Penis Bumps: Causes, STDs, Herpes, HPV and Treatments

Bumps on the penis may range from small pimples to large swellings. Little or small white bumps on the penis are normal and as such, there is no cause for concern. They occur when you have never had sex at all or for a much longer while. Such bumps are so common on the shaft of the penis.

Some other bumps that are normal may occur on the penis shaft and glans which are harmless too.

Should you be worried about penile bumps?

Do you have a small bump on the penis shaft or glans? Do you become curious when they are numerous and more so when they hurt?

For many people, if the bumps go away without interfering with your sexual activity and other activities they do not express doubts or become curious about them. In some cases, the bumps on your penis may be considered benign when they do not show abnormalities even if the bumps do not

While many cases of the penile bumps are symptoms of problems ranging from STDs, secondary infections to skin conditions including reactions, you should be worried if the bumps continue to grow or get enlarged with time.

What causes bumps on the penis

They may be caused by or be a sign or symptoms of some of the following.

Pearly penile papules

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Pearly penile papules (PPP) are small, benign (non-cancerous) growths. PPP can be pink, white, yellow, or (rarely) translucent in color. They’re normally very small, ranging from 1-2mm wide by 1-4mm long.

More about pearly penis papules (PPP)

The shape, color, and size can vary among individuals, but all the papules that one person has will look the same. The papules are usually found in a single or double row on or around the head of the penis. The pearly bumps Web Site describes them as protuberances that may form on the ridge of the glans (bulbous part of the penis head) of your penis.

To an extension, they are therefore part of the penis shaft anatomical variation but may have a different skin/tissue structure.

It is advisable not to try pop, squeeze, cut, scratch and the white normal bumps as they may result in an infection.

Fortunately, PPP as bumps do not pose a health risk for penis cancer.

If you’re concerned about bumps on your penis, see a doctor or go to a clinic for advice on what to do. Pearly penis papules are non-contagious and are said to be common among uncircumcised individuals.

Common parts affected or found

Areas likely to be affected by bumps on the penis are:

  • Around the penis head (glans)
  • Beneath the glans

Sometimes they may be located on the shaft of the penis.

Could the bumps be a sign of STDs

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Many males with penis bumps do not understand why the small pimples, sores, and swellings appear on their penises.

Genital herpes

Some of them are caused by sexually transmitted diseases. The most common STD that produces bumps on the penis or skin in the genital area is herpes type 2.

Herpes outbreaks are characterized by a cluster of small, round blister-like spots or bumps that occur in the genital region. These bumps are usually painful. The spots or bumps appear to be filled with a clear fluid, and typically rupture and oozes out in a few days’ time when the bump is popped.

After rupturing, the spots appear reddish and can have a crusty appearance. They will continue to resolve over the course of several days to weeks until they are gone.

Genital herpes is incurable. However, painful symptoms can be controlled or gotten rid of with medications including antiviral medicines.

NOTE: If you are sexually active in most cases, genital herpes can recur.

HPV (Human Papillomavirus)

HPV is the same virus that causes genital warts.

The HPV infection can produce or is symptomatic small bumps on penis head, shaft or its surrounding. Typically, warts are found in small clusters, are the same in color as the surrounding skin, and grow in patches.

They are typically not painful. Unlike herpes bumps that come and go, genital warts are persistent.

Molluscum contagiosum

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Another cause is the Molluscum contagiosum. It is a viral infection that not only affects the penis but can be found anywhere on the body after the virus enters.

Although considered not to be a serious infection, if you are suspecting you have these bumps on your penis see your primary physician.

How does Molluscum contagiosum bumps look like? (See the photo below).

They are usually identified with the dome-shaped or caves on their surfaces. The bumps could appear pink or brown.

Molluscum contagiosum is not an STD. however, if you have contact with an infected person you will get it. Therefore, avoid anybody’s contact with a person suspected of these bumps including sexual intercourse.


Scabies is quite a common problem and is characterized by an intensely itchy lesion on the finger webs, abdomen, and genitals. An individual with scabies will often have very itchy pimples like bumps or nodules on their penis head, shaft or scrotum.

Other causes

For people who are not sexually active or haven’t had sex (especially multi-sexual partners), penile bumps could be caused by the following:

  • Fordyce granules (small slightly raised bumps on the penis shaft)
  • Ingrown Hairs on the base of the shaft
  • Infected hair follicles
  • Blocked oil glands
  • Irritation from cosmetic products (shaving cream/body wash)
  • Friction from rubbing against clothing
  • Allergic reaction to soap or lubricant (rash)

Diagnosis and Treatment

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For PPP, Healthcare providers prefer to leave them alone, because the papules don’t impose any risk on your health. Do NOT try to pick at them or pop them, and do NOT use an over the counter “wart remover” – these medicines are not meant for use on your penis. However, the following surgical procedures can be used by individuals who feel so much threatened by Pearly penis Papules:

Surgical procedures

Surgery should always be done after consultation and be carried out by a board-certified doctor or professionals.

These procedures include:

  • Carbon dioxide laser surgery: Precise carbon dioxide lasers produce infrared energy that can dissolve the papules. This procedure is generally safe and effective.
  • Excisional surgery: A surgeon uses traditional tools, such as a scalpel, to remove each papule individually. This approach is more likely than the others to cause scarring
  • Radiosurgery: Targeted radiation creates free radicals, which are molecules that can damage healthy cells. The free radicals attack the cells of the papules, causing them to fade away. While accurate, radiosurgery isn’t any more accurate or effective than carbon dioxide laser surgery.
  • Cryosurgery: This procedure uses extreme cold (frozen Nitrogen) to freeze the papules so they will disappear.

Use neutral cosmetic products

If you highly suspect that the bumps are due to a skin reaction or response, the best thing is to totally abandon these products and eliminate them from your skincare regime.

Individuals whose bodies react with cosmetic products like shaving creams should think of an alternative and skin-friendly products. In addition, use products which are less oily. Less oily or non-oily products will prevent blockage of oil glands.

Avoid washing the penis area with irritants and soaps with which the body is allergic.

Medications and drug therapy

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Treatment with antiviral drugs can help people who are bothered by genital herpes outbreaks stay symptom-free longer. These drugs can also reduce the severity and duration of symptoms when they do flare up.

Drug therapy is not a cure, but it can make living with the condition easier. There are three major drugs commonly used to treat genital herpes symptoms.

  • Valacyclovir (Zovirax)
  • Famciclovir (Famvir)
  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex)

These are all taken in pills.

Initial treatment is administered when you have symptoms such as sores when you’re first diagnosed with genital herpes, your doctor will usually give you a brief course (seven to 10 days) of antiviral therapy to relieve them or prevent them from getting worse. Your doctor may keep you on the drugs longer if the sores don’t heal in that time.

After the first treatment, work with your doctor to come up with the best way to take antiviral therapies.

Taking daily suppressive therapy may also reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to a sex partner. Antiviral drugs reduce viral shedding when the virus makes new copies of itself on the skin’s surface.

Diagnosis of STI related penis bumps

Before a treatment or any therapy is done on individuals with penile bumps, the doctor or physiotherapist may conduct a test for Herpes, HPV or syphilis.

When you should see a doctor

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If you have the following problems, (signs or symptoms) or such difficulties see your primary care provider promptly.

  • A hard lump on the penis
  • Difficulties pulling back the foreskin of your penis
  • Soreness
  • Persistent penile lesions or sores that come and go
  • Pain during erection
  • Problems with maintaining an erection