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

There are many different types of lumps and bumps that might appear on your penis.

Sometimes, a sebaceous gland (these are small glands in the skin that secrete oil to protect it) can get blocked and cause a small cyst or pimple on your penis, which will go away on its own after a couple of days. If a cyst or pimple on your penis becomes painful or swollen you should see your doctor about it.

Ulcers or open sores on your penis, that leak clear fluid or pus, may be caused by sexually transmitted infections or cancer. Any ulcer or open sore on your penis should be examined by a doctor as soon as possible.

Just like for any other part of your body, if you notice anything unusual about the appearance of your penis, or if you experience any pain, you should make an appointment to see your doctor.

For more information about different types of penis lumps, visit:

Learn more about foreskin problems.

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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?

Pearly penis papules are painless, dome-shaped bumps that usually occur in one or more rows along the corona (the rounded border where the head of the penis meets the shaft). They can be flesh-coloured or white, and can look like small pimples or skin tags.

Pearly penile papules are a normal part of male anatomy. Even so, some men with pearly penile papules are bothered by them and would prefer to have them removed.

 

What are genital warts?

Genital warts usually appear as a group of small, raised bumps on the scrotum, or on the shaft or tip of the penis. However, you may also get a single wart. Warts may also appear in or around the anus. Genital warts range in colour and size and may be rounded or flat, smooth or rough.

Genital warts are caused by human papillomavirus and are easily spread through skin-to-skin contact, so it’s important to use condoms if you or your partner are infected.

Genital warts can be frozen, ‘burned’ or cut off by your doctor. There are some medications that can be applied directly to warts that may help them go away.

There is a vaccine available to prevent infection by the 9 types of human papillomavirus most associated with disease in humans, and in Australia, it’s free as part of the National Immunisation Program. The vaccination doesn’t treat an existing infection, so it must be given before you’re exposed to the virus to be effective.

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.
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Resources

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Penis problems fact sheet

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Penis lumps

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