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How to Treat & Prevent Whiteheads on Penis

Your manhood can get pimples, too! Get the scoop on those pesky whiteheads on your penis—or your partner’s in this article!

Just like any other body part, your penis could also get acne. Though you may find lumps and bumps on the penis to be unusual or alarming, the good news is that they are pretty common and mostly benign

Whiteheads on the penis are usually harmless in guys who aren’t sexually active. However, knowing if those lumps on the penis need medical attention is essential. Sometimes, white spots could be a sign of other conditions, like a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

What are Whiteheads on the Penis?

Whiteheads are the most common form of acne. You can see them in regions of skin with a high concentration of pores, such as the face, neck, and back. But that’s not all since they can also develop on the base or shaft of the penis.

These spots typically form when a pore becomes clogged with sebum, dead skin, and other debris. Bacteria can cause inflammation and tiny, fleshy-white, circular lumps when they enter the pore. 

Whiteheads may appear on the penis, but they could also spontaneously go away without causing too much trouble.

What Could Whiteheads on Penis Be Other Than Acne?

Whiteheads aren’t the only issue that can cause bumps on the penis. They may indicate an underlying health problem that requires treatment in some situations.

Other possible causes include:

Fordyce Spots

Fordyce spots may look like bumps or pimples on the penis. These spots are tiny, white bumps that can appear anywhere on the body. Though common on the lips and inside the cheeks, these white bumps can also occur on the penis, especially around the head or shaft.

When spotted on the frenulum, where the underside of the penis connects with the foreskin, they are called Tyson’s glands. Some people may mistakenly assume that their presence indicates a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but these are safe and normal structures. No treatment is required.

Pearly Penile Papules

Pearly penile papules are small, fleshy bumps in rows around the head of the penis. It is unknown what causes them, but they do not cause any other symptoms and pose no health risk. Like Fordyce Spots, pearly penile papules are also called Tyson glands when found on the frenulum.

This condition affects between 8% and 43% of males. The bumps typically emerge after adolescence and are more frequent in uncircumcised men. They can, however, appear on any guy.

Ingrown Hairs

Ingrown hairs can appear anywhere as long as there is hair growth, even in the pubes. They arise when hair grows back into its follicle, resulting in uncomfortable, unsightly lumps. 

They may be unpleasant or uncomfortable, but they are not life-threatening.

Skin Tags

Skin tags are small, soft growths of irregular shape on the skin. They are more common in middle-aged males but don’t usually cause harmful effects.

Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a contagious illness characterized by clusters of tiny, hard lumps on the skin.

They can form on or around the penis and might sometimes cause irritation. This condition usually resolves on its own, although creams or gels may be required in certain situations.

But sometimes, it may require treatment in the form of curettage. This refers to a procedure in which the lumps are removed with a curette.

Lichen Planus

These rashes can appear anywhere on the body, including the penis. Although they’re itchy and painful, it usually does not lead to complications.

Genital Warts

One of the most frequent forms of STIs is genital warts. At some time in their life, nearly all sexually active persons will get infected with human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes genital warts. Despite this, there may be no visible lesions on the skin.

Syphilis

Syphilis is another type of STI that spreads when people come into contact with the bacteria Treponema pallidum. It does not lead to the development of bumps on the penis. Instead, it often presents as a painless sore.

This bacterial infection needs treatment, often a single injection or a brief course of antibiotics. Without treatment, syphilis can be dangerous to one’s health.

Herpes

Genital herpes is an STI that spreads when people come into contact with the herpes simplex virus.

It can cause gray-white lesions on or around the penis. Likewise, the sores can be itchy and even painful. Worst of all, it can spread to the skin on other parts of the body.

Diagnosing the Condition

Pimples can appear on any part of the skin as long as there are pores. As a result, they can appear anywhere on one’s body, including the penis.

Clogged pores on the penis can occur whether or not you are sexually active. However, being sexually active puts you at risk of having STDs. They may manifest as bumps that appear similar to pimples but may lead to complications if left untreated.

