Foreskin rocks

Originally Published: December 13, 1996 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: April 4, 2008
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Dear Alice,

I am an uncircumcised male. About 1-1/2 years ago, I noticed a *small* hard rock-like object in my foreskin. It is very near the tip of my penis. Any ideas what it is?

Dear Reader,

Way to keep a heads-up on things going on down there. It sounds like you're doing exactly what you should be: monitoring your body for unusual symptoms and reaching out for help when you notice any.

Bumps on the penis can have many potential causes ranging from sexually transmitted infections to generally harmless cysts or plaque; check out Bumps/lumps on penis for an overview. The small, very hard rock-like bump you describe could be a caused by a few different conditions, including Peyronie's disease or a cyst. Although bumps can be caused by penile cancer, this seems unlikely for you because you are so young.

Peyronie's disease is a condition where hard bumps made from plaque form on the penis. These bumps can appear on any part of the penis. They may cause some swelling or irritation and over time they harden. The cause of Peyronie's is not known but research suggests that it may be caused by trauma, vasculitis, connective tissue disorders, or genes.

Plaque bumps often go away on their own, usually within two years of first appearing. If the rock-like bump you describe doesn't seem to be getting smaller, you have the option of having it removed surgically, but surgery presents some risks and side effects. Alternately, medication may be injected into the plaque to help it soften.

What you describe could also be a cyst, which is a sac that may appear in many parts of the body, and may vary in size and hardness. Most cysts are harmless, though they can have symptoms dependent on where they appear in your body. Cysts are sometimes removed surgically, or drained using a needle.

Although bumps from plaques and cycts are generally not harmful, you may still want to consider seeing a health care professional who can help you figure out what is causing the bump and whether there is anything you can do to have it removed. Columbia students can go to Open Communicator or call x4-2284 for an appointment. If you're not a Columbia student, contact your primary care provider.

Staying aware of your body and its changes is important. As always, if you're concerned about something, see a professional — you can at the very least get some peace of mind.

Alice