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Common Causes Of Bumps & White Spots On Penis & Foreskin

This situation may be familiar to many men: while taking a shower one day, you happen to notice some white spots on your foreskin. You do a double take as you lean down to inspect your manhood. What could it be? How long have they been there? The questions are aplenty as you instinctively reach for your smartphone to begin a Google search.

There are many conditions that can cause white spots to develop on the penis and foreskin. Some men may be born with them, while others may develop them as a result of poor hygiene practices or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It is important to know what the white spots are due to, as not all conditions require treatment. Listed below are some common causes of white spots on the foreskin and penis.


Pearly Penile Papules

Pearly penile papules (PPP) are small, dome-shaped or projection-like bumps that are located just below the head of the penis, usually arranged in a neat row. They can be white, flesh-coloured, yellow or translucent in colour. They do not cause any pain or itch. PPP is considered as a normal variant of the male penile anatomy, and are harmless bumps. It is not cancerous and there is no cancer risk. It is not a sexually transmitted infection and is not contagious. It is common and can occur in up to 38% of young men up to age 25.

PPP can be left alone and does not require treatment. However, for men who find them unsightly, they can be removed. Treatment options include laser therapy, cryotherapy and electrosurgery. 

READ: What are Pearly Penile Papules?


Fordyce Spots

Also known as Fordyce glands, these are harmless, small white or yellow bumps that are found on the foreskin. They are basically enlarged sebaceous glands, and can occur alone or in clusters. They do not cause any pain or itch. Fordyce spots can also commonly occur on the edges of your lips or on the inside of your cheeks.

Just like PPP, Fordyce spots are not cancerous and infectious, and also does not require treatment. Similarly, they can be removed if men find them unsightly. Treatment options include topical retinoid cream, oral isotretinoin, laser therapy and electrosurgery. 


Tyson’s Glands

Also known as preputial glands, Tyson’s glands are modified sebaceous glands that are found on the inner surface of the foreskin. They occur in pairs and are located on either side of the frenulum. These glands are also present on the hood of the clitoris in females. Tyson’s glands are normal structures and do not require treatment.  


Skin Tags

Skin tags are small, soft, flesh-coloured growths on the skin. They usually have a stalk and hang off the skin, and can vary in size from a few millimetres up to several centimetres. They tend not to grow on the penis itself, but rather, around the groin and scrotum. They often grow in areas where the skin folds and rubs against itself, and as such they are often also found on the neck, armpits, eyelids and under the breast. They affect men and women equally. Obesity, diabetes and pregnancy can increase the chances of occurrence.

Skin tags are benign tumours of the skin and do not require treatment. Occasionally, they may fall off on their own. People often wish to get them removed for aesthetic reasons, or if the skin tags are large and get in the way. Treatment options include cryosurgery, electrosurgery, ligation and excision.  

READ: Skin


Balanitis

Balanitis is inflammation of the foreskin and head of the penis. Spots can appear on the penile head or foreskin, and can be white or reddish. Other symptoms include redness, pain, itching, discharge, swelling and difficulty with retraction of the foreskin, and sometimes pain when passing urine. 

Balanitis can affect as many as 1 in 10 males, and can occur at any age. It is more likely to occur in uncircumcised men. The most common cause of Balanitis is a bacteria or fungal infection, or a combination of both. This can result from inadequate personal hygiene and/or phimosis (tight foreskin). There are non-infectious causes for balanitis as well. Risk factors for recurrent balanitis include diabetes, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. 

To investigate balanitis, your doctor may perform swab tests to identify the responsible organism. Treatment involves topical and/or oral anti-fungal and antibiotics. The long term solution to balanitis is a circumcision.

READ: Causes, symptoms and treatment of Balanitis.

Pimples

Pimples develop as a result of the pores of our skin being blocked by dead skin cells, sebum and other debris. The sebaceous gland continues to produce sebum and build up under the blockage, allowing bacteria to grow in the area, resulting in inflammation, infection and pain. They can occur anywhere on the body, including the penis.

