Pearly Penile Papules


It’s perfectly normal to be a bit worried if you notice any small growths on your penis. It’s possible that you might have pearly penile papules (PPP), also called pink pearly papules, or hirsutoid papillomas.  PPP is often confused with a sexually transmitted infection called “genital warts” and another skin condition called “molluscum contagiosum.” Read on to learn more about PPP.

What are pearly penile papules (PPP) and what do they look like?

PPP are small, benign (non-cancerous) growths. They are not associated with any symptoms; they are not itchy or painful. They typically first appear in adolescence or early adulthood.

They are:

  • Pearly white, pink, or yellow
  • Dome-shaped or filiform (i.e. threadlike) bumps
  • 1-2 mm wide and 1-4 mm long
  • Usually in 1-2 rows around the head of the penis

Why do some guys have PPP?

Experts aren’t completely sure why some guys have PPP. Since PPP aren’t harmful in any way, they are also considered a normal skin variation. They are estimated to occur in 1 in 7 to 1 in 2 males. Additionally, guys can have PPP regardless of their race, geographic location, or sexualbehaviors. They are more common in guys who are uncircumcised..

Are PPP contagious?

No. PPP are not contagious. You can’t get them through contact with a person who has them, and there is no way you can “infect” someone with them through sexual contact.

Are PPP genital warts?

No, PPP are not the same as genital warts. Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection. Genital warts are small, cauliflower shaped growths that can also develop on or around a guy’s anus, thighs, groin, scrotum, penis, lips, mouth, tongue, or throat. Unlike PPP, genital warts are contagious.

I think I might have PPP. Should I see my health care provider?

Yes. If you’re ever concerned about any lumps or bumps on your genital region, you should make an appointment with your health care provider or dermatologist (skin specialist).

What is the treatment for PPP?

Health care providers prefer to leave PPP alone, because the papules don’t cause any health problems. Do NOT try to pick at them or pop them, and NEVER use an over the counter “wart remover” anywhere on your penis – these medicines can cause severe skin irritation and scarring as they are not meant to be used on the penis. In rare cases providers may suggest laser therapy or cryotherapy (freezing them) however your health insurance may not cover this treatment.

Do PPP ever go away?

Most of the time guys have PPP for a while. You may notice less bumps over time though.

I have PPP – should I be worried?

No! PPP are harmless skin growths. Although it’s completely normal to be concerned at first; once you know the facts, there’s really nothing to worry about.

If you’re concerned about PPP, here’s a tip on how to bring it up with your provider: “I have these little white (or other color) bumps on my penis – what are they?”