Pearly Penile Papules Vs HPV: How Do They Compare?

Last updated: 2024-02-07

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a common occurrence in many people across the world. According to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 2.5 million reported cases syphilis, gonorrhoea, and chlamydia in 2021. These conditions are often manifested by genital blisters and growth, so many people think they’re suffering from an STI when they discover something unpleasant around the genital area. However, these symptoms may not always be due to STIs, as in the case of pearly penile papules (PPP).

Pearly penile papules and genital wart are two conditions with minimal similarities in terms of causes, nature, and appearance. This article will help shed light on the differences between the two.

Male examining underwear

What are PPP?

PPP are small, flesh-colored lumps that form around the penis head. They are pimple-like growths on the skin or under the foreskin that don’t produce pus. PPP grow in lines, are not infectious, or caused by poor hygiene. These lumps, which can also be yellow, pink, or white with a pearly sheen, generally don’t cause pain or itchiness.

Pearly papules are present in 14% to 48% of males. The condition does not show symptoms apart from tiny white or skin-colored bumps around the tip of the penis, which usually first appear during adolescence and young adulthood. There is no known cause for this condition, and medical experts believe it is a normal anatomic condition. It’s diagnosed through physical examination and skin biopsy tests.

PPP is not a major cause of concern as the lumps are not premalignant or malignant. This condition is not contagious and thus cannot be transmitted from one person to another through sexual contact. A doctor can remove the lumps, but removal is unnecessary unless the appearance bothers you.

What is HPV?

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common group of viruses that cause genital warts, which are small flesh-colored growths on the upper thighs, penis, vaginal opening, labia minora, scrotum, anus, urethra, mouth, or tongue.

HPV underwear

Genital warts appear as a cluster of small raised masses whose surface can either be smooth or rough with a pearly cauliflower shape. Some grow separately, forming many finger-like projections, and others may be flat with just a slight elevation on the skin surface. They can hide under hair, and others might have a slightly dark surface. Genital warts are typically painless but can become inflamed and itchy, start bleeding, and change regular urine flow.

HPV is often the cause of genital warts, which spread through sexual contact and are infectious. Diagnosis of the condition is through an HPV test, pap test, skin biopsy, or physical examination. There is no treatment for HPV since it is typically cleared by the body within a couple of years, unless it causes other problems like genital warts or cellular changes in the cervix.


Here are some of the main similarities and differences of PPP and HPV:

  • Both HPV and PPP generally don't cause pain.
  • PPP is not a symptom or cause of any serious medical condition, but HPV can cause cervical, oropharyngeal, or other types of cancer.
  • None of them is caused by poor hygiene.
  • PPP only occurs in men, while HPV can occur in both men and women.
  • One can address both of these conditions through medication or surgical treatment.
  • PPPs are shiny, tiny, and relatively even in size. Typically, they’re skin-colored or white, resembling whiteheads. On the other hand, genital warts caused by HPV are also flesh-colored but often appear in clusters and are irregular in shape. They can either be soft or hard and rough in texture.
  • PPP only grows in tight lines around the penis head or shaft. Genital warts may grow on the scrotum, penis, anus, vagina opening, inner thighs, labia minora, urethra, or the anus.
  • There is no known cause for PPP, but it definitely isn’t an STI. Genital warts are caused by HPV types 6 and 11. They’re considered STIs because one can develop them after unprotected sex with an infected person.
  • PPP may be removed through surgical excision, cryotherapy, or laser therapy. Genital warts may be removed through prescription creams, cryotherapy, or laser surgery.


The comparison of HPV vs PPP is pretty straightforward. To determine which condition you have, it’s best to have them checked by a qualified medical practitioner.

If you want to attempt to remove PPP safely at home, you can use a PPP kit specifically designed for that. Contact us if you have any questions, or visit our website for more information.

Learn more about the PPP KIT

Author: Patrick K.

I earned a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Polytechnique Montreal in 2015. One of my notable achievements during my studies was receiving acclaim for the 'Simplicity of the proposed solution' in a university project. I've always been a 'Do-It-Yourself' type of person, and solving my own pearly penile papules issue was no different. After months of dedicated experimentation with various home remedies for PPP, I developed a safe and effective solution that tackles the problem. The solution has been bundled into the "PPP KIT" and I am happy to share this life changing remedy since 2020!

Reviewed by: Fabiola Garcia

I studied Nursing at the CDI College in Montreal before furthering my education at École Esthétique Avancée, recognized as Quebec's premier private institution for medical aesthetics. I actively contributed to enhancing the safety protocols of the pearly penile papule (PPP) removal procedure by collaborating on the refinement of the 'Aftercare' section within the PPP Kit's step-by-step guide.