Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What causes bumps to form on one's penis?"
Ever since I was a little boy, I've had a sort of line of little white bumps ringing the 'rim' on the head of my penis. It seems like they'e getting more pronounced as I get older, and they have sometimes been embarrassing in sexual situations. What are they?! Can I get rid of them?
This condition is most likely called "Pearly Penile Papules," which is also referred to as "hirsuties papillaris genitalis." This is a benign (not an infection or cancer) skin condition often found on the penis. They are most common in the 20s and 30s, and they often come and go for no reason at all. They are not related to sexual activity, infection, or hygiene. However, one should not pick at, pop, or remove htem as they can become infected or lead to scarring. If they are uncomfortable or painful with intercourse, these papules can be removed with a carbon dioxide laser treatment. This can be performed by a dermatologist or, less likely, a urologist. The fact that they have been there a long time, and their "rim"-like presentation on the head of your penis makes it less likely that they are sexually transmitted diseases, but you should be seen by your primary care physician to rule out diseases such as herpes or genital warts, both of which can look like small white bumps at various points in their development. You should first be seen by a primary care physician to rules these out, then be referred to a dermatologist for removal if you see fit.
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