Pearly Penile Papules

Pearly penile papules are small, dome-shaped bumps that typically appear at the base of the head of the penis. While they may cause concern for those affected, pearly penile papules are harmless and do not indicate any underlying health issues.

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Key Points

What are pearly penile papules?

Pearly penile papules (PPP) are small growths that develop around the glans penis (the head of the penis). They are usually flesh-coloured and have a pearly or translucent appearance.

Who gets pearly penile papules?

Pearly penile papules are common and can affect males of any age, although they are more commonly seen in younger individuals, usually between the ages of 20 and 30. They are not acquired through sexual activity or poor hygiene and are not contagious.

Clinical features

Pearly penile papules appear as small, flesh-coloured or translucent smooth bumps around the edge of the glans penis. They are typically painless and may be mistaken for other conditions such as genital warts or molluscum contagiosum.

Diagnosis and differential diagnosis

Diagnosing pearly penile papules usually involves a visual examination by a doctor. Pearly penile papules can resemble other conditions such as genital warts, molluscum contagiosum, or Fordyce spots. However, unlike some of these conditions, pearly penile papules are not caused by a viral infection and do not pose any risk of transmission.

Impact and complications

While pearly penile papules themselves are harmless and do not cause any symptoms, they can cause anxiety or distress for those affected by them. Some individuals may worry that they are a sign of a sexually transmitted infection, leading to psychological and emotional concerns.

Cause of pearly penile papules

The exact cause of pearly penile papules is not fully understood, but they are believed to be a normal variant of penile anatomy. Pearly penile papules are thought to result from the natural development of skin tissue and are not associated with sexual activity or personal hygiene.

Treatment options for Pearly Penile Papules

Pearly penile papules typically do not require treatment, as they are benign and harmless. However, if desired for cosmetic reasons or if the bumps cause significant distress, treatment options may include fine wire diathermy, with topical or local anaesthetic applied to reduce discomfort.

Multiple treatments are usually required. The outcome depends on individual response to treatment and may result in reduced appearance or number of lesions, with possible complete clearance.

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