Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Follow up on red area under my penis


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QUESTION: After you reviewed my photos and suggested it was contact dermatitis, I saw a PCP. He said it was probably just irritated. He did initially mention the possibility of herpes which of course made me a bit paranoid.

I am not sure how closely he really inspected me so I just wanted to get your opinion on one last thing. I might just be hyper aware of every little thing now. I noticed some really small bumps on the head of my penis. Do they look natural?

Thank you!

ANSWER: Hello Jack,
Those tiny bumps are absolutely normal and natural variations in the skin, and are not related to anything to worry about.  They are NOT evidence of herpes.

Good luck!

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QUESTION: That is great to hear. I thought so but wanted to be sure. I still have redness. How long do you think it should or could last?

ANSWER: Hi Again, Jack,
Redness should not last for more than a week or so.  Give your skin time to heal.  

Good luck!

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QUESTION: It's been red for about 3 weeks now. It seems to be spreading a little around the circumference of the tip. It doesn't itch or hurt really although it feels slightly tender from time to time. :(

Hi Again, Jack,
The redness is no cause for alarm. Redness by itself may reflect mild skin irritation, or increased vascularity,  dilated blood capillaries, or thinning of the surrounding skin so that the redness is more obvious because additional layers of skin are thinner or have flaked off, no longer covering up the underlying normal redness.

Nothing I would worry about! Usually, this goes away by itself in a few weeks, but sometimes, not.

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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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