Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Bumps on penis glans/corona


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Hi Mark,

I have a series of bumps on the superior side of my penis glans.  It has begun to extend into the corona (ridge).

I am 25 years old.  I acquired HPV and have some hard-to-see warts on the underside of my testicles and penis.  They have not changed much the past few years.

I slept with a "questionable woman" over 1 year ago (March, 2012).  I first noticed these bumps in December.  I have had a broken foot (among other injuries) for an extended period of time, and at one point did not shower for maybe 4 weeks.  

I was reading that penis cancer is associated with HPV diagnosis (which I have, but I was reading the prior HPV I had--5 years ago--would have "cleared" in most people by now; but who knows what that "other girl" had) and having bad hygiene--which I had for a period of time (recovering from the car injuries).

Do you think I should see a physician or dermatologist?  I have not been sexually active the past year or so and have been rehabbing the injuries.  

I have not treated the bumps but upon reading your other answers, I have pre-cursorily diagnosed it as "balanitis" and started to shower daily, dry the area and apply anti-fungal (tinactin) spray. I have only done it for 2 days, so it is too early to discern any difference.

Could this be penile cancer?  I am very worried about this.  When it first spawned I assumed it was related to HPV and so thought the problem was cosmetic but after reading some penile cancer stories I'll admit I'm quite freaked out although I try not to think about it.

The bumps appear to have gotten more significant/spread slightly.  It is not painful in any manner although I seem to have slightly less sensitivity in the affected area.  After showering (with soap) the area appears to get slightly dry/flaky.

I also read that penile cancer tends to start on the penis glans/head in 95% cases and that is where my symptoms are.

I have other pictures from other angles, and am eager to answer any follow-up questions from my e-mail at

Thanks so much for your time and any response,

Hello John,
First, let me reassure you that penile cancers are very rare, especially in the US, and they don't happen in young men when they do occur. Skin cancers of any kind take a long time to develop, and unless a person is middle aged or older, it just doesn't happen. Testicular cancer is a disease of young guys in their teens and twenties, not penile cancer.

The bumps shown on the glans are variations in the architecture of the skin, and do not appear to be HPV/warts or anything else that is sexually transmitted. It appears to be a benign skin condition called "lichen nitidus," which are small flat tile-like plaques that may come and go, become confluent (like cookies baking together on a cooking sheet), itchy, or without symptoms all together. They may come and go without medical treatment. A direct examination by a knowledgeable health care provider is the best way to reassure yourself, as most photos aren't close enough to simulate such direct evaluation by a skilled eye!

It is not balanitis, which is inflammation and infection of the foreskin and glans usually caused by skin fungi; balanitis usually presents with redness, itching, swelling, and may be "wet" or "dry."  You may wish to search for "balanitis," "lichen nitidus," "penile cancer" for better images.

Nothing to worry about, in my opinion.

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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