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Penis symptoms

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Pubic Lice
Pubic Lice

  • Penis symptoms include rash, pain, discharge, itching and swelling
  • Not due to a known injury

General Information

Here are some common causes of penis symptoms:

  • Bladder infection (cystitis)
  • Contact dermatitis (e.g., latex condoms, lubricants, spermicides, perfumed soaps)
  • Irritation (small friction burns) after sexual intercourse or masturbation (inadequate lubrication)
  • Poison ivy, oak, or sumac rash
  • Priapism
  • Skin cancer
  • STD's (e.g., Herpes simplex, Syphilis, Chancroid, LGV, pubic lice, genital warts)
  • Trauma
  • Any preexisting skin disorders/rashes can also occur on the penis and scrotum (e.g., psoriasis, eczema, drug rashes)


  • Definition: Priapism is defined as an erection that lasts longer than 4 hours.
  • Symptoms: Prolonged, unwanted, usually painful erection.
  • Causes: Sickle cell anemia and certain medications.
  • Treatment: Erections lasting longer than 4 hours may require specialized treatment in an emergency department.

If not, see these topics

When to Call Your Doctor

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If
  • You feel weak or very sick
  • Large amount of blood from end of penis
  • Not circumcised, and foreskin pulled back and became stuck around head of penis
  • Fever and looks infected (e.g., draining sore, ulcer, rash is painful to touch)
  • Fever and burning (pain) with urination
  • Unable to urinate and your bladder feels very full
  • Painful erection lasting more than 1 hour
Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If
  • You think you need to be seen
  • Burning or pain with urination
  • Pus (white, yellow) or bloody discharge from end of penis
  • Blood in urine
  • Looks infected (e.g., draining sore, ulcer, rash is painful to touch)
  • Rash with painful tiny water blisters
  • Swollen foreskin (not circumcised)
Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If
  • You have other questions or concerns
  • You are worried you might have a sexually transmitted disease
  • Blood in semen
  • Painless rash (e.g., redness, tiny bumps, sore) that has been present more than 24 hours
  • Antibiotic treatment longer than 3 days for STD (e.g., penile discharge from gonorrhea, chlamydia) and painful urination is not improving
  • All other penis symptoms (exception: painless rash present less than 24 hours, mild itchiness)
Self Care at Home If
  • Painless rash (e.g., redness, tiny bumps, sore) that has been present less than 24 hours, and you don't think you need to be seen
  • Mild itchiness and no rash, and you don't think you need to be seen

  1. Causes of Mild Rash:
    • Irritation from a chemical product: perfumed soaps, latex condoms.
    • Irritation from a plant (e.g., poison ivy), chemicals (e.g., insecticides), fiberglass, detergents.
    • Early finding of sexually transmitted disease (STD).
    • Small friction burns can occur from intercourse (if inadequate lubrication).
  2. Cleansing: Wash the area once thoroughly with unscented soap and water to remove any irritants.
  3. Genital Hygiene:
    • Keep your penis and scrotal area clean. Wash once daily with un-scented soap and water.
    • Keep your penis and scrotal area dry. Wear cotton underwear.
  4. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Rash spreads or becomes worse
    • Rash lasts more than one day
    • Fever occurs
    • You become worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Author and Senior Reviewer: David A. Thompson, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 1/19/2009

Last Revised: 9/21/2007

Content Set: Adult HouseCalls Online

Portions Copyright 2000-2009 Self Care Decisions LLC; Copyright LMS, Inc.

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