What causes penile rash?

Penile rash can result from a number of different causes, and evaluating other symptoms in conjunction can help identify the cause. Some sexually transmitted infections may result in bumps, blisters, or a rash on the genitals. Other causes are related to allergic reactions or irritation.

Sexually transmitted causes of penile rash

Penile rash may be caused by certain sexually transmitted diseases including:

  • Genital warts
  • Herpes
  • Molluscum contagiosum
  • Scabies

Other causes of penile rash

Penile rash can also be caused by:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Balanitis (inflammation of the foreskin)
  • Dermatitis, including contact dermatitis such as poison ivy
  • Irritation from chemicals such as soaps or detergents
  • Psoriasis (chronic inflammatory skin condition)
  • Tinea cruris (jock itch; a fungal infection of the groin)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of penile rash

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your penile rash including:

  • How long have you had the rash?
  • Does it hurt to urinate or ejaculate?
  • Have you experienced this before?
  • Do you have any other symptoms, such as discharge or itching?
  • Have you started using any new detergents or soaps?
  • Are you sexually active? Are you having unprotected sex, or do you have multiple partners?
  • What medications are you taking?

What are the potential complications of penile rash?

Because penile rash can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Penile or scrotal cancer
  • Scarring and narrowing of the opening of the penis
  • Scarring of the penis
  • Spread of infection
  • Transmission of STDs to sexual partners


  1. Balanitis. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001865/.
  2. Genital problems in men. FamilyDoctor.org. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/health-tools/search-by-symptom/genital-problems-men.html.
  3. Tierney LM Jr., Saint S, Whooley MA (Eds.) Current Essentials of Medicine (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.
  4. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH.

What is a penile rash?

A penile rash is the presence of spots or sores on the penis and possibly on other areas of the groin or genitals. It can be accompanied by itching that may be intense, and pain or tenderness. Related symptoms may include blisters; burning or pain with urination; redness, warmth or swelling; scabbing; and scar tissue.

Penile rash can be extremely uncomfortable or awkward and may c... Read more about penile rashintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with penile rash?

Penile rash may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Genitourinary symptoms that may occur along with penile rash

Penile rash may accompany other symptoms affecting the genitourinary system including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Male Reproductive System