A rash on penis, penile shaft, head or glans can be a sign of an STD, irritation or even allergic reaction. Itchy penile rashes can occur on different parts, including the base, on the scrotum, shaft or head. Infections and irritation can produce a white or red rash. Here are the causes and treatment of spots on penis, bumps and blisters.
“A rash is a noticeable change in the texture or color of your skin. Your skin may become scaly, bumpy, itchy, or otherwise irritated.” [HealthLine] Some rash bumps are burning and can be very itchy. Many diseases can produce skin rashes, including fungal and bacterial infections, viral and parasitic attacks.
- When caused by an underlying disease, a rash on penis will be accompanied by other symptoms.
- Male genital rash or pubic rash is generally caused by skin irritation as well as some infections.
- “Blisters on penis, sores, or ulcers, especially in the groin or genital area are usually a symptom of sexually transmitted diseases or infections (STDs/STIs).
Although some bumps and rashes can be temporary and clear on their own, penile rashes that won’t go away should be reported to the doctor. Any other signs such as discharge from the penis should also be warning signs of an infection. See a doctor immediately for checkup and treatment.
Causes of rash on penis
- Causes of rash on penis
- 1. Sore rash from herpes, STDs
- 2. Skin irritation and allergic reactions
- 3. Pearly penile papules (PPP)
- 4. Balanitis or irritation on foreskin
- 5. Candida yeast infection or jock itch
- 6. Bacterial infections and bumps on penis
- 7. Red rash on penis shaft from shaving
- 8. Friction and penile rash after intercourse
- 9. Eczema, psoriasis cause itchy rashes on penis head
- 10. Erythema rash on penile shaft
- Treatment for penile rashes and bumps
A penile rash should never be ignored. Small bumps, pimples and spots on penis can be a sign of an STD such as herpes. Such require treatment and management before they become blisters and sores.
An inflamed rash on the head of the penis can make it difficult to wear clothes or even urinate. It can also make intercourse painful or even impossible. Here are the possible causes of a rash on your penis head, shaft and scrotal base.
1. Sore rash from herpes, STDs
A blister-like rash on penis and genital area can be a sign of herpes. Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). The genital herpes virus affects the genital area, penis, (cervix in women) and sometimes other parts of the body.
- According to the American Sexual Health Association, genital herpes may start to show symptoms a few days after infection.
- Small blisters and bumps will form on the penis or genital area.
- Small red bumps or tiny white blisters usually form after a few days of infection. These blisters and rashes may appear in clusters that make them resemble a rash on the penile base, shaft or penis head.
The sore rash can start to bleed especially if you scratch the penile lesions. Note that genital herpes lesions “often resemble small pimples or blisters that eventually crust over and finally scab like a small cut.”
Other STDs that can produce rash-like bumps in the male genital area include the human papilloma virus (HPV) that causes genital warts. This can produce small flesh colored lumps or warts on the penis.
2. Skin irritation and allergic reactions
Penile irritation is one of the most common causes of a red rash on the penis. If you are allergic to some soaps, fabric irritants and even lotions, it is possible to get a rash on your penis as a result of the allergic reaction.
- Observe carefully to be able to identify the source of the irritation.
- Some clothes may be rough and can cause irritation in babies and even adults. Both circumcised and uncircumcised can get a rash on foreskin or glans from this kind of irritation.
This type of skin rash on the penile shaft and head is called contact dermatitis. According to Mayo Clinic, “Contact dermatitis is a red, itchy rash caused by a substance that comes into contact with your skin” Some of the possible causes you should check include soaps, genital jewelry, fragrances and even detergents used to wash your undergarments.
3. Pearly penile papules (PPP)
A small rash on the penis head can easily be confused for a sexually transmitted disease. Pearly penile papules are “Small dome-shaped to filiform skin-colored papules that typically are located on the sulcus or corona of the glans penis.” PPP may represent what most people describe as penile rash that won’t go away. See the picture of the papules on head of penis.
These papules or dots are harmless and do not require treatment to get rid of them. The papules appear as a rash on penis because they usually form a row of small bumps. It is estimated that about 20% of the male population has small pearly penile papules. A majority of them are not circumcised.
- PPP does not require any kind of treatment. Since they are normal and harmless, it is important not to attempt to get rid of them.
- According to Medscape, the papules sometimes disappear on their own as one ages.
- In case they cause esthetic trauma and discomfort, the small rash on the penile head due to these pearly papules can be removed using laser treatment or surgery.
4. Balanitis or irritation on foreskin
A red, itchy rash on the penis head is likely to be caused by balanitis. Balanitis refers to the inflammation of the penile head (glans). The foreskin may swell due to inflammation, and develop a red rash around it. Dryness can also lead to symptoms of balanitis.
- Redness, tenderness and swelling of the glans or penis head.
- A pink or red rash that may appear as smooth, patchy or scaly.
- Discharge from the penis, mostly in men who are uncircumcised.
