A pimple in an area as sensitive as the genitals means discomfort, anguish, annoyance, and, for some, embarrassment.
Pimples are not necessarily a sign of a serious illness. However, not all men are willing to discuss it comfortably and openly with a doctor.
In the following article we will provide you with the basic information that you should know if you have this condition and want to know how to prevent it.
What are pimples on the penis?
Pimples on the penis is a skin rash, a similar reaction that causes pimples on the face or anywhere else.
The skin, including the surface of the penis, is replete with pores through which the sebaceous glands in the skin secrete sebum, composed mainly of essential oils, to lubricate the skin.
Sebum, sweat, dead cells and a high number of keratinocytes (hyperkeratosis) are mixed together. This network of substances occludes the outlet pores of the sebaceous glands.
This accumulation favors infections by Propionibacterium acnes. These microorganisms trigger the release of inflammatory molecules (leucines), free radicals and activation of immune cells.
This injures the skin and destroys its normal structure. In addition, discharge is produced by the infection, the reason behind the whitish appearance of certain pimples.
Causes of pimples on the penis
The mechanisms that we describe are the final common pathway of various conditions that trigger changes in the penile skin.
Next, we will show you a list of possible causes that cause pimples.
When the hair shaft does not grow outwards, from its root deep into the hair follicle. When it grows towards the inside of the dermis or hair follicle, it is called an ingrown hair.
It can occur anywhere on our body where hair grows, including the groin and base of the penis.
The lesion is reddish, raised, it can acquire a yellowish-white or greenish color if discharge occurs inside it. In its center, you can see a black point, which is the ingrown hair.
Ingrown hairs cause discomfort, irritation, and pain, especially when rubbing against the area. If they are not treated, they can become complicated and be the seat of a bacterial or fungal infection.
Wherever hair grows, there are also sebaceous glands. Some located within the skin and others, less frequent, on the surface of the skin.
These external (or ectopic) glands are known as Fordyce pimples. When found on the surface of the penis, they are called Tyson’s glands.
They are soft, creamy-yellowish granules that can be located both in the oral mucosa and in the genital mucosa. Fordyce papules can grow along the shaft of the penis.
Also called pearly papules, they are benign and painless lesions that occur along the edge of the glans penis.
We must clarify that the term injury is any alteration of the normal structure of the body, but it does not necessarily mean that they are adverse to our health. They are completely benign.
They are often cause for concern because of their similarity to injuries caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
They are rare in prepubertal children. Their appearance begins in the late stages of puberty and may disappear over time.
It is rare in circumcised men, possibly due to abrasion of the exposed glans penis that stimulates regression of these papules.
Although they are benign, they can cause excessive embarrassment or anxiety in some men. Among the best-known treatments, we have cryotherapy and CO2 laser ablation.
A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology verified the effectiveness of cryogenic therapy. It was administered to patients for two weeks; 80%-90% of the lesions disappeared without any complications.
Sexually transmitted diseases
Multiple infections, viral or bacterial, generate lesions at the level of the penis. Repeatedly, men panic or become anxious by mistaking benign lesions (like the ones we’ve already described) for STDs. It is important to recognize the difference.
During syphilis, papules (chancre) form in the area of contact. They are painless, hard and yellowish. They may be accompanied by involvement of the lymph nodes in the genital area.
Unlike other benign lesions, syphilis produces other symptoms such as papules on the palm and soles of the hands and feet, respectively, flu-like symptoms, hepatitis, neurological problems, and many more symptoms.
The chancroid or soft chancre generates papules that evolve into deep and painful ulcers. The lesions can heal spontaneously or scar.
The herpes simplex virus type 2 or genital herpes generates non-raised lesions (macules) that evolve into papules, vesicles, pustules, ulcers and, finally, scabs.
They mainly affect the glans or root of the penis. They generate intense and deep pain, accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, headache, malaise, muscle pain and more.
HIV, after an incubation period of 3 to 6 weeks, begins to alter the functions of the immune system.
As the disease progresses, cutaneous manifestations (both on the penis and the rest of the skin) occur, characteristic of superimposed infection of fungi, viruses, and bacteria.
They are ectopic (superficial) sebaceous glands, similar to those of Fordyce. They can be seen on both sides of the frenulum.
They are normal variants of the penile anatomy, therefore they do not require treatment and should not be causes for concern.
It is a chronic affectation of the skin where whitish and shiny papules occur, due to hardening and atrophy of the skin, accompanied by inflammation of the glans penis and foreskin .
They affect primarily postmenopausal women, but also men.
Its cause is unknown. It has been proposed that a group of our own defense cells of our body (T lymphocytes), mutated, attack the dermis and mucosa.
