(1) Dear Alice,

I have some small bumps near the base end of my penis and on my scrotum. The bumps do not look like herpes or genital warts. They look almost like goosebumps, but they are always there. I am still a virgin so I don't see how I could have an STD.

I would be thankful for any help or advice you can offer.

Dear Alice,

After examining my penis in the shower, I realized that I have small bumps (all the same size) on the bottom of my penis shaft. I am only 14 and am going thru puberty, so I want to know if the pubic hair grows onto the penis, or just stays on the bottom (mine are only on the bottom). I have never had sex so I know it cannot be an STD.

Dear Alice,

I am a 20-year-old male with a question. Since I can remember, I've had many bumps (small lumps under the skin) covering the underside shaft of my penis, as well as my scrotum. They are very similar to the bumps I've noticed on girls' nipples. When I went to the "Doc," I was told they were normal and fine. My question to you is: Exactly how "normal" are these bumps and how common? Do all males have them?

Dear Readers,

Paying careful attention to your penis is a great habit to form, especially now, before you have had much (if any) exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you know what is normal for your penis, you'll be more likely to notice potentially problematic developments. Fortunately what the three of you describe seem to fall into the 'non-problematic' camp. Medical providers stress that unusual bumps (in repose or otherwise) are usually caused by trauma (injury), are normal, or are growths, in that order.

It is most likely that the bumps all three of you are describing are sebaceous glands of hair follicles on the scrotum and lower penile shaft. They are normal and harmless. You'll most likely see hair growing from them (if not now, then soon!). And yes, hair can grow on the shaft of the penis, though most often just near the base.

Keep in mind, too, that penile skin is not much like other skin. It is often bumpy, lumpy, and uneven, especially on the shaft. A deflated penis can look especially bumpy, but will look less so when filled and expanded. If bumps are numerous, tiny, and don't change over time, they probably represent your normal penile skin landscape.

However, bumps or lumps that are few in number, that seem to have a timely association with sexual activity, or that grow in size may represent genital warts (condyloma), usually caused by a strain of human papillomavirus (HPV). These warts need medical attention, biopsy, or removal. One nifty thing a medical provider, or you, may do is to apply some diluted, mild vinegar solution to the warty tissue of your penis to "bring out" or accentuate the warts.

The most common cause to changes in genital skin is injury. Let's face it, a penis can take a beating, and it is neither surprising nor unusual for bruises, nicks, bites, abrasions, or bumps to appear after close or vigorous contacts of all kinds. The head and shaft often show the effects of such a workout, and rest, soap and water, and occasionally mild antibacterial ointment are reasonable treatments. Most minor damage goes away quickly, and lubrication by itself or with a condom will help prevent future skin irritation or damage from overly enthusiastic masturbation or sex.

If these (or new) bumps are growing or changing on your penis or if you notice bumps inside your scrotum or penis, a visit to your health care provider is in order. Students at Columbia on the Morningsid campus can make an appointment through Open Communicator or by calling 212-854-2284. Students on the Medical Center campus can reach out to the Student Health Service by calling 212-305-3400. And, if you think these bumps might be a result of spanking the monkey too hard, try petting him!


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