Pearly Penile Papules (PPP) can be very alarming, especially since they grow in a part that serves vital functions. These growths often get mistaken for cancer, genital warts, or sexually transmitted disease (STDs). Fortunately, PPP is harmless and unrelated to these three.
What makes men at risk of developing this condition, and can it be avoided?
How Do You Know If You Have PPP?
Some distinct features can identify PPP. Penile papules do not affect women since these appear as rows of small pearl-like bumps around the corona or rim of the penis. PPP growths are not a sign of STDs, so they don’t appear on the anus, skin, mouth, or vagina. However, because they appear in a sensitive area, men often seek medical opinion to ensure it doesn’t harm them.
PPP can be skin-colored, white, cream, yellow, or pink. Color and size don’t change throughout the course of this condition. The bumps have a defined shape which could be round, oval, or fingerlike. The edges are smooth, unlike genital warts that can appear soft, rough, or look like cauliflower. Genital warts can enlarge and become a mass, while PPP is stable and does not merge.
PPP is classified as angiofibroma, a non-cancerous growth of fibrous tissue and blood vessels. Unless there’s a superimposed infection or simultaneous genital warts, PPP is a benign presence that shouldn’t bother you.
PPP has no symptoms, while genital warts can be itchy, painful, or burning. Unlike the pimples they resemble, PPP has no center and does not contain pus or infectious material.
Another considerable difference is the treatment and management of these penile growths. Cancer, genital warts, and STDs need medical or surgical treatment. PPP isn’t dangerous and won’t spread. Patients can even treat this at home using PPP kits resembling a pen that works similarly to a low-intensity laser or cauterization. After a 1 to 3 week treatment time, the area heals, and the bumps don’t grow back.
Are You At Risk For Having PPP?
PPP appears in 8%–43% of men during their lifetime, usually beginning in late adolescence and fading as one approaches their senior years. For some men, once these appear, they can persist through life. The highest incidence occurs in men in their 20s and 30s.
While these growths might concern you, you’ll be relieved that despite their appearance, PPP is harmless and considered a normal skin variation. Research shows that these bumps appear spontaneously. That means they’re not caused by infection, not transmitted through sex, and not a hyper-reaction to any viral or allergic cause.
All males, regardless of sexual activity, ethnicity, or orientation, can develop PPP. Limited research shows a higher incidence of PPP among African American men and the uncircumcised. You can’t prevent it from growing, but fortunately, it’s not contagious.
Treatment For PPP
Any PPP treatment is cosmetic because the bumps are non-infectious and don’t multiply. However, it can co-exist with genital warts, which are larger, cauliflower-like, and can affect women too. It can also be mistaken for Lichen nitidus papule, growths with flat tops found along the penis shaft.
An inexpensive, practical, convenient, painless, and safe remedy for penile papules is DIY PPP kits. These kits come with a pen or wand that heats the growths. Once the center is heated, this process vaporizes the core. The temperature setting is lower, and the energy used is heat. Still, the principle used is the same as laser and cauterization.
The whole kit is suitable for three to four sessions and costs less than a doctor’s consultation fee. Some men may prefer to treat themselves in the privacy of their homes. They might feel embarrassed when they have PPP, even if it’s normal.
The growths can also be removed at a doctor’s clinic in three to four sessions, with each session costing around USD$1,000. Add-on costs are biopsy when a definitive diagnosis can’t be made, consultation fees, and laboratory fees.
Cryotherapy, laser surgery, and cauterization are three clinic procedures that men can choose. Healing takes slightly longer, and there’s a danger of developing keloids and hypertrophic scars.
Pearly penile papules are benign lesions that can cause many concerns among men who fear they might have cancer or venereal disease. Research on why some men develop this condition remains a mystery, but PPP is considered a normal skin condition.
In a sense, all men are at risk, but it’s not a lethal condition. Fortunately, you can treat them with PPP kits or a healthcare professional. And once they’re gone, they stay gone.