General itching and discomfort accompany balanitis. Tightness of the foreskin can also make it very uncomfortable to retract the foreskin. According to DermNet, “Balanitis may be accompanied by urethritis (inflammation of the urethra) and/or other skin problems.”
Dermatitis, lichen planus and sclerosis, poor hygiene, scabies and syphilis have been listed as possible causes of balanitis. A dry penis is also a precursor to a tight foreskin and hence a rash on the penile shaft and head.
5. Candida yeast infection or jock itch
Another possible cause of a rash on penis shaft or penis head and inner thighs. Jock itch is a male yeast infection, caused by a skin fungus. The infection is also called groin rash or male yeast infection. Candida is common in male adolescents. They can however transmit jock itch to women through skin contact. Symptoms of jock itch or male candida include the following.
- Pink or red rash on the penis shaft, head and groin folds. This is usually when the infection is severe.
- Itching on the penis.
- Odor, also called jock itch odor.
Jock itch rash gets worse with exercise. Being a fungal infection, sweat and warmth provides the perfect environment for growth. You may experience a burning sensation on penis shaft, base and head. The entire groin area may also flake, peel and crack.
6. Bacterial infections and bumps on penis
Bacteria can also cause irritation in the foreskin. They can lead to a white rash on the head of the penis. Bacterial infections are very common in men who are not circumcised. They occur because the foreskin provides an ideal warm, dark and moist environment for the bacteria to grow.
- Inflammation from bacterial activity is a common cause of rashes, bumps and itching.
- The rash is aggravated when you start to scratch the skin on your penile shaft and head.
Some bacterial infections can worsen or spread when the skin breaks. It is important to avoid scratching and touching the penile and genital area to avoid introducing bacteria. In some cases, bacteria grow from a fungal infection, especially with intertrigo that affects skin folds.
Shaving your scrotum, penis and general pubic area can lead to razor bumps and razor rash. Razor burn or razor bumps refer to inflamed red bumps or rash on the skin after shaving, waxing or other methods of hair removal.
Razor burn occurs due to skin irritation, usually due to poor shaving techniques. Shaving against the hair growth pattern is likely to cause an itchy rash on penis. The bumps also end up becoming ingrown hair. If your penile shaft has an itchy red rash from shaving, make an aspirin paste to help heal it and reduce the inflammation.
8. Friction and penile rash after intercourse
Friction on the penile head and shaft can cause a bumpy rash. According to MedHelp, “This red spotty rash after intercourse can be due to dermatitis or friction rub during intercourse.” Minor trauma on the penile shaft and head can also occur after masturbation.
According to Dr. Bhupinder Kaur, MD on MedHelp, it is important to ask your girlfriend or wife to have a culture sensitivity test if she gets a thick vaginal discharge. It is possible that you are getting the rashes on penis from her infection.
9. Eczema, psoriasis cause itchy rashes on penis head
Eczema can also produce a rash on the penile skin. Eczema and psoriasis can produce severe symptoms of itching with rough patches that blister or form a painful rash. The itching and bleeding is a result of irritation or reaction to an irritant such as genital mites, allergens etc.
- Penile rash from eczema is also referred to as penile dermatitis.
- It is easy to confuse this condition with some sexually transmitted diseases as well as fungal infections.
- A flaky skin and red spots on the penis head, shaft and base, as well as dry white spots and patches on the penis may form as a result of eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis.
10. Erythema rash on penile shaft
Erythema is a skin condition that produces an allergy rash on the genital area. The rash is an allergic reaction to the virus that causes herpes simplex. Although it is a mild symptom of allergy, the rash usually flares up to cause an itchy and painful sensation.
Erythema rash goes away on its own, but should not be ignored. According to the National Health Service, a dangerous form of erythema penile shaft rash is more severe and life threatening. It can affect the genitals, eyes and the surface around the eyes.
Treatment for penile rashes and bumps
Most treatments will depend on the cause of the symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe some medications to help alleviate the bumps, spots and rashes or just the inflammation and the pain. Here are treatments used to get rid of penile shaft and head rashes.
Balanitis can be managed with varying treatments. Most treatments target to get rid of the underlying cause of the problem.
- Topical antifungal medications can be used to heal the rash on penis head if it is caused by a fungal infection.
- An antiseptic and antibiotics may be prescribed for topical application to get rid of irritants on the penile foreskin and shaft.
- If you have a painful rash on penis shaft and head, a mild topical steroid may be given to relieve the pain.
An over-the-counter anti-fungal cream can help get rid of penile rash from jock itch. There are also powders and sprays that may be used to treat jock itch or candida rash on male genitals.
Antibiotic ointment treatments
For bacterial infections, an antibiotic will help clear the problem fast. Both oral and topical antibiotics may be given to help get rid of bacterial infections on the penis. Oral cephalexin and topical polymyxin B, bacitracin or mupirocin may be prescribed.
Since many of such infections will make the foreskin have a rash, swell, become red, and feel painful and very sensitive to the touch pain relieving medications may also be prescribed alongside the antibacterial treatment.