Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions
I’m a virgin but I have tiny raised white dots on my foreskin...what could these be?
I’m a 16-year-old male, and I haven’t had any sexual contact with anyone yet. But I’ve noticed tiny white, slightly raised dots covering a large part of my foreskin. I looked at pictures online, and I don’t think they’re genital warts. I don’t even know how long I’ve had these symptoms...maybe my whole life. Can you help me understand what these are? They’re affecting my confidence, and I’m worried about starting sexual relations.
Lisa Oldson, MD on September 29, 2011
Thank you for writing. I’m sure it’s a little unnerving to see a rash or other markings on your penis. Allow me to help clear up some of your questions...
Based on your description, and the fact that you haven’t had any sexual contact yet, a benign or harmless condition is the most likely cause of these bumps. That said, only a physician who examines you will be able to make a diagnosis and give you the medical advice and treatment suggestions you need. However, from your description, it’s quite possible that you’re seeing a normal part of your skin’s appearance. Or it’s possible that you have a skin condition like pearly penile papules, cysts, or bumps caused by the virus molluscum contagiosum...
With these possibilities in mind, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about the bumps you’ve noticed. Your doctor will be able to fill you in on exactly what the bumps are, and if they need treatment.
You also mentioned you’re interested in starting sexual relations, so here are some additional thoughts for your consideration...
Reduce your risk for sexually transmitted infections by using condoms (or dental dams if you perform oral sex on a woman) when you’re ready to have sex. And avoid having sex with people whose sexual history and STD status you don’t know.
Remember, a lot of STDs don’t show signs or symptoms, at least not at first...so getting tested is the only sure way to know if you have an infection. Getting tested about once a year for common STDs can be a good rule of thumb. And should you ever test positive for an STD, don’t panic...all STDs are treatable and many are curable.
Also, keep in mind that you can get STDs through all kinds of sexual activity, including vaginal, anal and oral sex and genital rubbing with an infected person. For more information about STD risks, testing and prevention, please read through our Expert Guide to STD Basics.
Thanks again for getting in touch with us, and I wish you the best of health.
Dr. Oldson is Medical Director of the Analyte Physicians Group. She is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Clinical Instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her areas of expertise include STDs (with a particular clinical emphasis on herpes), women's health, preventive medicine, diabetes, obesity and weight management, and mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Oldson was educated at Rush Medical College and completed her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.