Psoriasis of the Penis

A common but less often discussed problem is psoriasis of the penis

Psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body.
Psoriasis can appear anywhere on the body. DaveBolton/Getty Images

A common but less often discussed problem is psoriasis of the penis. One area of the body often affected by psoriasis is the end of the penis, known as the glans penis.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that changes the life cycle of skin cells. Psoriasis causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. The extra skin cells form thick, silvery scales and itchy, dry, red patches that are sometimes painful.

Psoriasis is a persistent, long-lasting (chronic) disease. There may be times when your psoriasis symptoms get better alternating with times your psoriasis worsens.

Symptoms of Psoriasis

Psoriasis signs and symptoms can vary from person to person but may include one or more of the following:

  • Red patches of skin covered with silvery scales
  • Small scaling spots (commonly seen in children)
  • Dry, cracked skin that may bleed
  • Itching, burning or soreness
  • Thickened, pitted or ridged nails
  • Swollen and stiff joints

Psoriasis patches can range from a few spots of dandruff-like scaling to major eruptions that cover large areas.

Most types of psoriasis go through cycles, flaring for a few weeks or months, then subsiding for a time or even going into complete remission.

Psoriasis of the Penis

Flare-ups of psoriasis of the penis are common due to Koebnerization from sexual intercourse. Use of a condom can help protect the skin of the area from psoriasis-inducing trauma.

Psoriasis of the penis is not a venereal disease and can not be sexually transmitted.

Psoriasis of the penis can interfere with sexual enjoyment as a result of the appearance as well as the irritation caused by the condition. Treatment of psoriasis in this area is somewhat complicated by the fact that strong topical steroids cause atrophy or thinning of the skin, a serious side effect which can cause future problems with painful intercourse.

Treatment of Psoriasis of the Penis

Fortunately, this area of the body is very responsive to treatment with milder steroids such as 1% OTC hydrocortisone and prescription hydrocortisone with iodoquinol creams. Also useful in this area are Protopic and Elidel. Stronger steroids may be used sparingly for very short periods of time under close supervision by your dermatologist.

When the entire genital area is covered with psoriasis, the condition falls into the severe category and under these circumstances, systemic treatment with a pill such as methotrexate or Soriatane or even a biologic drug may be indicated.


Mayo Clinic. Psoriasis.

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