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What Are the Most Common Causes of Penis Rashes?

A. Pasbjerg
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are a number of common reasons that a man can develop a rash on the penis. It may be the result of a sexually transmitted disease such as chlamydia, herpes, or syphilis. Rashes on the penis are sometimes caused by an allergic reaction to an irritant that comes in contact with the skin there. Infections, from bacteria, fungus, or parasites, are another common problem that frequently lead to penile rash. Men with a chronic condition that causes rash, such as psoriasis or eczema, may find that it tends to affect the penis and the surrounding skin of the groin.

Some of the main causes of penis rashes are sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs. A number of STDs including herpes, genital warts, and chlamydia can all cause rashes along the penis and on the surrounding skin of the groin, as well as sores, blisters, and irritation. Men who suspect their rash is due to an infection contracted during sexual activity should speak to a doctor, as medication or other treatment is typically needed to clear up the issue.

Allergic reactions can also frequently lead to penis rashes. There is a wide variety of irritants that can cause contact dermatitis in the genital area. Chemicals from dyes or detergents used on clothes may be to blame, as can soaps, lotions, or perfumes. Plants such as poison ivy or oak sometimes cause irritation and rash if they come in contact with the penis. Some men are allergic to latex, and therefore may have an allergic reaction from using condoms made of it.

Penis rashes also occur due to infections on the skin. Bacterial infections like impetigo may cause them. Fungal infections such as yeast infections or tinea cruris, also known as jock itch, can also grow easily in this area, particularly if a man wears tight underwear or pants that cause the groin to become hot or damp from perspiration for long periods of time. The parasite scabies can also cause a rash on the penis.

Sometimes ongoing skin conditions tend to cause penis rashes as well. Both eczema and psoriasis can lead to scaly, itchy, irritated areas on the groin, as well as on other parts of the body. Rashes caused by these conditions tend to appear in response to stress, skin irritation, or other triggers, and will then clear up for periods of time before re-occurring.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
A. Pasbjerg
By A. Pasbjerg
Andrea Pasbjerg, a WiseGeek contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.
Discussion Comments
By anon996727 — On Oct 08, 2016

Can using lotion also cause a rash? Never had one before but suddenly bam!

By SeanH — On Apr 21, 2015

Penis rashes are extremely uncomfortable and inconvenient. The best way to treat a current rash and prevent a future outbreak is a penis health creme. These cremes are designed specifically for penis skin and treat all sorts of issues down there. Just make sure you get a good creme containing all natural ingredients to avoid side effects. Hope this helps, guys!

By anon352860 — On Oct 25, 2013

From my experience, the most common reason for penis rashes would seem to be an improper soap or laundry detergent. Because the skin on the penis is so thin (in order to allow for the necessary sensitivity that makes sex worthwhile), it is more prone to dermatological reactions to cleansers than other parts of the body.

Finding the right, mild but effective cleanser can be challenging. It can help to soothe the rashy penis with a respectable penis nutrient formula (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil). Moisturizing the penis is key, so a formula that includes a hydrator like vitamin E and a superior emollient such as shea butter is likely to do a better job of easing the irritation associated with a rash.

By anon351904 — On Oct 17, 2013

I have two that have randomly appeared, and I can only put it down to stress. The human body is a funny thing.

By anon344323 — On Aug 08, 2013

I had a good size rash on my penis for almost one year. I was using Vaseline, Neosporin etc. with no results, just relief. Then I remembered I had an itch ointment prescription so I tried that. It cleared up my rash in three days and it has not returned. It's been about six weeks now. The ointment is called Mometasone Furoate Ointment 0.1 percent, and it did the trick. You need to get a prescription for it.

By KoiwiGal — On May 26, 2013

@MrsPramm - That's actually something people should generally bear in mind. If your sexual partner has a rash, even if it doesn't seem that bad, it makes it that much easier for you to share STDs between you. The same thing goes for women.

It's just common sense that if you've got injured skin transmission is more possible.

Now, a person having a rash is not necessarily proof that they have an STD, but it is definitely something that would make me hesitate and ask some questions.

By MrsPramm — On May 25, 2013

I really do think the most common cause of penis rashes is probably poor hygiene. I don't mean that all of them are caused by that, but there are plenty of people who don't wash as carefully as they might, and even a day of neglect can result in a rash.

It's actually one of the reasons they advocate for people in poorer countries to be circumcised. Having a foreskin makes it that much more difficult to wash, especially when there isn't a lot of water to wash with, and poor hygiene can increase the possibility of people getting STDs, possibly because having a rash makes it easier to get STDs.

By anon336027 — On May 25, 2013

Guess not. Well, if this helps anyone, I coincidentally got a new tattoo and got prescribed Bepanthen for the tattoo's healing. So I used some on my penis and it cleared up my problem over night. So I hope this helps anyone else who experiences this problem.

By croydon — On May 25, 2013

@anon335859 - Well, sometimes an allergic reaction can start to happen even if you haven't changed anything about your habits, just because you become sensitive to chemicals after long exposure.

But, if I were you, I would just type something like "small red lesions" into a search engine and start looking at pictures. There are dozens of different conditions that could cause what you've described and it's impossible for anyone to say unless they take a look (and even then it's difficult).

I don't really think people should self diagnose, but if you are determined to not go to the doctor, you can at least try to figure out how serious it may or may not be by eliminating some of the possibilities.

By anon335859 — On May 24, 2013

Okay, here goes. About two weeks ago, I noticed that I had tiny lesions on my shaft below the glans, that burns and itch a bit.

Then a few days ago, I noticed small red spots on the glans and shaft close by. The surrounding area is also quite red, mostly under the glans on the left side, but the spots are all over the ridge area. It burned a bit in the shower.

I am uncircumcised. but I shower everyday and (you know) quite regularly so it can't be poor hygiene. I haven't had sex in a few years, admittedly, so it can't be an STD.

I'm clueless and this is embarrassing. I've never had a problem before and this is rather worrying. Does anyone have any advice? (besides see a doctor and the obvious online conclusions). Thanks for any input.

A. Pasbjerg
A. Pasbjerg
Andrea Pasbjerg, a WiseGeek contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.
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