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What is Sebaceous Prominence?

By Angela Crout-Mitchell
Updated Feb 06, 2024
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The term sebaceous prominence refers to a skin condition affecting only men and is characterized by small, white bumps located on the shaft or base of the penis. This condition is also referred to as penis pimples, as the white bumps only manifest on the skin of the penis. Sebaceous prominence is not dangerous, painful, or contagious, although it is often mistaken for a sexually transmitted disease. Many men with this disorder suffer from social embarrassment, leading them to avoid intimate contact or attempt to hide the condition. Symptoms sometimes disappear on their own, though there is always the possibility the blemishes will reappear at some point in the future.

Almost every area of the body has sebaceous glands located in the skin. These glands are responsible for secreting sebum, a naturally occurring oil, used to lubricate and moisturize the skin. For most men, the sebaceous glands located on the penis perform their function correctly and no skin problems ever manifest. In the event the sebaceous glands over produce sebum, the result is clogged pores that appear as small, white, hard lumps visible on the base and, in some cases, the shaft of the penis. Fortunately, the blemishes are not painful and do not affect the health of the penis or testicles in any negative way.

Sebaceous prominence is similar to other types of acne and is caused by clogged pores of the skin around the base of penis. The pimples or blemishes may appear singularly or in groups varying in number, and can develop either in rows or sporadically. The biggest concern related to sebaceous prominence is social embarrassment as well as overcoming the stigma associated with sexually transmitted disease, even though these blemishes are not contagious and can not be contracted through sexual contact. Most medical experts recommend men with this condition explain the situation to new partners to eliminate misconceptions.

There are no known treatments for sebaceous prominence, and men affected are advised to learn to cope with the skin condition. Some patients prick or pop the blemishes to remove the sebum secretion from the skin. The white pus or excess sebum can be removed this way but this technique rarely works on men with multiple pimples, is painful and uncomfortable, and may introduce bacteria or infection to a very sensitive area of the anatomy. If the patient insists on seeking treatment, it is best to consult a dermatologist for professional medical advice.

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Discussion Comments
By SeanH — On Nov 25, 2015

Most guys have these on their genitals. In fact, so do a lot of women, so they are nothing to worry about. However, I used to struggle with dry skin down there, but ever since I started using a penis health creme, my skin has stayed moisturized and smooth. Keep these cremes in mind fellas.

By anon992011 — On Aug 06, 2015

I have them, I thought all guys had it too. Girls never complained about it.

By anon948101 — On Apr 28, 2014

I'm 47 and have had these since puberty. Funny thing is, none of my sexual partners (both of them: my wife and former girlfriend only) have ever commented on them in any way. Strange that there is apparently no treatment for it, though.

It has nothing to do with cleanliness: I shower nightly and pay special attention to "Mr. Happy", but they never go away. Even acne medicine didn't have any effect except to super dry out the skin down there.

Don't worry about it fellas! Just give this web address to your partner to set their mind at ease.

By anon346883 — On Sep 01, 2013

I've got them and have never worried guys. I have them all over the place on my scrotum. My girlfriend says her previous partners have had them. I thought they were normal, to be honest, and no one has ever mentioned them!

By Agni3 — On Aug 09, 2011

I’m surprised this is specifically a condition only found on men.

I, myself, have tons of little bumps and lumps all over the place – yes, including there from time to time. I would have thought that the conditions would have been the same.

I wonder what the technical name is for the occurrence of bumps on a female’s genitals from the same clogging of the sebaceous glands.

I don’t mean some scary sexually transmitted disease that is an obvious aversion to behold.

I’m speaking of your every day generic clogged pore. In other words, a pimple – just in a very private area of the female anatomy.

By JessiC — On Aug 08, 2011

Well, these pimples are really not all that bad. They sound sort of gross here, but my husband has been affected with them on and off for years.

I’ve never found them to be particularly bothersome, as they are quite small and contained. It’s not as if they are huge, gaping puss pockets just waiting to burst all over some unsuspecting female.

Of course, I suppose there could be those kinds out there among the male population. And, if there is, I surely feel badly for the poor soul cursed with them.

However, for those who seem to have a case akin to what I’m describing above; don’t worry. We don’t care and it’s not wholly unattractive, as you might feel it is.

It’s just another blemish of the body. I myself have many blemishes of my own, and know of no one who doesn’t.

Actually, I never even noticed the tiny, little things until he pointed them out.

By bluespirit — On Aug 08, 2011

I had no idea that these type of "pimples" occur. I ran across this article looking for an answer to my prominent pimples on my face, and just thought it is bad enough to have pimples on my face still as an adult, so I can only imagine if one was to have these sebaceous prominence pimples occurring through adulthood.

Very good to know about, can add this topic to any future birds and bees conversations I have with a teenage son.

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