What should you do about a pimple on the penis?

By Aaron Kandola 

Reviewed by Daniel Murrell, MD
Pimples can develop on the penis, although they are more common elsewhere on the body. Pimples are usually harmless, and it may not be a cause for concern if one develops on the penis.

Pimples, however, can sometimes resemble the symptoms of other conditions, such as a sexually transmitted disease or STD, and so it is important to know if a growth on or around the penis needs medical attention.

This article will discuss other signs to look out for that could indicate an STD, methods for treating a pimple on the penis, and when to see a doctor.

What is a pimple?

Pimples develop when the oil glands on the surface of the skin are blocked by oil, dead skin cells, or other debris.

This blockage can trigger an immune response, causing the area to become inflamed and swollen.

The resulting small lump is known as a pimple, and pimples can occur anywhere on the body.

Signs of an STD
Pimples appear as small, round bumps on the skin’s surface. The base is usually red or flesh colored.

The tip of a pimple can either be white (whiteheads), black (blackheads) or the same color as the base, depending on the type of debris that has caused the build up. Some pimples also contain pus.

Factors that increase the likelihood of a pimple include:
  • tight-fitting clothes
  • humidity
  • excessive sweating
  • shaving
  • poor hygiene
  • oily skin

Being aware of these factors can help to determine the likelihood of it being a straightforward pimple that has developed or something else.

Pimples can occur regardless of sexual activity, which also helps to narrow down the cause of a bump.

It is possible that an STD is causing them if someone is sexually active and other symptoms also occur.

There are three STDs, which we give details of here, with symptoms that could be mistaken for pimples.

Genital warts

A primary symptom of genital warts is the growth of small, flesh-white colored bumps on the shaft, or head of the penis.

The tips of warts can be shaped like cauliflowers and can vary greatly in size. It is also possible for genital warts to appear on areas surrounding the penis, such as the scrotum or inner thigh.

Genital warts often disappear on their own, but can be easily treated with creams or freeze and heat therapy.
Genital herpes

Genital herpes causes gray-white blisters with a red base to develop on the penis or surrounding areas. They are often uncomfortable, itchy, and can spread to the anus.

The blisters can become open sores and ooze fluids and will crust over. Blisters can also appear around the mouth or lips.

Genital herpes is usually treated using antiviral drugs.


White or red painless ulcers on or around the penis can develop as a symptom of syphilis.

A bacterial infection causes the condition and can pose a serious health risk if left untreated.

Syphilis is typically treated using antibiotics.


Medical treatment is rarely required for pimples. Pimples will disappear on their own after a few days, in most cases.

It is important to avoid itching or popping the pimples. This can worsen the condition and may cause permanent scarring and superimposed infection.

Addressing the likely causes of pimples is the best method of preventing them from developing again.

Methods to reduce the risk of pimples include:
  • avoiding humid environments
  • minimizing activities that induce sweating
  • wearing loose-fitting clothing and avoiding clothing that rubs and causes friction
  • showering regularly
  • avoiding rubbing or touching the affected region
  • changing bedding and clothing regularly

Medications available to purchase over the counter or online, such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or exfoliants, can be helpful for reducing the appearance of pimples.

The region around the penis is highly sensitive, so these medications must be used cautiously.

When to see a doctor

A doctor should be seen if pimples occur with other symptoms that may include:
  • fever
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • swelling in other areas, such as glands in the groin
  • skin rashes or irritation
  • sores developing in other areas, including the face
  • muscle aches


If action has been taken to reduce the risk of a pimple developing, or they do not disappear after one week, it may be worth consulting a doctor.

If there is any uncertainty over whether a growth is a pimple or not, it is important to seek medical advice, to ensure they are not a symptom of a more serious condition.

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.