Pimples can be left alone and usually resolve on their own without treatment. It is important to resist the urge to pop the pimples as this may lead to superimposed infection, scarring and hyperpigmentation. However, they may end up self erupting and discharge small amounts of pus. Treatments for pimples include topical over-the-counter creams such as benzoyl peroxide, antibiotic creams and, if more severe, oral antibiotics.

READ: Skin


Folliculitis

Folliculitis is an inflammation or infection of the hair follicles. It can occur anywhere on the body, including the penis, where it is frequently seen at the shaft or base of the penis, or the pubic area. Folliculitis tends to result from shaving, waxing or chafing of the hair follicles. The damage to the hair follicles allows bacteria to enter. Sometimes, ingrown hairs can also occur from hair removal treatments, eventually leading to folliculitis as well. Folliculitis can be painful and/or itchy. Treatment options include topical and/or oral antibiotics. 

READ: Common causes of penile itching and pubic itching


Genital Warts

Genital warts are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and can be spread via vaginal, oral or anal sex. They appear as flesh-coloured growths over the genitals that can cluster and resemble a cauliflower. Most of the time they do not have any symptoms but can sometimes itch. Bleeding can also occur during sexual intercourse. 

READ: Causes, symptoms and treatment for Genital Warts
READ: How to get rid of Genital Warts

Left alone, the warts can remain the same or increase in size and number. They will disappear once the body has shed the virus completely, typically over a course of 1 to 2 years. Treatment options include topical medications such as imiquimod, cryotherapy and electrosurgery. Vaccines are available to help prevent HPV infection, consider getting a HPV vaccination. 

READ: HPV Vaccination For Men
READ: Rapid HPV Testing

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) and is a sexually transmitted infection. Itching of the penis is usually the first symptom, and can occur in other areas such as the scrotum, groin, buttocks and anus. Shortly after, tiny clusters of painful blisters develop, which can then rupture and form shallow ulcers with crusts. Other symptoms include painful urination, enlarged groin lymph nodes, fever and body aches. The virus can lie dormant in the body for years without causing any symptoms, therefore some people may not even be aware that they are infected. 

Genital herpes can be diagnosed via swab testing of the lesions. When there are no symptoms, no treatment is required. Flares can be treated with oral and topical antiviral medications. There is unfortunately no cure for genital herpes, as the virus will permanently remain in the body.

READ: Rapid Herpes Testing

Molluscum Contagiosum

This is a benign infection of the skin caused by the Molluscum Contagiosum virus, resulting in painless, small, shiny pearl-shaped lesions. They can happen anywhere on the body as a result of physical contact, but when they occur on the genital area, it is usually as a result of sexual contact. The virus is thus spread via sexual contact, or even to another part of the person’s own body, from scratching the lesions and touching another part of the body. They can appear alone, or in clusters. They usually do not cause any symptoms, but can sometimes itch. 

Left alone, the lesions will eventually disappear once the body has shed the virus completely, typically over a course of several months to a year. Treatment options include topical medications such as salicylic acid, cryotherapy, laser therapy and curettage.

READ: Everything you need to know about Molluscum Contagiosum

In conclusion, do not panic if you notice white spots on your penis, as not all white spots require treatment.  Speak to your doctor for advice on white spots or bumps and request for an examination. 

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Everything You Need to Know About Molluscum Contagiosum

What is molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a fairly common skin infection or condition caused by a virus called Molluscum contagiosum, a type of poxvirus. It manifests as raised, pearly, flesh or skin coloured bumps which may sometimes have a central dimple (known as “central umbilication”).  

How does molluscum contagiosum spread?

