Fordyce Spots & Other Penile Concerns

Very few things give guys more concern as they grow out of puberty into adolescence than their penises. While size is and will likely always be the single most discussed issue, there are several other conditions that generate some concern and discussion.

These conditions are often believed to be related to some sexually transmitted disease by those who are not familiar with them. In the vast majority of cases, however, they are perfectly normal and harmless.

Fordyce Spots

Fordyce spots, named after dermatologist John A. Fordyce, are small, slightly elevated yellowish or white bumps that can appear on the head or the shaft of the penis. Though they are primarily noticed by guys on their penises, they do appear in the labia of females as well, and may even appear on the inner lips of either sex. These spots are variants of sebaceous glands, or sweat glands, without the usual hair protruding from them. They tend to appear more noticeably on the penis and in the labia because they are under very thin skin and are very close to the surface

These glands are perfectly normal, are not related to any disease (including sexually transmitted diseases), and are completely harmless. There is no treatment or “cure” for these outside of nitrogen or laser treatments that are only moderately effective if at all.

The most significant problem with these is the psychological impediment some people may have to them. This includes the owner of the penis (i.e., he may feel embarrassed or not be aware of their harmless nature), and potential sex partners. It is important to note that, since these glands are under the skin, they present no problem with emitting any contaminants (perspiration or otherwise), view more on The Sexual Response Cycle.

Tyson’s Glands

Tyson’s Glands (named after Edward Tyson, a 17th century anatomist who discovered them) are glands which are located on the glans (head) of the penis under the foreskin, are largely inactive in childhood. At puberty, Tyson's Glands begin producing an oily substance, which, when mixed with shed skin cells, constitute adult smegma.

Adult smegma serves a protective, lubricating function for the glans, but can become odiferous if it is not cleaned off periodically. Smegma is believed to serve as a lubricant for the movement of the foreskin across the head of the penis (when the foreskin is present). There is also a theory that these may have served as an odor-producing gland when man was living in caves (to mark territory, much as some animal still do today). These glands can become infected when a person is infected with an STD. smegma

Pearly Penile Papules

Medically known as Hirsuties papillaris genitalis, these are small, flesh-colored, smooth, dome-tipped bumps situated circumferentially around the ridge (corona) of the penis. Usually appearing in groupings or in rows, it is not uncommon for them to extend onto the head of the penis as well.

Though the specific nature of the bumps is unknown, they are not related to any known sexually transmitted diseases, malignancies, or any other identified medical condition. They appear is approximately half of all males, regardless of their standards of personal hygiene. Circumcised males appear to have them less often than intact males do. They become more pronounced during puberty and may persist throughout life. Similar to the Fordyce Spots, these may present some psychological impediment to either the owner of the penis or a sex partner.

Lymphoceles and other bumps

Hard swellings that suddenly appear on the shaft of the penis near the foreskin after sexual intercourse are usually lymphoceles. These are caused by temporary blockage in lymphatic channels in the penis and will go away on their own without after-effects. They are not harmful and are not indicators of any disease or anomalous condition.

Small bumps, cysts and pimples on the outside of penis and scrotum are also quite common and generally harmless. Any persistent or painful cyst, especially with a discharge should be checked by a doctor to rule out the possibility of a sexually transmitted disease.

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