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Penis Rash

On This Page: Causes | STDs | Testing | Diagnosis & Treatment

What Is a Penis Rash?

A penis rash can be identified when there are spots of irritated or swollen skin on the penis. The rash may also be present in the groin area or other parts of the genitals. In some cases, a penile rash can be accompanied by other symptoms, including:

  • Blisters
  • Sores
  • Scabbing
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Warmth or swelling of the area

The presence of a penile rash may cause discomfort during daily activities and can be painful and awkward during sexual relations.

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Causes of Penis Rash

There are several reasons that a rash may form on the penis. A penile rash can form due to something simple such as irritation or an allergic reaction, or due to an infection caused by a fungus or an STD.

Noninfectious Causes

  • Allergic reaction – Irritation from certain products such as soaps or detergents.
  • 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 showering.
  • 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.
  • Eczema or 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.
  • Razor burn – 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.

Infectious Causes

  • 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.

Which STDs Can Cause a Penis Rash?

Sexually transmitted diseases that may cause a penile 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.

Should You Get Tested for STDs?

The presence of a rash on the penis does not necessarily mean that the cause is an STD. However, since some STDs do not display any symptoms at all, testing can provide peace of mind. Testing for STDs is easy and confidential.

STDcheck.com offers an STD panel that tests for ten common bacterial and viral sexually transmitted diseases. This STD panel requires both a blood draw from the arm and a urine sample. To complete this test, place your order on our website and go to a local lab of your choice. Present the lab with your lab requisition form, and get a blood sample taken. The results will arrive confidentially to your STDCheck.com account in one to two business days.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Penis Rash

Depending on the cause of the penile rash, treatment may include antibiotics or antiviral medications. It is important to follow the treatment instructions given to you by your doctor. It is also recommended that you abstain from sex during the treatment period. All of your sexual partners should also be treated, even if they don’t have any symptoms. It is recommended to not have sex until everyone has been treated. If all sexual partners are not treated, the infection can be passed back and forth.

  1. “Penile Rash.” Health Grades. https://www.healthgrades.com/symptoms/penile-rash
  2. “What Is That Bump on My Penis?” Very Well Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/penis-spots-lumps-and-rashes-2328892
  3. “What Causes Groin Rash and How Is It Treated?” Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/rash-on-genitals
  4. “Why Do I Have a Rash on My Penis?” WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/rash-on-penis#1
  5. "Scabies Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/scabies/gen_info/faqs.html
  6. "Signs and Symptoms of Penile Conditions." Beaumont Health. https://www.beaumont.org/conditions/penile-conditions-diseases-signs-symptoms
  7. "Balanitis." Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School. https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/balanitis-a-to-z
  8. "Pubic Lice (Crabs)." Planned Parenthood. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/pubic-lice

Medically Reviewed by on February 15, 2020


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