What Might Cause Bumps on the Genitals?

What Might Cause Bumps on the Genitals?

Bumps on the genitals can be a source of concern and discomfort for individuals, prompting questions about their causes and potential implications. It is important to recognize that various factors can contribute to the development of genital bumps, and understanding these causes is essential for proper diagnosis and effective management.

Common Causes:

  1. Sexually Transmitted Infections: Genital bumps are often associated with sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Common STIs that may cause bumps include herpes simplex virus (HSV), human papillomavirus (HPV), and syphilis. These infections can lead to the formation of painful sores, warts, or ulcers on the genital area.
  2. Folliculitis: Folliculitis is the inflammation of hair follicles, commonly caused by bacterial or fungal infections. When it occurs in the genital region, it can result in red, itchy bumps resembling acne. Poor hygiene, tight clothing, excessive and prolonged sweat exposure, or shaving can contribute to folliculitis.
  3. Molluscum Contagiosum: This viral skin infection causes small, flesh-colored bumps with a central dimple. Molluscum contagiosum is highly contagious and can be transmitted through sexual contact or skin-to-skin contact.
  4. Allergic Reactions: Contact dermatitis, resulting from an allergic reaction to certain substances like latex, spermicides, or personal care products, can lead to genital bumps. The reaction may manifest as redness, swelling, and small bumps.
  5. Cysts and Sebaceous Glands: Cysts or blocked sebaceous glands (i.e., glands in the hair follicles that secrete sebum, an oily substance for hydrating the skin) can cause painless bumps in the genital area. These cysts and blocked glands may result in small, white or yellowish bumps.
  6. Genital Warts: Caused by certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), genital warts can appear as raised or flat growths on the genital and anal areas. They are highly contagious and require medical attention.
  7. Cancer: While less common, malignant conditions, such as certain types of skin or genital cancers can manifest as unusual growths on the genitals. Symptoms may include changes in the color, size, or texture of the bumps, along with other concerning features. This is why it is essential for individuals to be aware of any new, persistent, or changing bumps on the genitals and to have them promptly evaluated by a healthcare professional. Early detection and intervention significantly improve outcomes in cases of genital cancers.

Seeking Professional Guidance:

While this article provides an overview of potential causes, it is very important for individuals experiencing genital bumps to consult with healthcare professionals for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Only a healthcare professional can conduct a thorough examination, order necessary tests, and provide personalized advice based on the specific situation.

Bumps on the genitals can be attributed to a variety of factors, ranging from sexually transmitted infections to benign skin conditions. Understanding the potential causes is a good first step for individuals experiencing genital bumps, but it is crucial for patients to seek timely medical attention and receive appropriate care.

For more information on this topic, please read these publications from Sexual Medicine Reviews:

Male Genital Dermatology: A Primer for the Sexual Medicine Physician

Update on the Medical and Surgical Management of Urethral Condyloma


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). https://www.cdc.gov/std/

Mayo Clinic. (2021). Folliculitis. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/folliculitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20361634

American Academy of Dermatology. (n.d.). Molluscum contagiosum. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/molluscum-contagiosum

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. (2021). Contact dermatitis. https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/allergy-library/contact-dermatitis

Cleveland Clinic. (2021). Vaginal cysts and cysts on the vulva. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14985-vaginal-cysts

World Health Organization. (2021). Human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer. https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/human-papillomavirus-(hpv)-and-cervical-cancer

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