Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Pimple on penis?


QUESTION: I've had 3 partners last year and got tested after 2. It's been about 4 months since interactions with my last partner and a week or so ago I noticed a pimple on the left side of my penis. I was wondering if this is normal or something to get checked out. I have no pains or anything.  
Thanks for all the help!

ANSWER: Hello Joey,
The bumps may be one of several things: fordyce spots, HPV/warts, or a skin condition not associated with STDs. You may try the acetic acid (vinegar) test:  apply to the skin for 30-60 seconds and then re-examine.  If the whitish bumps look really, really white after the vinegar, then the white areas are probably due to HPV/warts. If the skin doesn't look much whiter than before, than it probably is due to a normal variation. It may require further checking out by a knowledgeable health care provider.

Good luck!

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QUESTION: Okay thank you mark! I'll get on it asap. Im just worried about the top right bump on the first pic. Ive had all those bumps since i was a child so Im sure it must be fordyce spots. Is it still possible to get HPV/Warts even 4months after any sexual interactions? and is the hpv/warts dangerous or is it just a pyshical appearance?

Thank you so much for your help!

ANSWER: Hi Again, Joey,
The top right bump in the first photo is not well centered. No, you can't "get" HPV after an encounter, but HPV is a microscopic virus that can't be seen. It takes time after infection for the virus to cause the cellular changes that progress from something invisible to what we eventually see as a clinical wart. It may take several months for this progression to take place-- from initial infection to an obvious wart.

Because HPV infrequently causes cellular changes that sometimes can cause dyplastic or precancerous changes, it is not "just a physical [or cosmetic]  appearance."

Good luck!

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QUESTION: Hey mark, I got checked out earlier last year about this and the doctor said everything was fine. I've had the same mark all year. Today when I woke up I noticed it turned red and looks like a pimple. Any suggestions as to if this is something to worry about? I have not been with anyone since June of last year.

Hi Again, Joey,
The white spots do indeed look like Fordyce spots.  However the red bump does look like a pimple. Apply moist heat followed by a bit of antibiotic cream or ointment, and it should get better.  If it gets big and more tender or painful, than it may need to be surgically drained.  

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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