This Is How To Tell If You Have Pearly Penile Papules
Last updated: 2022-10-06
Pearly penile papules are more common than you think. According to various sources, up to 48% of the male population develops these growths at some point, typically during adolescence and early adulthood.
While studies have been conducted to learn more about them, scientists have yet to understand what they are and how they develop. Nevertheless, pearly penile papules cause stress and anxiety in those who have them.
If you've noticed abnormal growths on your penis, visit a urologist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment options. In the meantime, here's how to tell if you have pearly penile papules (PPP) or something else. First, begin by learning more about the condition.
What are pearly penile papules?
Penile pearly papules are benign growths accumulating on the base of a man's glans penis or penile head, also called the corona. Medically, a benign tumor or growth means something that's not cancerous. That said, PPP isn't a serious condition, even if the tiny bumps look worrying.
Doctors often don't recommend surgery or any serious therapy after a PPP diagnosis. However, patients may discuss with their physician for potential treatment. Urologists often refer the patient to a dermatologist for removal procedures like laser therapy and cryosurgery. In addition, home treatments are available at a fraction of cosmetic treatment costs.
What causes pearly penile papules?
As mentioned earlier, researchers have yet to understand penile pearly papules fully. Some scientists suggest that these bumps are potentially evolutionary leftover of the penile spines from your ancestors, while others believe disruptions in fetal development may cause these bumps.
Studies have shown that PPP isn't a cause for major concern and can't be passed on from person to person. Additionally, pearly penile papules are more common in young uncircumcised males and those with African ancestry. However, other males who don't possess such risk factors can still get them.
What do penile papules look like?
Pearly penile papules are small elongated lumps measuring from one to four millimeters. These tiny bumps may also appear like pimples but don't produce pus. They are white or skin-colored bumps around the base of their penile head. Most look like pearls, hence the name.
Medically known as hirsutoid papillomas, PPPs are smooth and often neatly arranged in one or two rows. Besides forming along the base of the glans penis, they don't develop on the other sections of a man's private parts. The bumps also don't change in size, number, or appearance, although they may shrink with age.
Even with their size, PPP bumps become visible because they're often arranged in rows. And because studies have yet to uncover the existence of such growths, most men might mistake PPP with a sexually transmitted infection or disease (STI/ STD). Unlike these serious conditions, a PPP patient doesn't experience worrying symptoms like pain and discomfort, fever, or heavy, discolored, and foul-smelling secretions.
How is PPP different from other penile growths?
Pearly penile papules are harmless skin growths. However, they're often confused with other health conditions that cause abnormal bumps on a man's penis. These include:
Like pearly penile papules, genital warts are bumps that come in flesh-colored, pinkish, or grayish-white hues. However, these growths can manifest as one or several lumps in different areas of the penis. Some genital warts develop on the groin, scrotum, foreskin, and even along the anal region. They can look flat, unnoticeable, or slightly elevated from the skin and have irregular shapes.
Besides bumps, people with genital warts may observe changes in urine flow and genital itching and bleeding. Genital warts often signal a sexually transmitted infection caused by the human papillomavirus or HPV. Although contagious, HPV often goes away on its own without serious health implications. Sometimes, it can develop into something more serious, such as cancer.
Recent findings by the American Cancer Society indicate that penile cancer causes 470 fatalities in the United States. In addition, 2,070 new cases were diagnosed as of 2022. While the numbers are low in European and North American regions, this potentially deadly disease reportedly has higher cases in the rest of the world, including in South America, Asia, and Africa.
People with penile cancer may observe rashes or unhealed scabs on their penis. Most males also observe penile skin changes, most notably a change in the color and thickness of the foreskin, shaft, and penis glans or tip. Penile growth also appears bluish-brown, with lumps, bleeding sores, swelling, and a foul-smelling discharge.
PPP may also be confused with genital herpes, another sexually transmitted infection. This condition causes blister-like growths on a person's genitals and surrounding areas. Genital herpes bumps come in different shapes and forms in various sections of the penis, scrotum, and anal region, sometimes reaching the inner thighs.
Infected people often feel a burning or painful sensation in sections where the sores are about to develop. Upon formation, these growths will look like white or discolored bumps on the skin. From being watery, these growths will turn into sores that secrete blood or white-colored fluid.
Abnormal growths on the skin, especially on the genitals, require a doctor's visit. These professionals are the only people qualified to diagnose and propose any treatment. Even if you think you may have pearly penile papules, meeting with a medical specialist can give you peace of mind, ensuring that you don't have any sexually transmitted diseases or infections mentioned above.