Is this cause for concern?

Many things can cause white spots to form on your foreskin. For example, some men are born with conditions that cause them, or they may develop spots if they don’t bathe regularly. They’re also a common symptom of certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Keep reading to learn more about what may be causing your symptoms and how to treat it.

1. Penile papules

Penile papules are rows of tiny white growths around the head, or glans, of your penis. Penile papules are harmless. It’s not clear what causes them, but they’re not associated with any condition or STI.

What treatment options are available?

Your doctor usually won’t recommend removal unless the papules cause you anxiety or stress.

Possible options for removal include:

  • Excisional surgery. Your doctor will use a scalpel to cut each papule off.
  • Laser surgery. Your doctor will use laser surgical techniques to break apart and remove the papules.
  • Cryosurgery. Your doctor will use liquid nitrogen to freeze the papules, causing them to break off your penis.

2. Fordyce spots

Fordyce spots are enlarged sebaceous glands that are visible on the surface of your skin. Sebaceous glands help keep your skin moisturized. They’re normally covered by skin, but they can appear on your skin in clusters of white spots.

Fordyce spots are harmless. They can appear almost anywhere on your body, including the foreskin of your penis. You’re usually born with them, though they may not appear until you go through puberty.

What treatment options are available?

Your doctor usually won’t recommend treatment unless you want them removed.

Possible options for removal include:

  • Laser treatment. Your doctor will use laser surgical techniques to remove tissue and minimize the appearance of Fordyce spots.
  • Micro-punch surgery. Your doctor will use a device to poke through your skin and remove tissue that’s causing the Fordyce spots.

3. Pimple

Pimples can develop when body oils or dead tissues get stuck in your pores and cause blockage. When your pores are blocked, bacteria can grow and fill the pore with infected pus. This causes a pimple to turn white.

Pimples are usually harmless and will fade in time. Don’t pop a pimple. This can make the inflammation worse or cause permanent scars. Let them disappear on their own.

What treatment options are available?

You can help treat pimples by applying benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to remove bacteria and excess skin and oils. But don’t use acne medication intended for your face or other parts of your body on your penis.

4. Balanitis

Balanitis occurs when the skin on the head of your penis is irritated or swollen. White spots around your penis head and foreskin can be a symptom.

Other symptoms include:

  • redness
  • pain when urinating
  • penis soreness or itchiness

If balanitis is due to an infection (fungal or bacterial), you may see a white matter or discharge.

What treatment options are available?

To reduce irritation, apply a corticosteroid cream like betamethasone (Betaloan SUIK) to your foreskin as needed.

If you suspect an infection, see your doctor. They may prescribe a topical antifungal or antibiotics to help clear any infection that may have developed.

You should also see your doctor right away if you notice symptoms after becoming sexually active or having sex with new or multiple partners.

5. Folliculitis

Folliculitis occurs when the follicles that hold individual hairs become swollen. This may result from a bacterial infection, fungal infection, or ingrown hair.

Folliculitis can be itchy and irritating. However, it usually isn’t harmful unless it results from an infection that goes untreated.

See your doctor right away if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • burning or itching
  • pus or discharge from white bumps or blisters
  • pain or tenderness around bumps

What treatment options are available?

Depending on the cause, folliculitis can be treated with antibiotics or creams for fungal or bacterial infections.

If you frequently get folliculitis, your doctor may recommend laser surgery to remove hair follicles or procedures to drain and clean larger infections.

6. Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection. It can be spread by skin-to-skin contact, having sex with a person with the condition, or sharing infected clothing, towels, or other objects.

White spots or bumps are a common symptom of this condition. They may begin as small and white or flesh-colored spots, but can become larger, redder, and more irritated as your body fights the infection.

What treatment options are available?

Oftentimes, these bumps will clear without treatment.

But if your lesions are large or otherwise causing you discomfort, your doctor may recommend:

  • Topical acids or blistering solution. Your doctor may apply these on the bumps to get rid of them by destroying the top layer of skin.
  • Curettage surgery. Your doctor will use a tool called a curette to scrape the bumps off.
  • Laser surgery. Your doctor will use laser surgical techniques to break apart and remove the bumps.
  • Cryosurgery. Your doctor will use liquid nitrogen to freeze the bumps, causing them to break off your penis.

7. Penile yeast infection

A penile yeast infection is a fungal infection caused by the Candida albicans fungus. It can be spread by having sex with someone who has a yeast infection or by not practicing good genital hygiene.

If you have a yeast infection, symptoms will usually appear around the head of your penis or under your foreskin.

Other symptoms include:

  • white or red bumps
  • redness
  • irritation
  • discharge that resembles cottage cheese
  • tightness of the foreskin

What treatment options are available?

Topical antifungal ointments and creams are usually enough to clear up an infection.

Common options include:

  • miconazole (Desenex)
  • clotrimazole (Canesten and Lotrimin AF)

8. Genital warts as a result of HPV

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is an STI that’s easily spread by unprotected sex. Genital warts are a common symptom of HPV. They look like white or red bumps, and may appear around your penis, foreskin, or genital area.

HPV that causes genital warts is temporary. It doesn’t cause any long-term complications. Genital warts may remain longer if your immune system is weak or if you have multiple sexual partners.

What treatment options are available?

If you suspect that you have genital warts or HPV, see your doctor for diagnosis.

They may recommend:

  • Topical medication. Your doctor will apply a solution that can help your immune system clear the wart or break down or burn off warts.
  • Laser surgery. Your doctor will use laser surgical techniques to break apart and remove the warts.
  • Cryosurgery. Your doctor will use liquid nitrogen to freeze the warts, causing them to break off your genital area.

9. Genital warts as a result of herpes

Herpes is a viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. Genital warts are a common symptom. They look like white or red bumps.

Other symptoms that affect your foreskin or penis may include:

  • redness
  • irritation
  • itching
  • blisters that burst and release pus

What treatment options are available?

If you suspect that you have genital warts or herpes simplex virus, see your doctor for diagnosis.

Your doctor will likely prescribe antiviral medication to help your body fight the infection. Although these drugs can’t prevent future outbreaks, they can help speed up the healing time of your sores and reduce pain.

Common options include:

  • imiquimod (Aldara)
  • podophyllin and podofilox (Condylox)
  • trichloroacetic acid (TCA)

These medications may be taken at the first sign of an outbreak to help reduce your symptoms.

When to see your doctor

White spots that appear on your foreskin aren’t always a cause for concern. Oftentimes, they disappear within a few days or weeks. If your symptoms last longer than a week or two, see your doctor for diagnosis.

See your doctor if you begin experiencing:

  • pain
  • swelling
  • soreness
  • redness or irritation
  • dry, cracked skin
  • rash
  • clear discharge
  • clusters of 20 or more red or white bumps
  • cauliflower-shaped areas of bumps

Sometimes, white spots on your foreskin are a sign of an STI or other infection. These can lead to long-term complications if left untreated.