Embarrassing Skin Conditions Part 2: Genital Conditions in Men

Dr Helena Torpinski|Genital lesions
20 March 2019

In part 2 of our Embarrassing Skin Conditions series, we’re talking about what no man wants to talk about – genital skin conditions in men.

Genital Skin Conditions in Men

While men and women do experience many of the same genital skin condition, men do experience some all of their very own.

When symptoms first appear, they can be scary and worrying. That’s normal. The key take away today is Seek Help Fast. In almost all cases, the sooner you seek treatment, the better. And in many cases, treatment is quite simple, quick and painless. Meaning – there’s no need to stay away.

So, if you’re experiencing something that seems a bit odd, a little weird or downright worrying around your man parts, this article may help you understand what you’re seeing and what can be done about it.

1. Pearly Penile Papules (PPPs)

When we see men for in the clinic for PPS they’re usually quite worried, and we can understand why. Pearly Penile Papules, or PPPs, are small, skin coloured lesions on the end part of the penis (the Corona), and they can look serious.

While worrying is normal, the small and smooth, dome shaped bumps or threads are not an infection, so they have not been contracted from contact with an infected person and therefore cannot be passed on to others.

PPPs are completely normal and represent no sexual or health risk. However, because they can be visually unappealing, men try all kinds of nasty lotions and potions, home remedies and internet advice to remove them.

Please do not do this! These are not likely to do any good and can actually do a lot of harm.

We have a gentle and effective laser that will flatten these out nicely, for a cosmetic improvement, in about 20 minutes. The process is routine for us, here at our clinic. We conduct it using a topical anaesthetic gel, so it is usually painless, and while you may not want much activity for the following four or five days, you’ll be back to normal in no time.

Read more about treating PPPs at our clinic here.

2. Balanitis

Also affecting the penis glans, this condition is an inflammation of the head of the penis. It’s cousin, balanoposthitis, is the same condition but affecting the foreskin. Balanitis is almost always found in uncircumcised men.

This condition carries symptoms such as redness, swelling, discharge, pain or inability to urinate and, not surprisingly, tenderness to the touch.

It can also result in impotence and other difficulties like difficulty retracting the foreskin from the penis head, and returning it.

There is no definitive cause, though possibilities include products being used on the penis, hygiene and care issues, as well as other health conditions such as diabetes.

Infections such as HPV, Candida and other STDs can also contribute.

Treatment is fairly straightforward, depending on what is determined as the cause. Treatment usually involves prescription creams and/or antibiotics. On rare occasions, circumcision may be recommended.

3. Scabies

Showing up as a pimple-like outbreak, constant itch or an aggravated rash, scabies is actually an infestation of small bugs known as Sarcoptes scabiei.

These mites burrow their way under the top layers of skin, lay eggs and cause a whole lot of trouble for the host human. It can take a month or more after contracting scabies before symptoms appear.

Scabies like the genital area, but may show up anywhere on the body, particularly between fingers and toes, under arms, around the face and neck.

To contract scabies, you need prolonged contact with an infected person’s skin – time enough for the mites to crawl onto your skin. This means handshakes are not a likely problem, but family members and sexual partners are definitely at risk.

Thankfully, treatments are effective in just three days. Prescription creams used on the entire body are usually given, along with a medication to reduce itching.

4. Molluscum Contagiosum

This hard-to-pronounce condition is a viral infect that produces small, pearl coloured bumps on the skin. It’s a pox virus, meaning it’s from the same virus family as chicken pox, which means direct contact is required to spread the infection.

Sexual contact is the most common way this condition is spread (condoms will not prevent viral infections), which is why it’s bumps are most commonly found in the genital region, inner thighs and lower abdomen. However, it can be common in children, much like chicken pox, and is more likely to appear on their faces and trunks.

If you have a compromised immune system, you’re also more likely to contract this virus. The virus can last in the body for years, but most cases will resolve in 6-9 months.

Because molluscum contagiosum naturally resolves, there is often no treatment given. However, treatment to remove stubborn bumps and improve the appearance of skin is possible.

Need more info on any of these embarrassing skin conditions?

If you’ve identified your symptoms in this list of conditions, you need to see a doctor. Your GP is a good place to start, but you can come directly to see our dermatologist, Dr Terence Poon, if you’d prefer. To book an appointment call our receptionists  today on (02) 9953 9522.


Written by Dr Helena Torpinski. Dr Helena works as a GP as well as having been one of our skin laser specialist for over 15 years. She loves to help our patients feel great in the skin they’re in.