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This article may contain information on medical procedures that are not recommended or endorsed by Catholic Health Partners. Promotion of this topic is prohibited by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services. In the Ethical and Religious Directives, Catholic health institutions are prohibited from condoning contraceptive practices. Married couples should be given information about natural family planning as well as the church’s teachings on responsible parenthood. The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only. It is not provided as a professional service or as medical advice for specific patients.

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 may include itching, painful urination, drainage from the penis, or pain at the site of the sore. There may be one or many sores. They may also be found elsewhere on the body (such as the mouth and throat).

Common Causes

Sores or lesions on the male genitalia have many causes. Often, the lesions of most concern are those seen with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). For example,genital herpes simplex, syphilis, chancroid, granuloma inguinale, and lymphogranuloma venereum are all associated with ulcers on the genitals.

Other lesions in this area may be caused by venereal warts, molluscum contagiosum, allergic reactions, Behcet's disease, and non-sexually transmitted diseases.

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.

Call your health care provider if

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 health care provider's office

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.

Prevention

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.

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    Review Date: 7/27/2009

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

    The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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