Medical News Today: Should I worry about pearly penile papules?

Pearly penile papules are small pink-white growths that develop around the head of the penis. Any male can develop pearly penile papules, but they are not considered harmful.

This article will discuss what pearly penile papules are, how to identify them, and whether they can be removed or prevented.

What are pearly penile papules?

worried looking young man
Any male can develop pearly penile papules, which resemble small pimples and develop around the head of the penis.

The medical term used to describe pearly penile papules is Hirsutoid papillomas. They typically develop around the head of the penis.

Their size and color can vary across individuals. They typically appear pink-white and measure between 1 to 4 millimeters in diameter, resembling small pimples.

Pearly penile papules often cluster in rings or rows, commonly around the circumference of the base of the penis’ head. The technical name for this area is the corona of the glans penis.

Pearly penile papules are often mistaken for symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection, such as genital warts. However, genital warts are typically larger, are shaped more like cauliflowers, and can develop in areas other than the penis, such as the scrotum or anus.

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Pearly penile papules do not cause any other symptoms to develop with them.

Once a man has developed pearly penile papules, they typically remain for life. The growths can fade with age, but they do not tend to change shape, color, or spread further over time.

Given the similarity in their appearance to some other conditions, such as genital warts, any men that experience other symptoms alongside the growths should seek medical attention.

Other conditions that resemble pearly penile papules include:

For example, growths that begin to itch or cause any discomfort may indicate the presence of an underlying condition that a doctor should examine.


Doctors do not know what causes pearly penile papules. They are considered a normal occurrence, and between 8 and 43 percent of men have them.

They are not a sexually transmitted infection. Unlike sexually transmitted infections, they are not caused by infection or disease and are not contagious. They are also not considered harmful.

Although the cause of pearly penile papules is unknown, they appear to be more common in black men and those who have not been circumcised.

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cryotherapy using cotton swab and liquid nitrogen
It may be possible to have pearly penile papules removed by cryotherapy.

Pearly penile papules cannot be prevented and do not require any specific treatment.

As they present no health risk or symptoms, it is uncommon for a doctor to prescribe treatment options to reduce or remove the growths.

However, the presence of pearly penile papules may be psychologically distressing. When this is the case, it is possible for people to have them removed through one of the following methods:

  • Cryosurgery: Uses extreme temperatures to freeze and destroy targeted areas of tissue. It is often used as a method of removing harmful tumors, but it may also be used to remove more benign growths, such as pearly penile papules.
  • Laser surgery: This method uses infrared rays to cause heat damage and destroy skin cells. It is used to remove growths and smooth the skin.
  • Radiosurgery: Radiation damages skin cells. It can be targeted to areas affected by pearly penile papules, causing them to fade.

All of these methods are generally considered safe, but it is important for people considering them to fully understand the implications of each specific type of surgery. Each procedure may carry specific risks.

Over-the-counter medications, such as genital wart creams, should be avoided as they may not be appropriate and can cause skin irritation and scarring. People are not advised to attempt removing pearly penile papules at home.


young black couple cuddling on a bed
Although they may be confused with genital warts, pearly penile papules are not contagious or related to sexual activity.

Pearly penile papules are not harmful or contagious and should not be a cause for concern. They are not related to sexual activity, but it is possible to mistake them for conditions with similar-looking symptoms, such as genital warts.

Although their appearance may cause some men concern, there is nothing to worry about. Pearly penile papules are not a sign of a more serious, underlying condition and are considered a normal occurrence.

Once they have developed, the growths typically persist throughout life, but they tend to fade with age.

There are no symptoms associated with pearly penile papules, so anyone who experiences any symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

It is possible to have the growths surgically removed. However, this is not common as there are no associated health risks with pearly penile papules.

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