A scab on your penis can have many causes. Learn when it's something you should be concerned about and what treatment options can help.
A scab on your hand, leg, or face may not seem like a big deal. However, if you spot a scab on the penis, the sight can be a little more concerning, especially if you're not sure how a scab came to be.
Scabs on the penis are not rare, but they can have unique underlying causes. Sometimes those causes are not major enough to warrant treatment, while sometimes, a scab on the penis is caused by something like a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Skin conditions such as skin allergies, psoriasis, and molluscum contagiosum can cause scabs on the penis.
Some of the STIs that can cause penis scabs include genital warts, genital herpes, and syphilis.
Scabs form anywhere there has been a cut or injury to the skin. If you've had a cut or injury on the penis, it's normal for a scab to form.
Find out more about scabbing on the penis, when to be concerned, and more.
Scabs are simply the body's way of making sure there is no excessive blood loss when the skin is broken.
Platelets collect at the sight where an injury occurs, fibrin forms, and blood cells collect to form a scab on the skin's surface. This process can occur anywhere on the body, including when skin is broken on the penis.
While a scab on the penis is natural if the skin has been pierced, scratched, or otherwise injured, scabs can also be a sign of certain skin conditions.
When skin conditions affect the genitals, the situation can be more concerning and uncomfortable simply because the area tends to be more sensitive than other parts of the body.
Likewise, the more sensitive location can mean treatment for a skin condition affecting the penis can be different from usual.
Most often, skin conditions that could cause scabs on the penis shaft or scabs on the penis head will be one that is affiliated with broken skin, rashes, or blisters.
Below is a look at a few skin conditions that may lead to scabbing on the penis.
Skin allergies can lead to different forms of symptoms that affect the skin, such as redness, itching, or bumps.
People can have sensitivities to different allergens that cause allergic contact dermatitis. This means a reaction occurs when your skin is exposed to a certain allergen.
However, contact dermatitis may also occur even when there is no allergy, only a sensitivity to the specific compound.
Contact dermatitis can be related to:
Whether a reaction is related to an allergy or simply a sensitivity to certain agents, the outcome can be the same: irritated, broken, or itchy skin. These symptoms could potentially lead to scabs on the penis.
Psoriasis, which affects roughly three percent of adults in the US, may also lead to scabs on the penis.
When an individual has psoriasis, their immune system malfunctions on some level and causes a rapid uptick in skin cell production. This causes excess layers of skin cells that look like raised scales or plaques on the skin's surface.
Psoriasis most often causes scaling on places like the scalp, elbows, or needs.
Nevertheless, it is not impossible for psoriasis to also affect the genitals and other parts of the body.
Plaques and scales caused by psoriasis can feel and look like regular scabs. However, unlike scabs, psoriasis scales show up with no known skin abrasion or injury.
Psoriasis can also cause the affected areas of the skin to feel itchy and irritated. And, scratching or picking at the scaly areas could cause further damage to the skin that could lead to legitimate scabbing on the penis.
Molluscum contagiosum is a mild viral skin infection that is characterized by small, itchy bumps or lesions.
Mollusca lesions are raised bumps that can vary in size but tend to be relatively small.
Each bump usually has a tiny pit or dimple in the center, and the bump itself can be anywhere from the same color as the flesh to pink or white.
However, molluscum contagiosum can also be spread by handling everyday objects that have been contaminated with the virus through physical contact with an infected individual.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, examples include:
Unlike some other skin conditions, molluscum contagiosum does commonly affect the genitals.
This may be related to the fact that the virus is most often spread by skin-to-skin contact with an infected individual and can be spread during sex.
The small bumps caused by molluscum contagiosum can look like an odd rash, and the bumps can be itchy.
If you accidentally break the skin or one of the bumps breaks open, this could easily lead to a scab on the penis head or a scab on the penis shaft.
Finding a scab on the penis is not a surefire sign that you have an STI, but an STI is always something to consider.
Certain STIs can and do cause rashes, sores, lesions, bumps, and even scabbing.
Usually, each STI will come along with telltale indicators in terms of the appearance of the scab, but other existing symptoms are also present.
A few STIs that can cause a scab on the penis and what that may look like include:
In the event you have had unprotected sex or suspect you have symptoms of an STI, it is important to speak to a medical professional and get tested right away. Not only can having an STI put your sexual partners at risk, but some conditions can also be life-threatening.
Scabbing on the penis can definitely be alarming, but finding a scab on the penis does not always mean there is a serious cause for concern.
Scabs develop in the same fashion no matter where on the body the skin is broken. Therefore, if you find a scab on the penis head, and you had a small bump, cut, lesion, or other injury recently, the scab is perfectly normal.
Something else to consider, the penis may be prone to friction burns during sex or masturbation. Friction burns on the penis come from high-friction contact. For example, having sexual intercourse without enough lube could cause a friction burn.
A friction burn may look like red irritated skin and feel a lot like an actual mild burn. However, the appearance and sensation are actually coming from tiny, often-invisible tears in the skin.
Since friction burns do involve skin tearing, scabs on the penis as the tears heal are a possibility. In this case, a scab on the penis would be a normal situation.
Pay close attention to scabs that show up with no known origin, as these should be further investigated.
If the scab on your penis is suspected to have stemmed from some normal injury or friction burn, you can simply wait on the area to heal.
A few things to keep in mind if you have a normal scab:
In the event scabbing on the penis is suspected to be caused by a skin condition or an STI, treatment processes can vary.
If you suspect either an STI or skin condition, be sure to discuss your symptoms and scabbing with a healthcare provider for advice.
A penis scab can last different lengths of time depending on:
The general timeline for a scab to fall off is one to two weeks, but again, this timeline can vary significantly depending on the aforementioned factors.
Preventing injuries to the skin of the penis is ideal if you want to avoid having issues with scabbing. However, skin injuries during sex are a lot more common than most people realize.
If friction burn is the problem, invest in a high-quality lube to use during sex or masturbation.
If you suspect some kind of skin irritation is causing penis scabbing, look at your usual habits, such as:
In some cases, switching from latex condoms to polyurethane may help. Likewise, if you have sensitivity to a certain lube, try switching to something like Promescent Organic Aloe Lube.
To prevent STIs and other skin conditions that can be passed during sex, always wear a condom. Also, avoid sharing things like towels, razors, or underwear with others.
Any time you find scabs of unknown origin on your penis, it is best to seek medical advice.
If the scabs are accompanied by other symptoms like swelling, pain, fatigue, or signs of infection like oozing or redness, seek medical attention right away.
A scab on the penis can happen for a lot of reasons, some serious and some totally benign.
In some cases, scabbing on the penis can be related to something as simple as friction burn or a small pimple. However, scabs can also be related to serious skin conditions and STIs.
Any time you have a scab that causes concern, it can be a good idea to talk to your doctor for advice.
Our team has over a decade of experience in the sexual wellness field and are experts in sexual dysfunctions, like premature ejaculation. We help couples and individuals better understand treatment options available for different types of sexual needs and educate the public on all things related to intimacy. All of our authored content is medically reviewed for accuracy and reliability.
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