasm.

Four types of anorgasmia are possible:

  • Primary anorgasmia means you’ve can’t reach orgasm and never have.
  • Secondary anorgasmia means you can’t reach orgasm, but you have in the past.
  • Situational anorgasmia means you can only orgasm from certain activities, such as masturbation or specific sexual acts.
  • General anorgasmia means you’ve never been able to reach orgasm, even though you feel sexually aroused and close to ejaculating.

Penile cancer

While very rare, you can get cancer in your penis. This is known as penile cancer. If left untreated, it can spread to other areas of your body, so make sure to see your doctor if you have any symptoms of penile cancer.

Potential symptoms include:

  • an unusual bump or lump on your penis
  • redness
  • swelling
  • unusual discharge
  • burning sensation
  • itchiness or irritation
  • changes in skin color or thickness
  • blood in your urine or semen
  • bleeding

Penile fracture

A penile fracture happens when you injure your penis and damage the tissues that make your penis hard when you have an erection.

Symptoms of a penile fracture include:

  • popping or snapping sound
  • immediately losing your erection
  • intense pain
  • bruising or discoloration on penis skin
  • unusual penis bending
  • bleeding from your penis
  • trouble peeing

It’s important to seek immediate treatment for a penile fracture to avoid any long-term complications or permanent damage.


Lymphangiosclerosis happens when a lymph vessel in your penis hardens, forming a bulge under your skin. This makes it look like there’s a thick cord around the base of your penis head or along your penile shaft.

Other symptoms of lymphangiosclerosis include:

  • redness or irritation on your genital area, anus, or upper thighs
  • pain when you urinate
  • pain during sexual activity involving your penis
  • lower back or lower abdominal pain
  • swollen testicles
  • clear or cloudy discharge from your penis
  • fatigue
  • fever

Phimosis and paraphimosis

Phimosis happens when you can’t pull back the foreskin from your penis head. This is a harmless condition that doesn’t require treatment unless it starts to interfere with normal functioning, such as erections or urination.

Paraphimosis is the opposite issue — your foreskin can’t be pulled forward over your penis head. Your foreskin can swell, cutting off blood flow. This is a medical emergency.

Many skin conditions can also affect the penis. Some can affect any part of your body, while others only involve the penis.


Genital psoriasis happens when you develop rash-like outbreaks as a result of your immune system attacking healthy tissue. This can affect your penis, buttocks, and thighs.

Psoriasis causes patches of dry, scaly skin. In more severe cases, the skin may crack and bleed, making you more susceptible to infections, including some STIs.

Treating psoriasis can be tricky, so it’s best to work with a doctor to find the most effective treatment plan.

Lichen planus

Lichen planus is another immune system condition that can cause a rash on your penis. It’s similar to psoriasis, but lichen planus rashes are bumpier. Learn more about the differences between psoriasis and lichen planus.

Other symptoms of lichen planus include:

  • purplish, discolored bumps on your penis that spread beyond your genital area
  • itchiness
  • white lesions in your mouth that can burn or cause pain
  • pus-filled blisters
  • lines on top of your rash

Pearly penile papules

Pearly penile papules, or hirsutoid papillomas, are tiny bumps that develop around your penis head. They usually go away on their own over time. They appear more commonly in people who haven’t been circumcised.

Pearly penile papules are usually:

  • smooth to the touch
  • about 1 to 4 millimeters (mm) in diameter
  • seen as one or two rows around your penis head base
  • visually similar to pimples, but without any pus

Lichen sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus happens when your skin develops shiny, white, thin patches or spots of skin around your genitals or anus. It can also appear anywhere on your body.

Other symptoms of lichen sclerosis on your penis include:

  • mild to severe itchiness
  • genital pain or discomfort
  • pain during sexual activity involving your penis
  • thin skin that’s easily bruised or injured

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a type of skin rash or outbreak that results from exposure to an allergen, irritant, or sun exposure. It usually only appears when you’re exposed to the irritant and goes away soon after.

Symptoms of contact dermatitis include:

  • unusually dry, flaky, or bumpy skin
  • blisters that pop and ooze
  • red or burning skin
  • tough, discolored skin
  • sudden and intense itchiness
  • genital swelling

Fordyce spots

Fordyce spots are small bumps that can appear on your penis and scrotum. They’re a harmless result of enlarged oil glands.

Fordyce spots are:

  • 1 to 3 mm in diameter
  • yellow-white, red, or flesh-colored
  • painless

Skin cancer

While skin cancer is more common in areas that get a lot of sun exposure, it can also affect areas of skin that tend to be covered, including your penis.

If you have any new spots or growths on your penis, check to see if they:

  • don’t seem to be going away
  • have halves that aren’t symmetrical
  • have edges
  • are white, black, or red in color
  • are larger than 6 mm
  • change shape, size, or color over time

Most people’s minds go straight to STIs when they notice unusual symptoms involving their penis. If you have an STI, it’s important to get treatment right away to avoid spreading it to your sexual partners. You should also try to abstain from any sexual activity until it clears up completely.


Chlamydia is a bacterial infection spread through unprotected genital or anal sex.

It doesn’t always cause symptoms at first. But over time it can cause:

  • burning sensation when urinating
  • yellow or green discharge
  • testicular or abdominal pain
  • pain when you ejaculate
  • fever

Genital herpes

Genital herpes is a viral infection caused by the herpes simplex (HSV-1 or HSV-2) virus. You can contract an HSV infection from unprotected genital, anal, or oral sex. The virus can be spread through saliva or genital fluids.

Symptoms include of genital herpes include:

  • blisters
  • itching or tingling before blisters appear
  • blisters that pop and ooze before crusting over
  • swelling in your lymph nodes
  • head or body aches
  • fever

Genital warts and HPV

Genital warts are small, soft bumps caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is one of the most common STIs for all sexes.

Genital warts tend to pop up several weeks after you’ve had unprotected genital, oral, or anal sex.

These bumps are generally:

  • small
  • flesh-colored
  • cauliflower-shaped
  • smooth to the touch
  • found in clusters


Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which isspread through unprotected genital, oral, or anal sex.

Similar to chlamydia, gonorrhea doesn’t always cause symptoms.

But when it does, they include:

  • pain or burning sensations when you urinate
  • frequent urination
  • redness or swelling at the tip of your penis
  • testicular pain and swelling
  • sore throat


Syphilis is a bacterial infection caused by Treponema pallidum. It doesn’t always cause symptoms at first, but if untreated, it can become life-threatening.

Syphilis has four stages, each with its own tell-tale symptoms:

  • primary syphilis, which is marked by a small, painless sore
  • secondary syphilis, which is marked by skin rashes, sore throat, headaches, fever, and joint aches
  • latent syphilis, which doesn’t cause any symptoms
  • tertiary syphilis, which can cause loss of vision, hearing, or memory, as well as brain or spinal cord inflammation


Trichomoniasis is a common infection caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis, which is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse.

Only about 30 percent of people with trichomoniasis have symptoms, which can include:

  • unusual urethral discharge
  • burning when you pee or ejaculate
  • frequent urination

Not all penis conditions require medical treatment, and some may clear up on their own.

But it’s best to make an appointment if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • unusually colored semen
  • unusual penis discharge
  • blood in your urine or semen
  • unusual rashes, cuts, or bumps on your penis and surrounding areas
  • burning or stinging when you urinate
  • bending or curving of your penis that hurts when you’re erect or when you ejaculate
  • intense, long-lasting pain after a penis injury
  • suddenly losing desire in sex
  • fatigue
  • fever