What is a penis rash?
There are multiple conditions that can cause a rash on the penis or in the groin. Rashes are commonly itchy and can
be caused by something as simple as an irritation to certain soaps or something as complex as an infection caused by
fungus, an STD or pubic lice.
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Jock Itch - Jock itch is a fungal infection that results from staying in sweat-soaked
clothing too long. It occurs most often in athletes, but can affect anyone. Those who wear tight clothing that
doesn’t allow for moisture to dry are at risk, as well as obese individuals who are prone to sweating can get
jock itch in skinfolds. Symptoms include redness, itching, peeling/flaking skin, rash, altered skin color, and
a burning sensation. Activity typically worsens the condition. Symptoms can affect the groin, thighs, and lower
abdomen, but usually the testicles are unaffected.
Yeast Infection - An overgrowth of fungus, also known as candidiasis, that causes a red
rash on the penis and itching and/or burning on the tip of the penis; it is more common in uncircumcised men.
Balanitis - Swelling of the tip/head or foreskin of the penis. Like male yeast infections,
balanitis is more common in uncircumcised men. It is a painful condition that is usually caused by poor hygiene.
Bacterial overgrowth in the area results in an infection. Irritation that can cause balanitis include scented or
perfumed soaps, lotions or sprays, bar soap that dries out the skin and/or not fully rinsing soap off while
Contact Dermatitis - A condition that causes itchy, red, irritated skin that occurs after
using a new detergent, soap, or skincare product. It can resemble a burn, and is sometimes caused by latex
gloves or condoms, jewelry, chemicals in cosmetics, and poison oak or ivy.
Razor burn or razor bumps - Small, irritated red bumps that pop up due
to trapped bacteria or ingrown hairs. Razor bumps can occur on or near the genitals after shaving.
Psoriasis - Bright red, shiny patches on the penis and/or genitals. It typically is not
scaly or flaking when it occurs in the genital region due to the area being well-covered, so it retains more
moisture than other parts of the body.
Which STDs can cause a penis rash?
Scabies are mites that can be passed from close contact with an infected individual, including sexual contact.
The mite bites leave red itchy spots that resemble a rash on many parts of the body, including the groin and
genitals. Pubic lice, also known as crabs, can leave red dotted spots that look like a rash. It is caused by
the lice bites, and sometimes the lice themselves can be seen in the groin.
The secondary stage of syphilis includes a non-itchy rash that can occur on the palms of
the hands and soles of the feet. It can also cause gray to white rash-like patches in the groin, inner thighs, and
armpits. Like the chancre of the primary stage of syphilis, the second stage’s rash will go away on it’s own, but
the bacteria is still in the body and will progress to the more serious (and potentially deadly) later stages.
Just because a rash is present does not mean that you have an STD, but since some STDs do not display any
symptoms at all, it is important to get tested to know your status.