Dr. Nadheer K M (AIIMS)MBBS

March 18, 2020

June 04, 2022

Pearly penile papules are small, non-cancerous growths that are seen on or around the head of the penis. Around 14-18% of males present with pearly penile papule either during adolescence or early adulthood. The papules - or small bumps - can be of various colours like white, pink, yellow and sometimes translucent. Their size may range from 1mm to 2 mm in width and 1mm to 4 mm in length. They either appear in a single row or in a double row.

Pearly penile papules are also known as hirsutoid papilloma, papillomatosis corona penis, and corona capillitii. Since there is no certain cause of pearly penile papules, it is impossible to prevent it.

Since the papules are harmless, most doctors do not recommend any treatment. For those who get worried about it from an aesthetic point of view, treatment involves cryotherapy, electrodesiccation and curettage and carbon dioxide laser ablation.

Symptoms of pearly penile papules

The symptoms of pearly penile papules are:

  • Small bumps present on the surface of the penis 
  • White, pink or yellow coloured bumps on the surface of the skin
  • Painless dome-like structures 
  • Papules are 1mm to 2 mm in width and 1mm to 4 mm in length
  • The bumps are uniform, dome-shaped and arranged in one or two lines - this feature is important to distinguish it in appearance from sexually transmitted diseases such as condyloma acuminata (genital warts caused by human papillomavirus or HPV).
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Cause and prevention of pearly penile papules

Doctors have not found any specific cause of pearly penile papules but the American Urological Association states that these papules can be the remnants of tissues of the embryo.

Since the cause of the condition is not known, prevention of pearly penile papules is not possible. That said, these bumps on the head and shaft of the penis are painless and do not cause any harm to the person.

(Consult a doctor with doctor consultation app)

Treatment of pearly penile papules

Pearly penile papules are painless and benign. As such, no treatment is required for them. However, some people may feel the need to get rid of them - partly because these bumps can resemble genital warts - an STD. For these people, the treatment involves:

  • Cryotherapy: The use of extremely cold temperatures to freeze and destroy the targetted papules. This method is helpful in removing the papules without any scarring.
  • Electrodesiccation and curettage: Electrodesiccation and curettage is another term for scraping or burning-off skin growths. In the case of pearly penile papules, the papules are scraped off with a special tool and then the area is cauterized until the bleeding stops. The wound heals in a week or two, leaving a white scar.
  • Carbon dioxide laser ablation: Carbon dioxide lasers are used to remove the papules from the penis. This is the most favourable treatment for papule removal.