Molluscum contagiosum is spread through skin contact with the virus. 
This can occur if you come into direct contact with someone else’s molluscum lesions, be it through sexual contact, or during contact sports like wrestling.
Unfortunately, the virus can survive on surfaces outside the body and can remain on infected surfaces like clothing, towels, gym equipment etc. Someone else who then comes into contact with these surfaces can get infected. 
In someone who is already infected, scratching or touching the lesions and then touching other parts of their body can result in the virus spreading. Shaving over infected skin can also spread the virus and worsen the infection. 
Once lesions resolve, an infected individual is no longer contagious. 

Who is affected by molluscum contagiosum?

Both children and adults alike can be infected by the virus. It is common amongst young children who may spread the virus through playing with each other. Lesions may occur anywhere – on the trunk, limbs, armpits, neck and possibly even face.
In adults, it is more commonly spread through sexual contact and may be considered an STD. The resultant lesions occur anywhere on the lower abdominal wall to the external genitalia and perineum. 
Individuals with weakened immune systems e.g. cancer patients or immunosuppressed patients, or individuals with skin conditions like eczema are at higher risk of being infected. 

What are the symptoms of molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum gives rise to shiny, pearly, skin coloured bumps which may range in number from few to many. These can occur anywhere on the body depending on where the virus inoculates the skin. These bumps are painless and can range in size from barely visible to several millimeters in size or larger. When lesions are larger, you may be able to notice a central dimple. 
In individuals with weakened immune system, lesions may be far more widespread e.g. >100 lesions.
Symptoms usually surface between 2 weeks to 2 months from initial infection, but can be delayed for up to half a year even. 

What are the complications of molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a benign and self-limiting condition. However, scratching lesions can result in scarring or secondary bacterial skin infections.

How is molluscum contagiosum diagnosed?

Molluscum contagiosum is diagnosed clinically i.e. by identification of the classic pearly skin bumps. If the lesions look atypical, a skin scraping of a bump may be useful – examination under a microscope will reveal “molluscum bodies” which confirms the diagnosis, but this is not routinely performed in most patients. 

How is molluscum contagiosum treated?

Treatment of molluscum contagiosum is not always necessary as the condition is self-limiting and lesions will eventually resolve by themselves without scarring. Most lesions will resolve within a year but can take longer than that. 
Treatment is recommended for:

  • Lesions around the genital or perianal region
  • If lesions are large 
  • In immunocompromised individuals with extensive lesions 

Various treatment methods available include:

  • Physical removal of lesions – with laser removal or cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen)
  • Topical creams or ointments e.g. podophyllotoxin application, imiquimod cream – but the efficacy of topical treatment may vary 
  • In immunocompromised individuals, usual treatment methods may fail and specific, special treatment (e.g. intralesional interferon) may be required 

How do I minimize my risk of getting molluscum contagiosum?

Good hygiene habits are crucial to minimize your risk of molluscum – regular hand washing, not sharing towels or sports equipment, wiping down equipment at the gym before usage, or covering equipment with your own towel rather than sitting or lying directly on it. Do not share razors or personal items. 
Avoid touching lesions if you are infected. Do not scratch, pick, or attempt to pop lesions. Shaving should also be avoided. Molluscum lesions should ideally be covered e.g. with a plaster to reduce the risk of transmission. 
Adults with lesions around their genital or perianal region should also avoid sexual contact until these have been treated. 
If you are concerned about any skin lumps or bumps and think you may have molluscum contagiosum, it is best to hold off attempting to treat it yourself (this may worsen the infection!) and see a doctor as soon as possible.
If you would like to find out more about molluscum contagiosum come down to any of our clinics for a consultation.

Common Causes of Penile Itching and Pubic Itching

A myriad of conditions can cause a man to have penile itching or pubic itching. The excruciating urge to scratch and relieve that itch at such an inconvenient part of the body can be a major source of embarrassment to some. When severe, it can result in extreme discomfort in the day, and disrupt one’s sleep at night.

 

Here are some of the causes of Penile Itching and Pubic Itching:

 

6 Common Causes of Penile Itch:

 

1. Balanitis

Balanitis is a common infection of the foreskin and head of the penis. It is caused by bacteria or fungus, or a combination of both.

