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Infectious Diseases

Sore on penile shaft




I discovered a small red sore (about half an inch across) on the shaft of my penis about one week ago, near the top of the foreskin. It was quite painful, and appeared to have to small, white, pinhead-sized spots on it. Upon squeezing them, the skin broke and a little blood came out. The pain went away but came back again yesterday. The condition hasn't improved since. There is no discharge and it doesn't hurt when I urinate.

Do you have any idea what this sore could be, and how I should treat it?

I swim every day - is that preventing the healing process?

I'm 33 years old and this is the first time I've ever had such a problem.

I am in a long-term relationship, and my girlfriend and I always use condoms for penetrative sex (but not for oral sex).

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely


You really need to see a physican to best diagnose what your sore is, and I encourage you to do this.

Penile sores/ulcers can be due to variety of things including trauma, irritation, inflammation, syphilis, herpes, and other genital ulcerative diseases (lymphogranuloma venerium, chancroid). Oral herpes can also be transmitted to genital areas through unprotected oral sex. The chlorine in swimming pool water might irritate an open lesion, but is unlikely to have caused it.

A painful lesion tends to make me think more of herpes, trauma or other inflammation, but there is no substitute for an in-person examination along with indicated tests.

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Response by:

Kenneth   Skahan, MD Kenneth Skahan, MD
Assistant Professor in Infectious Diseases
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati