Northside Health Library


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

Considerations

Symptoms of male genital sores may include:

Sore may also be found elsewhere on the body (such as the mouth and throat).

Causes

Male genital sores can be caused by many different things. Those most concerning are caused by sexually transmitted infections (STI). For example, genital herpes simplex, syphilis, chancroid, granuloma inguinale, and lymphogranuloma venereum can cause ulcers on the genitals.

Other types of male genital soress may be caused by venereal warts, molluscum contagiosum, allergic reactions, Behcet's disease, and non-sexually transmitted infections.

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.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

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 Office Visit

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.

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.

Workowski KA, Berman S; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2010. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2010;59:1-110.


Review Date: 9/12/2011
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, 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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