If the lumps on or around your penis do not spontaneously go away, seek professional help. Doctors will investigate the cause of pimple-like bumps on your penis. The faster the cause is identified, the sooner your worries will be relieved.

Treatment Options For Acne on Penis

Whiteheads on the penis seldom create other symptoms or constitute a health concern. Thus medical treatment is rarely required.

You can treat and prevent whiteheads on the penis by doing the following:

  • Practice better hygiene
  • Wash the area regularly to stop bacteria buildup
  • Don’t pop the pimples down there
  • Avoid touching the area to stop whiteheads from spreading
  • Use medications prescribed by your healthcare provider
  • Follow instructions carefully
  • Start a healthy diet and lifestyle to lessen acne triggers

You Can Never Go Wrong with a Good Diet

Many factors, like diet, have a proven association with pimples. Combining a healthy diet with additional acne-fighting medications is a solid strategy for achieving clearer skin. 

This highly informative eBook can help you get rid of acne through good food and lifestyle.

Can You Use Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicylic Acid?

Some acne remedies include benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Because the skin on the penis is extremely sensitive, discomfort in this area should prompt discontinuation of the use of these products immediately.

Are There Natural Remedies for Whiteheads on Penis?

Tea tree oil and witch hazel are two home treatments that may help minimize the spread of whiteheads.

Tea tree oil contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities that can aid in the reduction of whiteheads. On the other hand, witch hazel is a natural plant extract that may function as a cleanser, cleaning up pores and reducing whiteheads.

Some home treatments, such as apple cider vinegar and lemon juice, are excessively acidic for delicate skin. Avoid using them on areas of the body such as the penis.

Confused because of so many options to choose from? Talk to a professional. Your doctor can offer methods to prevent outbreaks and treatments to minimize acne scars.

Conclusion

Getting whiteheads on your penis is possible, but they are not necessarily a cause for concern. Like any other type of acne, whiteheads may develop due to excessive sebum production, dead skin cells, and clogged pores.

You may worry about those white spots, but they are rarely dangerous. Whiteheads are not contagious and they cannot be sexually transmitted. Just do not pop, prick, or touch them a lot because like facial acne, they may become infected.

Other conditions which may look like whiteheads can be passed on to a sexual partner, so you should see a doctor if you observe any changes in the look of your genitalia.

Safer sex, if safe sex is not possible, will be the key to keeping your banana strong and healthy!

FAQs

Q: Are Fordyce Spots STDs?

A: Fordyce spots are not symptoms of an STI or STD. These spots are commonly seen around the genitalia, but they are not contagious.

Q: Can you get pimples on your penis?

A: Yes, you can. Pimples can develop on any part of the body with pores.

Q: How do I get rid of whiteheads on my foreskin?

A: Whiteheads, like any other type of pimples, can be treated and prevented by using OTC acne medications, diet and lifestyle changes, and professional medical help.

Q: How do you tell if a pimple down there is from a sexually-transmitted disease?

A: Getting professional and medical help is still the best way to identify the cause of your bumps down there.

Q: Why does the white stuff under the foreskin smell?

A: The penis has a natural lubricant called smegma. If smegma accumulates in the foreskin, it may begin to smell bad.

Q: Should I worry about Fordyce spots?

A: These spots are normal and noncancerous (benign), but if they become itchy or irritated, seek medical attention.

Sources:

“[Fordyce’s Spots: Disease, Heterotopia or Adenoma? Histological and Ultrastructural Study] – PubMed.” PubMed, 1 June 1981, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6943138.

“Acne: Overview.” Acne: Overview, www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/really-acne/overview. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

“Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection and Vaccination: A Cross-sectional Study of College Students’ Knowledge, Awareness, and Attitudes in Villanova, PA.” Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection and Vaccination: A Cross-sectional Study of College Students’ Knowledge, Awareness, and Attitudes in Villanova, PA – ScienceDirect, 17 Jan. 2022, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2590136222000018.