Symptoms include redness, swelling, discomfort, penile itching, and sometimes pain when passing urine.
(See: Penile Infection, Infection of the Penis)

When fungal infection (candidiasis) is present, a whitish cottage cheese-like discharge can be found under the foreskin. Balanitis is often hygiene related, but can also be caused by STDs. It is more likely to occur in uncircumcised males.  Watch: What are the causes of Foreskin Infection (Balanitis)

2. Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). Itching of the penis (penile itching) is usually the first symptom and can occur in other areas such as the scrotum, groin, buttocks and anus.

Shortly after, tiny clusters of fluid-filled blisters or ulcers can develop and these are usually painful. Other symptoms include painful urination, enlarged groin lymph nodes, fever and body aches. The virus can lie dormant in the body for years without causing any symptoms, therefore some people may not even be aware that they are infected.

Read: Genital Blister, Genital Ulcers & Genital Warts & Causes of Oral Herpes (Cold Sore)

 

3. Genital Warts

Genital warts are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease. They appear as flesh-coloured growths that can cluster and resemble a cauliflower. Most of the time they do not have any symptoms but can sometimes itch. Bleeding can also occur during sexual intercourse.

Read: Genital Warts Treatment

 

4. Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a skin reaction to contact with an irritant. This can happen anywhere on the body, including the penis. When this happens, it is usually caused by latex condom usage. The skin of the penis can turn red and itchy.

Sometimes the skin can break causing serious discharge, and bacterial infection can occur. Mild cases can be treated with a corticosteroid cream. Non-latex condoms can be used if you have a latex allergy.

 

5. Urethritis

One of the causes of penile itching is Urethritis. Urethritis refers to inflammation of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body. This condition most often causes pain or itching in the penis, which worsens when passing urine.

Other symptoms include urethral discharge, urinary frequency or urgency, difficulty urinating, and blood in the semen. Urethritis is most commonly caused by a bacterial infection and can be sexually transmitted. See other STD Symptoms 

 

6. Psoriasis

Psoriasis on elbows.

Genital psoriasis often occurs alongside psoriasis of the skin. Skin cells develop at an extremely fast rate, resulting in the accumulation of skin cells on the skin surface, building up into itchy, red plaques of scaly skin.

5 Common Causes of Pubic Itch

 

1. Jock Itch

Also known as tinea cruris, jock itch is a fungal infection of the skin in the genital area, groin and buttocks. The rash is usually itchy, red, scaly and ring-shaped. It tends to occur in people who sweat a lot and/or are overweight.

 

2. Pubic Lice

More commonly known as crabs, these are tiny parasitic insects that attach to the hair and skin in the pubic region. Pubic lice can be easily spread via sexual contact or other forms of close contact, and can spread to other body areas with coarse hair such as beards, armpits and chest hair. It is also possible for pubic lice to spread by using an infected person’s clothes, towels, or bed.

 

3. Folliculitis

This is a condition in which hair follicles become inflamed and is usually caused by bacterial or fungal infection, or inflammation from ingrown hair. Initially, the affected hair follicles may have small red bumps or white-headed pimples, but can swell and become painful and subsequently develop into crusty sores.

 

4. Contact Dermatitis

As mentioned earlier, this condition can also occur in the pubic area.

 

5. Molluscum Contagiosum (mo-LUS-kum kun-tay-jee-OH-sum)

This is a benign viral infection of the skin and is caused by the molluscum contagiosum virus, resulting in painless, small, shiny pearl-shaped lesions. They can happen anywhere on the body as a result of contact, but when they occur in the genital area, it is usually as a result of sexual contact. They can appear alone or in clusters. They usually do not cause any symptoms, but can sometimes itch.

If you need to speak to our doctors, please visit our men’s clinics.  Alternatively, you can email us hello@dtapclinic.com or call us for an appointment.
Take Care.


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