What are Pearly Penile Papules and how can I treat it?

What is PPP and what are some treatments?

Pearly penile papules (PPP) are small protrusions on the head of the penis, rimming the corona or “crown.” They are usually pearly or flesh-colored, dome-shaped, and smooth, ranging from one to three millimeters in diameter. These are not to be confused with HPV warts, which are contagious and spread via multiple forms of sex. Pearly penile papules, in contrast, tend to be uniform in shape and size and are arranged in neat circular rows. It is important to recognize the distinction between these two by visiting a dermatologist at a doctor’s office and getting tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) to ensure your skin condition is, in fact, pearly penile papules and not genital warts or another STI.

Pearly penile papules are very common; they are present in about 25% of adult males, and are harmless in nature. These bumps do not pose a risk to your health or the health of your sexual partner(s). They play no role in sexual performance and pose no health risk. For this reason, treatment is only advised if the bumps are a cause of psychological stress. If you decide to seek treatment, you should be sure to get a proper diagnosis from a doctor. Treatment is typically surgical removal of each papule via carbon dioxide laser surgery, radiosurgery, freezing, excisional surgery, or electro-desiccation. Other home remedies have also been used, although they are variable in effectiveness and should be carefully researched prior to use, as home attempts may be unsafe and can possibly worsen the appearance of the penis. These include applying gels or pastes such as toothpaste, castor oil, lemon juice, or eucalyptus oil to the papules for weeks at a time until the bumps seem to shrink in size.

Psychological distress from PPP is often experienced by men through feelings of low self-esteem or self-consciousness. While surgical removal may provide relief from such distress for some people, the high cost of surgery limits its access. Ads claiming to remove PPP in a short amount of time may be scams and should be avoided. The best advice for those experiencing psychological distress from PPP is to love your body. While it is understandable to feel some anxiety over a physical “abnormality,” especially when it affects such a delicate region of the body, acceptance and respect for oneself is inarguably the healthiest (and most cost-effective) mode of treatment.