Simultaneity has also been found with other conditions such as vitiligo, lupus erythematosus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and more.
The lesions can occur on the genital skin, but also in other areas (although it does so rarely). If it is not treated, it can become complicated and develop phimosis and paraphimosis.
Skin lesion caused by human papillomavirus infection. A virus that has more than 100 species: organized according to the risk they represent to the health of the patient.
HPV types 6 and 11 cause hard, dome-shaped warts located in the groin and root of the penis. They can also be soft and soft when located on the inner surface of the foreskin or glans.
They can be treated with cryogenic therapy, laser ablation, or surgical resection.
They are lesions caused by the Molluscum contagiosum virus. They generate papules with a central depression.
In childhood cases, transmission is made by skin contact when bathing or swimming with another infected child, for example. In adults, transmission is through sexual contact.
In most cases, infections are self-limited. It means that they are unable to spread throughout the body in people with a functioning immune system.
Like HPV warts, they can be treated with cryotherapy: application of liquid nitrogen to the papule.
Bullae are raised, palpable, well-defined lesions. They contain serous fluid inside.
Blisters can be caused by STDs such as genital herpes, chancroid, molluscum contagiosum, and other microorganisms such as scabies.
Scabies (or scabies) is an infestation that causes pinkish-looking blisters on the penis. They generate an intense sensation of itching. The blisters caused by scabies usually occur on other parts of the body as well.
It is a type of malignant tumor, common in men between the fourth and fifth decades of their lives. It is a rare type of cancer in Western countries, but common in African countries.
Its characteristic lesion is a raised, moist, velvety papule with a reddish tinge. They are generally located on the glans penis or the prepuce . Most are single lesions, but there may be multiple.
How to treat pimples on the penis?
Certain types of pimples can resolve on their own, without the need for much treatment. Others, depending on certain factors, will require more care.
Next, we will show you certain options to treat those uncomfortable and annoying pimples.
Whether the appearance of a pimple is alarming enough to warrant prompt medical attention will depend on the type of pimple, its shape and size, the number, and the occurrence of other concomitant symptoms.
If skin lesions appear on other areas of your skin or symptoms (malaise, fever, headache or any other) we recommend going to a health professional.
The type of treatment will depend on the cause (etiology) of the disease and its course. Simple treatments may require the application of topical creams with antimicrobial properties or more aggressive treatments (laser ablation).
Pimples or papules that do not present complications such as those caused, for example, by an ingrown hair can be solved at home.
First, the area must be disinfected before any procedure. Warm compresses are then used to open the pore. Using a sterilized tweezer, carefully move the ingrown hair outward, without pulling it out by the roots.
Subsequently apply antimicrobial topical creams and avoid shaving the area or using extremely tight red.
As tempting as it may be, you shouldn’t pop a pimple. You run the risk of infection since the internal parts of the skin would be exposed. Also, it could scar.
How to prevent pimples on the penis?
A good number of pimples on the penile skin can be prevented if the necessary measures are applied, such as grooming.
Next, we will show you certain preventive measures that you can apply to avoid the discomfort of a pimple on your genitals.
Properly wash the genital area
When the genital area is not washed properly, the natural oils secreted by the sebaceous glands accumulate, along with dead cells and sweat, clogging the skin pores.
Not properly washing your glans or the edge that separates it from the rest of the penis leads to the accumulation of smegma. This increases the risk of infections.
Using new razors when shaving
Worn out razors or razors that have lost their edge pose a danger to our skin. They do not cut the hair evenly, leaving pointy ends or lacerating our skin due to friction.
Hair that has not been properly cut represents a risk because, when it grows, it can grow in the direction of the skin or the hair follicle where it is born. This generates pimples due to ingrown hairs.
Keep skin moisturized with natural oils
At the opposite extreme to an excessive accumulation of oils, we find the deficiency of these. Excessively washing the area too frequently with irritating products leads to the loss of our skin’s natural lubrication.
Moisturizers or natural products that contain natural oils lubricate our skin. Dryness leads to cracking and weakness of the skin.
Avoid wearing very tight clothing
Tight clothing presses against the penile skin and the constant movement of our body throughout our routine subjects the penis to constant friction.
Friction injures the skin and exposes the most vulnerable layers to infections by microorganisms that normally reside in the most superficial parts of the skin.
It is recommended to wear slightly looser clothing to avoid damaging the skin.
University Professional in the area of Human Resources, Postgraduate in Occupational Health and Hygiene of the Work Environment, 14 years of experience in the area of health. Interested in topics of Psychology, Occupational Health, and General Medicine.