“Pearly Penile Papules | DermNet.” Pearly Penile Papules | DermNet, dermnetnz.org/topics/pearly-penile-papules. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

“Pearly Penile Papules Regress in Older Patients and With Circumcision – PubMed.” PubMed, 1 Nov. 2009, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19833692.

@ClevelandClinic. “Whiteheads: What They Are, Causes, Treatment and Prevention.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22039-whiteheads. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Arnold, David L., and Karthik Krishnamurthy. “Lichen Planus – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.” Lichen Planus – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf, 21 Aug. 2022, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526126.

Cooper, Beth. “Is It Ever Safe to Pop Whiteheads and Pimples? – GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 4 Nov. 2022, goodglow.co/safe-to-pop-whiteheads.

Decker, Ashley, and Emmy M. Graber. “Over-the-counter Acne Treatments: A Review.” PubMed Central (PMC), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3366450. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Hyman, Arthur B., and Martin H. Brownstein. “Tyson’s ‘Glands.’” Tyson’s “Glands”: Ectopic Sebaceous Glands and Papillomatosis Penis | JAMA Dermatology | JAMA Network, 1 Jan. 1969, jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/fullarticle/530842.

Kawashima, Makoto, et al. “Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Benzoyl Peroxide for Acne Vulgaris: Comparison Between Japanese and Western Patients.” PubMed Central (PMC), 9 Aug. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5697687.

Lee, Young Bok, et al. “Potential Role of the Microbiome in Acne: A Comprehensive Review.” PubMed Central (PMC), 7 July 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6678709.

Love, Lauren W., et al. “Pearly Penile Papule – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.” Pearly Penile Papule – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf, 26 Sept. 2022, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK442028.

Meza-Romero, Rodrigo, et al. “Molluscum Contagiosum: An Update and Review of New Perspectives in Etiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment.” PubMed Central (PMC), 30 May 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6553952.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Sexually Transmitted Diseases | NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.” Nih.gov, 2015, www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/sexually-transmitted-diseases.

Pandey, Amarendra, and Sidharth Sonthalia. “Skin Tags – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.” Skin Tags – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf, 1 Aug. 2022, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547724.

Pappas, Apostolos. “The Relationship of Diet and Acne: A Review.” PubMed Central (PMC), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2836431. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Radolf, Justin D. “Treponema – Medical Microbiology – NCBI Bookshelf.” Treponema – Medical Microbiology – NCBI Bookshelf, 1 Jan. 1996, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK7716.

‌Ramli, Roshaslinie, et al. “Acne Analysis, Grading and Computational Assessment Methods: An Overview.” Skin Research and Technology, vol. 18, no. 1, 24 May 2011, pp. 1–14, 10.1111/j.1600-0846.2011.00542.x.

Wilson, Ashley. “Does Masturbation Trigger Acne Breakouts? – GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 1 Oct. 2022, goodglow.co/does-masturbating-cause-acne.

Wood, Sam. “3 Ways to Use Tea Tree Oil to Treat Acne Breakouts – GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 13 Oct. 2022, goodglow.co/tea-tree-oil-treat-acne-breakouts.

Wood, Sam. “Best Diet to Prevent and Treat Teen Acne – GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 9 Nov. 2022, goodglow.co/best-diet-to-treat-teen-acne.

Wood, Sam. “Best Razors for Acne-Prone Skin – GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 24 Sept. 2022, goodglow.co/best-razors-acne-prone-skin.

Wood, Sam. “Whiteheads Vs. Blackheads | Best Treatments | GoodGlow.” GoodGlow, 1 Oct. 2022, goodglow.co/whiteheads-vs-blackheads.Yanofsky, Valerie R., et al. “Genital Warts: A Comprehensive Review.” PubMed Central (PMC), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3390234. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

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I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their acne naturally. If you cannot easily find an answer to your question on the website, please reach out to me by email ([email protected]) or send me a message on Instagram or Twitter. I will reply within 24 hours.

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood

Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook!

I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health.

I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on.

This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it.

As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”.

After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts.

In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy.

Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself.

After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅

While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently.

To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision.

Read more of Sam's articles.

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