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Pearly Penile Papules

PPPs are tiny raised bumps that appear on the shaft just below your penis’ head.
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What are PPP (pearly penile papules)?

PPPs are tiny raised bumps that appear on the shaft just below your penis’ head. They usually assume your skin’s color and occur around the penis. Most people often mistake PPP for sexually transmitted infections, or skin lesions such as viral warts, Molluscum contagiosum, or even Fordyce spots.
However, the truth is that PPPs are neither caused by any infection nor any kind of disease. They are harmless.

What causes pearly penile papules?

Pearly penile papules are sometimes falsely thought to be a sexually transmitted disease. However, this condition has no outside cause; it is not the result of any underlying condition or infection. The threads or bumps are neither premalignant or malignant.
While the exact cause of PPP still remains unknown, health experts agree that PPP is a normal anatomic condition.

How prevalent is PPP?

Pearly penile papules are relatively common – nearly 38% of males aged above 25 have PPP. It’s been proven that this condition tends to disappear with age; only 11% of men aged 50 and above have this condition. PPP also tends to be more prevalent among uncircumcised males.

What are the symptoms of pearly penile papules?

Pearly penile papules do not show any significantly visible symptoms. They are:

  • Generally smooth
  • Look like small threads or bumps
  • Measure between 1 and 4 millimeters in diameter
  • Usually form around the head of the penis

Should symptoms appear, they will not spread or change in shape or size.
However, if you ever notice any discoloration, bumps, or any other unusual feature develop on or around your genitals, you should immediately schedule an appointment with a doctor.

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What is the difference between pearly penile papules and genital warts?

 Genital wartsPearly penile papules
Characterised byCauliflower-shaped growths caused by the Human PapillomavirusRelatively smaller and more precisely arranged
Transmitted sexuallyYesNo
Increase in sizeYesNo

How are pearly penile papules diagnosed in Singapore?

PPPs are diagnosed through:

  • Physical examination
  • Examining the tissue under a handheld microscope-like device known as a dermatoscope

It is highly recommended that you consult your doctor if you see any form of lumps on skin-related problems in your penis and your genital area in general. Getting the correct diagnosis of pearly penile papules will provide both you and your sexual partner or partners with peace of mind knowing you are free from any form of sexually transmitted diseases.


How are pearly penile papules treated?

It is not always necessary to treat PPP. They are usually free from any serious or painful symptoms, so there is no need for pain relievers such as creams.
However, if you are very concerned or embarrassed about the bumps, you can consider treatment.
Treatment options include:

  • Carbon dioxide laser surgery
    Highly effective carbon dioxide lasers emit infrared energy that dissolves the papules. This treatment technique is highly effective and safe.
  • Cryosurgery
    This treatment technique involves the use of extreme cold to freeze the bumps so they can disappear.
  • Radiosurgery
    Targeted radiation leads to the creation of free radicals; molecules that can destroy healthy tissues. These free radicals will attack the papule cells, forcing them to fade away. However, it’s worth noting that radiosurgery is not as effective compared to carbon dioxide laser surgery.

What can you expect from the pearly penile papules removal procedure?

PPP removal procedures are generally painless and should not last more than 15 minutes. You should recover fully within a week or so.


Can you prevent pearly penile papules?
No, it is not possible to prevent PPP. After all, they are not triggered by any lifestyle choices you make. While PPPs are generally more prevalent among uncircumcised men, there is no guarantee that being circumcised will prevent the threads or bumps from occurring.
Will PPP affect your sex life?

Pearly penile papules will never impact your sex life or overall health. As you get older, they should naturally disappear.

Are there any treatment complications?

PPP treatment techniques are generally safe and highly effective. However, like any other type of treatment that involves surgery, patients may experience slight bleeding and discomfort. There are no major complications associated with PPP treatment.


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