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I have a rash-like wound on the top part of my penis...what could it be?
I am 30-years-old and I have been suffering for the last three months from a painful wound on my penis. It looks like a skin rash right below the top part of the penis. If I am not sexually active, the pain and the wound disappear. But when I’m back to any sexual activity, there it comes is again: burning, very slightly bleeding and eventually getting swollen. I have tried an hydrocortisone cream before but is just made it worse. Do you think is a kind of fungus? What can I do about it?
Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD on August 16, 2011
Thanks for asking this question. It sounds like you’re worried about your sexual health and this forum is a good place to start...although you’ll need to see your regular doctor for a definite diagnosis of your discomfort.
First, talk to your doctor about the hydrocortisone cream. From what you said, the cream doesn’t seem to be helping, and some side-effects of hydrocortisone creams can include a number of your symptoms. Your doctor can help you find the right treatment...but it’s a good idea to stop treating yourself before consulting your doctor.
Tinea cruris the fungus that causes “jock itch” can cause an itching rash around the groin. It’s actually the same type of fungus that causes athlete’s foot. You can catch Tinea from other people, or even from cats and dogs. You can also pick it up from objects like a shower stall or the locker room floor, and it’s possible to transfer the fungus from one part of your body (your feet) to another (your groin).
Tinea of the groin usually originates in the crease between the leg and the trunk after extreme sweating and will spread across the thighs to the buttocks. Tinea can be treated with anti-fungal creams. If your doctor tells you that you have tinea, follow your doctors instructions for treatment and remember that it’s a good idea to treat your athlete’s foot at the same time (if you have it).
Yeast infection is another fungal infection that can cause a skin rash around the penis. Just like women, men can get genital yeast infections. And men, like women, are at increased risk for yeast infection with prolonged antibiotic use, especially if they have a compromised immune system or if they have diabetes. Yeast infections in men can be treated similarly to yeast infections in women, with an over-the-counter anti-fungal cream...but again you'll want to have the rash checked by a doctor to get the right diagnosis and treatment.
Your symptoms could also indicate an STD. STDs like herpes, HPV, syphilis, chancroid or scabies can all cause a rash in the genital area. I encourage you to get tested for some of these common STDs...getting tested is the only way to know if you have an STD. And knowing your STD status is the first step toward effective treatment, if necessary. To learn more about STD symptoms, testing and treatment, check out our Expert Guide to STD Basics.
In future, you can help avoid potential STDs by practicing safer sex. If you do have an STD, you don’t want to spread it. Not to mention, open sores like the one you described can make you more likely to contract other STDs and increase your risk for HIV infection. Be sure to use a condom each and every time you have sex...and you may also find that using a lubricant during intercourse helps you avoid the tissue trauma you’re experiencing.
These are just a few possible causes of your skin rash symptoms. But, again, make sure to meet with your doctor to determine the cause of the rash and the most appropriate treatment for the pain and wound that you’re experiencing.
Thanks again for starting here and good luck.
Dr. Cunningham is a member of the Analyte Physicans Group. She's also a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, practicing at both Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois and at Wheaton Franciscan All Saints Medical Center in Wisconsin. An ER physician since 2000, she regularly treats patients with STDs. Dr. Cunningham was educated at Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL.