Overview: The most common causes of bumps on the penis are either benign skin issues or sexually transmitted diseases. In most cases, you should discuss the situation with your doctor, but lumps and bumps don’t usually have an urgent impact on your health.
So, you’ve found a lump or bump on your penis. Though there are many non-worrisome things that it could be, let’s get your most urgent concern out of the way first.
Is It Cancer?
Cancer of the penis is extremely rare; in fact, out of over 1.8 million cases of cancer diagnosed every year, only approximately 2,200 are cancers of the penis, 0.0012% of all cancers. That said, if you can’t find another explanation on this list, and the bump lasts for more than four weeks, discuss it with a health professional.
The Common and Benign
By far, the largest group of benign causes are skin conditions you’ve seen elsewhere on your body. After all, the skin on your penis is no different from the skin anywhere else. Moles, cysts, ingrown hairs, and pimples are all as common there as they are anywhere else on your skin. In addition to these, there are two others to be aware of:
- Penile papules: These bumps are normally found on the head of the penis, usually wrapped around the head in a single or double row. They’re small and flesh-colored and fairly common.
- Fordyce spots: Found on the lips, mouth, and genitals, these are sebaceous glands that are normally associated with hair follicles, but in this case, they lack the follicles.
The Mildly Concerning
Sometimes, bumps are caused by a condition that isn’t dangerous, but these are worth bringing up with your doctor.
- Angiokeratomas: These red bumps appear anywhere blood vessels close to the surface of the skin, like those in the scrotum, become enlarged. They may be a symptom of another condition, such as hypertension, so you should contact your doctor and discuss them, but the bumps themselves are not a point of concern.
- Lymphoceles: Whenever a lymph channel is blocked temporarily, you’ll find a hard swelling. While these require no special treatment and generally go away on their own, keep an eye on them, especially if they keep happening.
- Peyronie’s disease: Often the butt of jokes, Peyronie’s disease is where scar tissue collects on the penis over time. Left untreated, it can lead to painful erections and other problems. Peyronie’s tends to manifest early as bumps, bends in the penis, and other unusual conditions. Catching it early can solve problems later, so speak to your doctor if you suspect Peyronie’s.
The Sexually Transmitted
Finally, there’s a whole host of STIs that can cause bumps. However, they also have other symptoms, so get tested instead of assuming.
- Scabies: Also sometimes called crabs, scabies are mites that burrow into the skin and lay eggs, which can cause painful itching, especially at night. Scabies can be sexually transmitted but isn’t exclusively so.
- Herpes: Herpes manifests as either red bumps or white blisters and includes itching, pain, and scabs.
- Genital warts: Caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV, genital warts are usually painless lumps around the penis or anus. The main issue is that they can resemble other types of bumps. Because they don’t cause pain, people often don’t realize there’s a problem until it’s too late. If you’ve had sex with multiple partners and new bumps appear, get tested; better safe than sorry. Remember also that HPV can lie dormant before presenting symptoms, so a questionable sexual contact does not need to be recent.
- Syphilis: Usually presents as a hard sore, without much pain, on the penis. Left untreated, syphilis can have long-term dangers. If you suspect it, get treated immediately.
The best way to protect your sexual function is to work with your doctor or talk to one of our U.S.-licensed physicians at 1-800-467-5146 for a prescription. For the latest information on medications for erectile dysfunction, sexual health, and more, follow the eDrugstore blog.
Dan is a long-time freelance writer focusing on technology, science, health, and medicine, with a lifelong interest in physics, biology, and medicine. His work has taken a particular focus on scientific studies “beyond the headlines,” reading the study to more closely examine the results.