Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Red/pink bumps on penis head




I have an issue that developed a couple of months ago that caused the head of my penis to break out into tiny red bumps. I was trying to do some research online but every forum I have read seem to point to something different (balanitis, herpes, etc.). I would like to visit a doctor but only after doing my research as I am worried about being misdiagnosed. I have had this condition for about 3 months now. It started out localized to one area but seems to be spreading. The rash is not too noticeable after intercourse but becomes very prominent after masturbation or after receiving oral sex. For the past several years I have had intercourse with my wife. I did however receive oral sex from a different partner about six months ago. I have not had an std screening since and am worried about passing anything on if this is contagious. At this moment however it does not appear to be since I have had sex with my wife many times since and she does not appear to be showing signs of anything.

I would like to find out what this thing might be, what I can expect to be diagnosed with and how I can get rid of it. Additionally I would like to know what kind of doctor I should go see for something like this, not to mention how to curb the embarrassment of the whole situation. At this point there really is no pain or discomfort down there, it just looks terrible. I tried to use some yeast infection cream which seemed to help but I can't really say for certain since I mostly abstained from sex during that time as well. It doesn't look like any pictures of herpes, syphilis, etc. from the web. I thought balanitis was a possible candidate but the condition did not go away when I used yeast cream and I am pretty good at keeping myself clean down there. I am however uncircumcised so maybe.

Thank you for your help and expert opinion.

Hello Alex,
Nothing to be embarrassed about.  No specific physician to see, since there is nothing technically wrong. Perhaps it requires only a readjustment of your own attitude about what is normal and what is not.

Your photos demonstrated reddish spots or tiny bumps on the glans (head), of an uncircumcised but otherwise normal appearing penis. Understand that the top layer of cells on the underside of the foreskin which includes the glans, is UNKERATINIZED, which makes it easier to wear away when exposed to friction during sex, or from oral sex where saliva with it's mild digestive enzymes, tends to remove this protective layer.  This leaves red spots which otherwise would be UNSEEN if the unkeratinzed epithelium remained intact.

As you have no infection, medical creams may only cause mild irritation, but not restore things to a "normal" appearance.  When you do have sex, use a mild, silicone based lubricant, rather than a water soluble one or hand lotion, just to help prevent the excessive friction from removing the unkeratinized epithelium.

Nothing to worry about!

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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