Moles on penis

Originally Published: January 27, 1995 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: May 11, 2012
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Dear Alice,

I have about six or seven small, white, mole-like things on my penis. They don't cause me any discomfort or anything during intercourse etc., however, I have become obsessed with them. Is there a way I can get them removed? Should I get them removed? Would removal be an easy procedure? Would there be any downfalls to removal? I am awaiting to hear your answer.

Thanx,

ME

Dear ME,

Seeing spots on one’s penis can be unsettling. There are many possible explanations, and most of them are harmless. Moles are a type of nevus, or a skin blemish that can be flat, raised slightly above the skin's surface, or on a stalk. They can be colored or not colored, and with or without hair growth. Moles are not usually present at birth, and may spread as a person grows older, forming an average of 15-20 per person by adulthood. Most are harmless and do not require any treatment. The only cause for concern would be if a nevus suddenly grows, changes color, or bleeds. It’s not clear from your question, however, that these spots are indeed moles, especially because they are white. Moles generally are areas of concentrated melanin, or pigment (they typically have color).

Another possibility is that they could be pearly penile papules, small (1-3mm), harmless spots that can develop on the penis. Men tend to develop them between ages 20-40 and they are fairly common, appearing on about 10% of men. They are often mistaken for warts, but they are harmless — not irritating or itchy, not contagious, nor infectious— though what causes them is currently unknown. For men who feel distressed about them, there are cosmetic laser procedures to remove them, though they usually fade on their own with age.

A third possibility is that they could be warts. There are many types of warts that could appear on the penis. Some warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection. This virus can cause cervical or anal cancer, so it’s a good idea to visit a health care provider to get tested in order to rule this out as a cause, as it is one of the most common STIs out there. It’s also one that your body is likely to clear eventually, if your immune system has not been compromised.

A fourth, but pretty remote possibility, is that your bumps could be a rare form of skin cancer called melanoma. While this would be an unlikely cause, (unless you have a direct family history or you regularly sunbathe nude, without sunscreen) it might be worth getting screened to rule this out, as well.

So, as is probably obvious by now, a visit to a health care provider is in order so that a proper diagnosis can be made. Columbia students can make an appointment at Medical Services by calling x4-2284 or logging on to Open Communicator. One reason you may be feeling obsessed with these spots is the uncertainly of not knowing what they are. If you get tested and discover that these spots are harmless, do you think you would still be obsessed with them? Once you know there’s no concern to your health, then it may be worth exploring whether or not they still bother you, and if so, why. Then you can decide if it’s worth trying to have them removed. You may find that having a spotted penis is just one of your many traits and charms that make you unique and special.

Alice