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Genital sores - male

 

Definition

A male genital sore is any sore or lesion that appears on the penis, scrotum, or male urethra.

Alternative Names

Sores - male genitals; Ulcers - male genitals

Common Causes

Sores or lesions on the male genitalia have many causes. Often, the lesions of most concern are those seen with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). For example,genital herpes simplex, syphilis, chancroid, granuloma inguinale, and lymphogranuloma venereum are all associated with ulcers on the genitals.

Other lesions in this area may be caused by venereal warts, molluscum contagiosum, allergic reactions, Behcet's disease, and non-sexually transmitted diseases.

Home Care

Avoid self-treatment before seeing a doctor. It can hide signs and symptoms and make diagnosis more difficult. Avoid all sexual contact until you have a medical exam.

Call your health care provider if

Call for an appointment with your doctor if you have any unexplained genital sores or if new ones appear in other parts of your body.

What to expect at your health care provider's office

The doctor will perform a physical examination. The exam will include looking at the genital, pelvis, skin, lymph nodes, mouth, and throat.

The doctor will ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:

  • Description:
    • What does the sore look like? For example, is it an ulcer, blister, hard lump (nodule), or pustule?
    • Does it hurt?
    • Does it itch?
    • What color is it?
    • Does the border look sharp or blurry?
    • Is there more than one sore?
    • Where are the sores located?
  • Time Pattern:
    • When did you first notice the sore?
    • How long have you had it?
    • Have you ever had a similar sore in the past?
  • Other:
    • What are your sexual habits?
    • Is there drainage from the penis?
    • Is there painful urination?
    • Is there painful sexual intercourse?
    • Any fevers, chills or enlarged lymph nodes?

Tests that may be done include:

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause and may include antiviral medicines and antibiotics. Your doctor may ask you to avoid sexual activity or use a condom for a while, depending on your diagnosis.

Considerations

Symptoms may include itching, painful urination, drainage from the penis, or pain at the site of the sore. There may be one or many sores. They may also be found elsewhere on the body (such as the mouth and throat).

Prevention

References

Link RE. Cutaneous diseases of the external genitalia. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 13.


Review Date: 7/27/2009
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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