Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Small red bumps on penis


Small red bumps
Small red bumps  
QUESTION: Hi, Mark, 2 days ago I noticed about 7 tiny bumps scattered from the middle of my shaft to the head, they were red with whiteish tips, like very small pimples, but they don't really hurt.  My pubic region in general has been mildly itchy the past couple days.  The bumps can't be popped or squeezed out.  I had just spent about 30 hours sitting in the same position in a car driving across the country, and their appearance coincided with an outbreak of pimples on my buttocks, so I consider it could be related to not showering/skin irritation from the long road trip, however, about a month ago the condom broke during intercourse and so I am concerned it could be warts or some other STD.  The image I am attaching is a little bit out of focus, I would say the bumps are even smaller than they appear.  They are much like the bumps on one's nipples.  Thank you for your time!

ANSWER: Hi Dylan,
The photo is rather out of focus. These bumps are probably  not an STD, but may be pimples, mild folliculitis, hair bumps, fordyce spots, molluscum contagiosum. Give yourself a week of moist heat to the affected skin, followed by some antibiotic cream or ointment. If it does not get better than it may be due to a skin virus, such as molluscum, or fordyce spots, a normal variation.

Good luck!

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Thank you for your advice.  I sought care at a county clinic and the bumps were diagnosed as molloscum.  They recommended I just make sure to wash it about twice daily and otherwise leave it alone until it heals.  Would you recommend any other treatment options that might hasten the healing process?  I was looking into different creams, essential oils, etc., but I am not sure if they are safe to use on the penile shaft.  Thanks again!

Hi Again, Dylan,
Molluscum is caused by a skin virus; disrupting the top of the lesion with a sterile needle (not recommended to do yourself!) or with a topical medical acid (available from most doctor's office) may be effective. Good luck!

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Mark P. Behar


Almost any question or concern about gay men's health issues, sexually transmitted infections, abnormal Pap smears, anal cytology (anal "Pap smears"), etc. There is no such thing as “d/d free” or “clean” (free of infection), so why do so many of us deceive ourselves into thinking that some people are indeed totally free from a potentially infectious disease, like HIV, herpes, hepatitis, syphilis, chlamydia, warts, gonorrhea, etc., just because they say so? Clinical laboratory tests are not perfect, and having a “negative” or “nonreactive” test does not mean that a person is free from infection. Perhaps at the moment the test was taken, the person was uninfected; or, perhaps, the test wasn’t sensitive enough to detect presence of the infection. There is really no way that anyone can determine that they are truly “disease free,” and there are over a hundred of infectious conditions that can be spread without your knowing anything. Rather than trying to “pre-screen” or “serosort” a potential sex-mate with deceptive questions that are impossible to know by today’s technologies, a wiser option may be to consider everyone infected with something, and either use appropriate protective measures (“safer sex”), or accept the responsibility and consequences of possibly “catching” something from someone who’s hotter than expected (pun intended!). There is much research that supports the contention that an HIV positive person reliably taking HIV medications, and having an undetectable viral load, presents a lower risk for transmission of HIV than people who may think or say they are HIV negative, but are not. Food for thought!


Family Practice PA since 1981; Volunteer Clinician for Brady East STD (BESTD) Clinic, Milwaukee, since 1977; answered STD questions submitted to their web site. Professionally lectured at national and regional Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner conferences, and at national gay & lesbian health conferences on topics including HIV/AIDS, herpes, hepatitis, STDs, human papilloma virus (the cause of venereal warts), abnormal Pap smears, gay and lesbian health issues, among others.

Co-Founder, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Gay Physician Assistant Caucus of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, Inc.; American Academy of Physician Assistants; Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants; National Co-Chair (2012-16), National Association of Black and White Men Together: A Gay, Multiracial Organization for All People (NABWMT)

Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAPA) Q Visions, Quarterly Newsletter of the NABWMT

Bachelor's of Arts, 1972 (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI) Graduate Credits Experimental Psychology, 1972-75 (Tulane University, New Orleans, LA) Physician Assistant, Bachelor's of Science, 1981 (George Washington University, Washington, DC); Masters in Physician Assistant Studies, 2000 (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE)

Awards and Honors
Colposcopy Recognition Award (CRA), the American Association of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology; Distinguished Fellow, Clinical Preceptor, American Academy of Physician Assistants; Fellow, Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants

Past/Present Clients
Brady East STD Clinic, Milwaukee, WI Milwaukee Health Services, Inc. (Martin Luther King Heritage Health Center), Dept. of Family Medicine and Early Intervention Program for HIV Infected Persons

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