What does it mean if I have a lump on my penis?

There are several different types of penis lumps. Many types are harmless. Some common lumps include cysts on the penis, ulcers on the penis, genital warts, and penis papules. Very rarely, a penis lump will be cancer.

Learn more about foreskin problems.

Penis_Diagram
What is a penis cyst?

Sometimes, the glands that produce oil on the penis and scrotum (called sebaceous glands) can become blocked, turning into cysts (a tissue sac that can contain clear liquid or pus).

Usually, cysts don’t need any treatment. However, if they continue to get larger, they can become painful and infected. If a cyst has become painful or swollen, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.

What is a penis ulcer?

Ulcers appear as open sores in the skin, often with clear liquid or pus in the centre.

A single ulcer on the penis can be serious, as it can be caused by syphilis, tropical diseases, or penis cancer. Single ulcers should be checked by a doctor immediately.

Multiple ulcers are more common. Though they’re less serious, they should still be checked by a doctor. The herpes virus is the most common cause of multiple penis ulcers.

What is a papule?

Papules are small, raised lumps on the skin of the penis. Most papules don’t have a serious cause.

Pearly penis papules are common, and appear as one or more rows of small, smooth lumps around the back of the head of the penis. They are often mistaken for genital warts. Because they’re not infectious, you don’t usually need to get rid of penis papules.

Causes of other types of papules on the penis include psoriasis (a skin condition), and sexually transmitted infections such as genital warts. Genital warts need medical treatment.

What are genital warts?

Genital warts are caused by HPV (human papillomavirus). Genital warts often appear in clusters, and can be very small. They’re spread through skin-to-skin contact, so it’s important to use condoms if you or your partner are infected.

Genital warts can be treated by a topical antiviral ointment. If that doesn’t work, the warts can be frozen off.

Although these treatments get rid of the genital warts, they don’t get rid of the HPV virus, so warts might come back on the skin or in the eye of the penis. You might need an inspection of the inside of your penis to fully treat the warts.

There’s a free National HPV Vaccination Program in Australia that provides a vaccine for HPV to all males and females aged 12 or 13 years.

Your doctor’s appointment

Things to think about before your appointment

  • When did you notice any lumps on your penis?

  • When did you last have a check for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

Email these questions to yourself to take into your doctor's appointment.

Resources

Penis Problems Fact Sheet Tile Image

Fact sheet

Penis problems fact sheet

Video

Penis lumps