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Dermatology/Bumps on head of penis

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bumps
bumps  
Hello,

Approximately four months ago I began to notice some discoloration and small bumps on the head of my penis. I have never had anything like it before. I returned from afghanistan just over 8 months ago, and had no sexual contact there, and very limited sexual contact since I've returned. All intercourse has been with condoms, except a few instances of oral sex that were not protected.

The bumps are more prominent when erect, and appear to be slightly raised. They do not itch or hurt, and generally have no sensation or effect other than being conspicuous.

Is this an STD? What can I do about it?

Answer
You have a skin condition called Balanitis.

Balanitis is swelling (inflammation) of the foreskin and head of the penis.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Balanitis is usually caused by poor hygiene in uncircumcised men. Other possible causes include:

Diseases such as reactive arthritis and lichen sclerosis et atrophicus
Infection
Harsh soaps
Not rinsing soap off properly while bathing
Uncontrolled diabetes
Trauma
Irritation

Symptoms

Redness of foreskin or penis
Other rashes on the head of the penis
Foul-smelling discharge
Painful penis and foreskin

Signs and tests

Your health care provider may be able to diagnose your balanitis by examination alone. However, you may need skin tests for viruses, fungi, or bacteria. Sometimes, a skin biopsy is needed.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause of the balanitis. For example, balanitis that is caused by bacteria may be treated with antibiotic pills or creams. Balanitis that occurs with skin diseases may respond to steroid creams. Anti-fungal creams will be prescribed if it is due to a fungus.

In severe cases, circumcision may be the best option. If you cannot pull back (retract) the foreskin to clean it, you may need to be circumcised.

Expectations (prognosis)

Most cases of balanitis can be controlled with medicated creams and good hygiene. Surgery is not usually needed.

Complications

Long-term inflammation or infection can:


Make it difficult to move the foreskin over the head of the penis (a condition called paraphimosis)
Affect the blood supply to the tip of the penis
Calling your health care providerBalanitis is swelling (inflammation) of the foreskin and head of the penis.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Balanitis is usually caused by poor hygiene in uncircumcised men. Other possible causes include:

Diseases such as reactive arthritis and lichen sclerosis et atrophicus
Infection
Harsh soaps
Not rinsing soap off properly while bathing
Uncontrolled diabetes
Symptoms

Redness of foreskin or penis
Other rashes on the head of the penis
Foul-smelling discharge
Painful penis and foreskin
Signs and tests

Your health care provider may be able to diagnose your balanitis by examination alone. However, you may need skin tests for viruses, fungi, or bacteria. Sometimes, a skin biopsy is needed.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause of the balanitis. For example, balanitis that is caused by bacteria may be treated with antibiotic pills or creams. Balanitis that occurs with skin diseases may respond to steroid creams. Anti-fungal creams will be prescribed if it is due to a fungus.


Expectations (prognosis)

Most cases of balanitis can be controlled with medicated creams and good hygiene.

Complications
Infections if yeast or bacteria are present

Calling your health care provider

Tell your health care provider if you have any signs of balanitis, including swelling of the penis or pain.

Prevention

Good hygiene can prevent most cases of balanitis except when infection is present.  

Dermatology

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Michael S. Fisher, <B>Ph.D., M.D.</B>

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