Pearly penile papules treatment: What are the available options?

Last updated: 2022-09-17

Pearly penile papules are clusters of growth around the head of the penis. These tiny bumps may come in different colors and typically match the patient's skin tone but could come in white or pinkish hues.

Doctors have yet to pinpoint the actual causes of this abnormal skin growth, but it has been reported in males of all ages, primarily the younger population. Unfortunately, pearly penile papules rarely change in color and size but may shrink over time. The good thing is that they're more considered a skin rather than a medical condition, meaning they don't cause health issues and other significant symptoms.

Thus, anyone with these papules must learn to accept that these aren't going away unless they seek and undergo a successful penile papules removal treatment. Below are the most common treatments available for this condition. But first, be reminded of what you should avoid doing if you don't want it to worsen.

Pearly Penile Papules diagnosis

Things to avoid if you have pearly penile papules (PPP)

Before proceeding with the details on pearly penile papules home treatment and other options, affected individuals must refrain from performing self-medication. PPP may appear similar to genital warts and sexually transmissible infections (STI).

For instance, applying genital removing cream and other topical products may trigger allergic or skin reactions from your sensitive genital skin. Additionally, bumps are different from warts, the latter are bigger and contagious. Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and can be itchy, inflamed, or bleeding. Genital warts are considered STI, while pearly penile papules aren't. Individuals also shouldn't try to pop the bumps or cut them as this may lead to severe infections or scarring.

4 Penile papules removal treatment options

The first step is to consult a urologist—a urinary system specialist—to ensure that what you have are pearly penile papules and not something else. After receiving validation from your doctor, you can discuss all the options, including penile papules home treatment.

  1. Carbon dioxide (CO2) laser therapy

    Carbon dioxide laser therapy is often used as a skin resurfacing tool in dermatological clinics. Moreover, these devices can also remove penile papules without surgery, which makes this treatment option helpful in eliminating the risks of infections and scarring.

    To start the procedure, a practitioner or clinic staff will apply a topical product to numb the nerves in the genital area, ensuring a painless process. Then, the CO2 laser will be pointed directly at the bumps so that it won't cause problems with the penile region. After the procedure, a soft scab may form, but this can be removed in two weeks or less. The process typically lasts 30 minutes, and only one session is needed to remove them.

  2. Cryotherapy

    This method uses frigid temperatures to freeze and eliminate abnormal tissues. While often used in removing tumors, this method can also be used as a penile papules removal treatment.

    The removal process involves spraying liquid nitrogen on the affected area to freeze the bumps and leaving it for a few seconds to thaw. After spraying, ice develops in the cells, eventually shrinks, and stops the circulation in the bumps, leading to their destruction. Ultimately, these growths will fall off. The said process is also called cryoablation.

  3. Electrodessication and curettage

    Electrodessication refers to using electrical needles to deliver mild electrical current to the pearly penile papules. This causes heat to destroy the bumps. Put simply, it works opposite to cryoablation and has no known side effects.

    Curettage is the surgical removal of skin and tissue growths by scraping instead of cutting. In some cases, it's done before electrodessication to ensure every last piece is removed. However, electrodessication may also be done exclusively to avoid potential issues from scraping the pearly penile papules.

  4. PPP kits

    Most men prefer not to carry the stigma of other people knowing they have pearly penile papules. Because there's little knowledge about its causes and why they develop, PPP is often associated with STIs. For men who have them, a pearly penile papules home treatment provides a cheaper and equally reliable solution.

    A PPP kit uses a low powered electrical Ionizer that vaporizes the papules, similar to how it is done during electrodessication. The kit includes everything needed to do it yourself at home, such a numbing cream. It comes with easy-to-follow step by step instructions and a video of the procedure.

Pearly penile papules treatment cost

The price range for different penile papule removal methods varies, with laser therapy being the most expensive and the PPP kits being the cheapest in the lot. As a benchmark, preparing USD$99 for one PPP kit, and at least USD$1,000 for the laser treatment, including prior and post-therapy consultations, is a safe figure.

The bottom line

Having small bumps around the sensitive area can induce anxiety in most men, which could negatively impact a man's confidence even if they're not a significant cause of medical concern. Penile papules removal treatment can be done at home or in a clinic. Whatever option you choose, it's essential to consider safety and the costs involved, as removal is regarded as a cosmetic procedure and not covered by insurance.


References

  1. Honigman, A., Dubin, D., Chu, J., Lin, M. 05 November 2019. Management of Pearly Penile Papules: A Review of the Literature. www.journals.sagepub.com. www.journals.sagepub.com/. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1203475419887730. Accessed 05 August 2022
  2. Maranda, E. et al. 15 June 2016. Laser therapy for the treatment of pearly penile papules. https://skyn.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Laser-therapy-for-the-treatment-of-pearly-penile-papules.pdf. Accessed 05 August 2022
  3. WebMd Editorial Contributors. 27 April 2021. What You Need to Know About Penile Papules. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/what-you-need-to-know-about-penile-papules. Accessed 05 August 2022