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Penis Bumps

What are penis bumps?

Bumps or sores on the penis are often the first noticeable sign of an STD for many men. Certain bumps on the penis are normal or non-sexual in nature. Many men are unaware of normal marks or bumps on their penis and may panic when they are discovered.

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Penis pimples that cannot be passed sexually include:

  • Ingrown hairs
  • 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

Which STDs cause penis bumps?

Some penis bumps are caused by sexually transmitted diseases. Herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2), known as HSV-2, is the most common sexual cause of bumps on or around the penis. HSV-1 and HSV-2 both cause genital herpes. Human papillomavirus (HPV) can also cause bumps or sores in the genital region. Molluscum contagiosum is a viral STI that causes a concave reddened or shiny flesh-toned spot with a sunken in appearance. It can be difficult to determine the cause of bumps on the penis, which is why getting tested for STDs is so important.

When are penis bumps a sign of herpes?

Genital herpes (caused by HSV-1 or HSV-2) can cause bumps, known as an outbreak, at any time. Genital herpes is a viral infection, meaning the virus is incurable and can lie dormant for years at a time. When an outbreak does occur, it is usually accompanied by a cluster of small, round bumps that look similar to blisters. The painful spots are typically filled with clear fluid that oozes when the sores rupture, leaving behind a crusty, reddish rash of bumps. The bumps eventually clear up within weeks.

When are penis bumps a sign of HPV?

HPV can also cause bumps, known as genital warts, on the penis and in the surrounding area (any skin covered by boxer shorts). Genital warts appear in clusters of painless, flesh-colored bumps. The entire groin area can be affected and, unlike a herpes outbreak, a genital warts outbreak is continuous.

  1. "Genital Herpes - CDC Fact Sheet." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes.htm
  2. "Genital HPV Infection - Fact Sheet." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm
  3. "Penile Appearance, Lumps and Bumps." Australian Family Physician 42, no. 5. https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2013/may/penile-appearance/
  4. "Penile Cancer." Beaumont Health. https://www.beaumont.org/conditions/penile-cancer

Medically Reviewed by on Jun 18, 2019

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