Most men are intimately familiar with the topography of their penis and are aware of every bump, follicle, scrape and blemish. Not surprisingly, the development of any new or unusual lumps, spots or penis warts can be alarming and lead men to assume the worst about penis warts and STIs.
While sexually transmitted infection is always a concern for sexually active men, there are a multitude of other things that can go wrong. One such issue, known by the ominous-sounding name of sebaceous hyperplasia (SH), is actually quite benign and does not pose a threat to a man’s sexual health. However, identifying these blemishes is necessary in order rule out any other potential causes. The symptoms of SH are described here, along with some common-sense penis skin care suggestions.
What is sebaceous hyperplasia?
With the exception of the palms of the hands and the bottoms of the feet, the surface of the skin, which may appear smooth from a distance, is actually dotted with millions of tiny holes, or follicles. Most of these contain a hair shaft, and all of them contain tiny glands that produce a type of oil known as sebum. This substance is designed to lubricate the hair and skin and to provide waterproofing in mammals. Sebaceous hyperplasia is simply an overgrowth of these glands (known as sebaceous glands) around the hair follicle.
The enlarged glands occur mainly on the face and around the lips of older men and women, although they can also occur on the chest and other parts of the body. In younger men, they may occur on the shaft of the penis, or they may appear as warts on foreskin in uncircumcised men.
What are the symptoms of SH?
Sebaceous hyperplasia generally appears as puffy, yellowish bumps with a depressed center; on the penis, they may closely resemble genital warts. As previously noted, they may occur on the shaft or underneath the foreskin. While affected individuals may be concerned about their appearance, they rarely cause any other symptoms.
Is SH contagious?
Sebaceous hyperplasia is a normal genetic variation; it is not a disease, and it cannot be transferred to another person, including a sexual partner.
Can SH be cured?
Currently, there is no cure for SH. Treatment of SH is only carried out for cosmetic purposes, and most dermatologists recommend leaving them alone. Penis warts and bumps on other parts of the body may be removed by CO2 cauterization, laser treatment or excision. However, these procedures may cause scarring, and they will not prevent the lesions from recurring.
Care and grooming of the penis skin
While there is no known method of preventing sebaceous hyperplasia of the penis, men can take steps to ensure that the penis skin is as healthy and attractive as possible. Washing daily can help to remove built-up body oils and dead skin cells that can further aggravate problem skin, especially in men who are uncircumcised. Keeping the skin moisturized is also important, as this prevents drying of the skin; dry skin has a tendency to develop small fissures, or cracks, that allow bacteria to penetrate.
Furthermore, men should keep in mind that any perceived abnormalities of the penis are probably more apparent to them than to a potential sexual partner. Having a conversation about the penis warts and letting a partner know that it is a benign, non-contagious condition is the best policy.
Adding a penis health crème (most health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil) containing high quality moisturizers such as shea butter, as well as blemish-fighting nutrients such as vitamin A, to the daily personal care routine may help to improve the overall appearance of the skin, as well as leaving it soft and responsive to tactile stimulation.