I am a 31-year-old male, circumcised, and have had only one sexual partner in my life. Here is the problem: I have a region of reddish irritated skin along the rim at the base of the head of my penis. The irritation is a thin strip about 3 millimeters wide and it is primarily on the left and right sides of the "rim" area described above. The area is quite tender. When I pull the skin tight around the irritated area, I can see that the redness takes the shape of microscopic pink spots/veins in the skin. The skin is not broken in any area and is very smooth. The skin has been mildly irritated off and on over the last decade and the irritation usually correlates with masturbating more frequently (say, once a day). The irritation would always go away if I did not masturbate for a few weeks. However, in the last year or so, the irritation has been worse and will not go away even when I stopped masturbating for several months. I saw a urologist and he diagnosed "penile papulosis" and simply said "don't fixate on it". I looked "penile papulosis" up on the Internet and it was equated with Bowenoid papulosis which did not seem to fit my symptoms. Any suggestions on what it is/what I can do?
There are several possibilities. One would include balanitis which is inflammation of the glans penis. This typically occurs in uncircumcised males, but not always. Treatment would include antimicrobial or antifungal topical agents.
Dermatitis (i.e. skin irritaiton) of the penis is another possibility. Topical steroid creams would be used if this was the case.
Other possibilities would be STDs such as herpes or genital warts. There are over the counter herpes tests or a doctor can take herpes cultures that can be used for diagnosis. Showing the lesion to a urologist or dermatologist can alos make the diagnosis.
I would suggest a urology referral. If that goes nowhere, a dermatologist would be the next step.
Followup with your personal physician is essential.
This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.
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