Penile Discoloration: Why Your Penis Has Changed Color

Do you want to know the reason behind your penile discoloration? 

When aroused, the skin of the penis can appear reddish or purple to a certain extent. 

This is due to the spike in blood flow to the glands and blood vessels. 

However, if the skin of the penis turns a different color, it could also indicate a potentially dangerous health condition. 

Take a look at the intricate details of penile discoloration. 

What Is Penile Discoloration?

When the penis changes color, it could be a harmless skin condition or a serious issue, like cancer. That’s why the smart thing to do is talk to a doctor. 

Getting treatment and a proper diagnosis will set you on the right track. The discoloration could signify anything from a simple bruise to contact dermatitis and penile melanosis. The list of causes below can help shed some light on this pressing problem. 

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Any drastic changes in how the penis looks, like a change in color, patch, or cancer growth formation can be a red flag. But, how the body changes will vary depending on what’s causing the issue. 

Some ailments are more alarming than others, while some can be permanent, but harmless. 

Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)

Men between the ages of 20 and 29 have the biggest rates of secondary and primary syphilis. Back in 2016, there were 88,042 newly reported cases of syphilis

Both syphilis and genital herpes can trigger purple sores on the penis. They are also accompanied by pain, itchiness, burning, exhaustion, and fever. 

Plus, out of 8 infections, 4 are curable. These are trichomoniasis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. HPV, HIV, and hepatitis B are currently classified as an incurable infection. When dealing with an incurable viral infection, it is best to use adequate infection treatment. 

Genital warts can be removed and treated. But, the infection/virus that causes them can’t be taken care of. Practice safe sex to curb the odds of transmission.

Note: Penile yeast infection could lead to shiny, white patches on the penis. The affected genital tissue could also appear red. 


People are allergic to many different things. Those who can’t handle certain medicines can develop an allergic reaction, often referred to as Stevens-Johnson syndrome. A patient with this problem can experience a red/purple rash on their penis. The rash could also affect other regions. 

With time, the rash can turn into sores or peeling skin. Without adequate treatment, skin complications can become a serious problem. Luckily, this is a rare reaction. The mortality rates are anywhere from 1% to 5%. 


Also known as blood spots, this kind of penis discoloration can emerge as red/purple blemishes. An injury does not cause them. Instead, it is a symptom of an underlying ailment. 

It could be due to blood vessel inflammation, nutritional deficit, blood clot, or an adverse reaction to the medicine you are taking. Lichen planus can also lead to white/purple patches on the penis that are shaped like a ring. 


You can injure the penis from doing just about anything. You could be playing football, hiking, or doing any random physical activity. 

When you hurt the penis too much, a bruise can develop. Rough sex, masturbation, penile fracture, and a little zipper mishap can break the surface of the skin. 

The bruise becomes soft to touch with a high-impact injury and then turns slightly purple. This is a normal part of the healing process. If you are not careful, you can also hurt the foreskin from penile traction therapy. With serious trauma to the penis, medical attention is necessary. 

The redness is supposed to subside in a couple of weeks. But, if you are dealing with phimosis and are worried it might affect the color of your foreskin, talk to a specialist. They can help overcome any skin problem you might be having. 

Contact Dermatitis

The moment the penis skin comes in contact with an irritant, you can experience a reaction. The reaction can turn into inflammation and appear itchy or red. 

If you use detergents, soaps, or a latex condom that the skin reacts to, then you can experience penile discoloration. When a serious reaction happens, it could prompt serum release and break in the skin. 

Penile Melanosis

Often harmless, penile melanosis is known to trigger tiny darkish patches on the head or shaft of the penis. This is also known as macular hyperpigmentation. 

Penile melanosis is not a disease you get from having sex. Nor is it contagious. Instead, it can be caused by old age, genes, previous penis injury, and some skin treatments.

Lichen Sclerosus

Lichen Sclerosus (also known as Balanitis xerotica obliterans) is uncommon. It is a chronic inflammatory ailment that affects roughly 1 in 300 people of the general population. This autoimmune condition causes hypopigmentation (patches lighter than the skin tone of the penis) and skin atrophy. 


Some people born with vitiligo also develop whitish spots on the skin of their penis. Some areas are mildly affected. Others change their color completely. The impact of the color of the skin will vary from person to person. 

Based on reports, roughly 15% to 25% of people with vitiligo also have at least one more autoimmune disorder like psoriasis, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Some people with genital psoriasis and penile vitiligo also report having erectile dysfunction

Penile Cancer

Penile cancer often starts as a small lesion, mainly in the prepuce or glans. This ailment accounts for 10-20% of all malignancies in men. 

Penile cancer can affect the shaft of the penis and change its color. The penis could develop a flat brown patch or a reddish color. 

The penis can feel sore, while the skin can thicken. The affected patient may need surgery or radiation to thwart the issue. 

Of course, not all swollen lymph nodes are a sign of cancer. If you are worried about cancer, talk to a doctor. They can suggest the best form of treatment. 

When to See a Doctor?

If the change in color is caused by anything else rather than a mild bruise, book an appointment with a urologist. It’s crucial to rule out the possibility of cancer and foreskin issues. 

A normal tissue of the penis doesn’t have any discomfort. You may have some dry skin from time to time, like dead skin cells. But, any abnormalities, whether they are penile tumors, eczema, balanitis, or skin cancer, are something you should consult with a specialist. 


The color change of your penis could be nothing or a sign of a serious ailment, like cancer. If the change in color is triggered by anything else other than a mild bruise, see a doctor. The penis might have developed a condition that needs treatment.

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  1. Tudor ME, Al Aboud AM, Gossman W. Syphilis. [Updated 2021 Oct 18]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from:
  2. Yang MS, Lee JY, Kim J, et al. Incidence of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis: A Nationwide Population-Based Study Using National Health Insurance Database in Korea. PLoS One. 2016.
  3. Revuz J, Clerici T. Penile melanosis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1989.
  4. Chamli A, Souissi A. Lichen Sclerosus. [Updated 2021 Aug 9]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021.
  5. Engelsgjerd JS, LaGrange CA. Penile Cancer. [Updated 2021 Jul 25]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021.

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