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Overview

Lesions and masses on the head of the penis (glans) can be frightening experiences, especially when the affected person develops these issues for the first time.

These can vary from mild, self-limiting problems that resolve by themselves without causing any complications to potentially problematic issues that need further management.

These possible causes and how they are managed will be discussed further.

Air bubbles

Increased pressure build up around the head of the penis can cause the superficial membrane of the anatomy to detach from the underlying tissue giving the impression that an air bubble has developed.

This can occur in situations where individuals use vacuum pumps to help enlarge the penis in order to achieve bigger erections for sexual intercourse. Sometimes men using these devices may be a bit overzealous and decide to continue pumping the product in order to get to an even bigger erection from the one they initially wanted. Since the pump devices basically pull blood into the penis from the body to cause the enlargement of the anatomy, increased tension is applied to the head of the penis resulting in the problem.

Once the penis becomes flaccid though, the air bubble also reduces and disappears. Usually, the development of this problem causes the individual to be more careful in not subjecting their penis to such high pressures again

Blister formation

Excessive manipulation of the penis, such as from fervent masturbation, may result in blisters forming on the head of the penis as a result of friction to the surface of the anatomy. One can think of the same process occurring in those who run long distances developing blisters on their toes or feet.

This can be managed by reducing the activity that resulted in the mass and the issue will eventually resolve on its own. If the blister bursts, then applying a topical antimicrobial agent will help prevent the development of a secondary bacterial infection due to the open wound.

Blisters may also form as a result of a sexually transmitted viral infection such as herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2), also known as genital herpes. This condition will be managed by using antiviral medications to treat the infection if the blister(s) are still intact. 

Rashes

Some situations may result in a rash developing over the head of the penis which may give the impression of multiple lesions or bubbles appearing on the tissue. 

Conditions such as the mentioned friction rubs, bacterial and fungal infections, as well as allergies can cause these lesions, the management of which will depend on the cause of the rash.

In terms of irritations or allergies, steroid preparations can be used to reduce the inflammation. Infections will be managed with the appropriate antibacterial or antifungal creams or ointments depending on the causative organism.

Pearly penile papules

A condition that worries a lot of men is the development of milky white tags, lesions, or bubbles on the ring around the head of the penis. These are absolutely normal skin tags that develop in most men and are not indicative of any cancerous or pre-cancerous lesion or any other medical condition.

These papules are mostly left alone but some men do prefer them to be removed if they are very large or cause any other symptoms, which rarely happens.

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