The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 10-28-2003, 05:24 AM
kambuckta kambuckta is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 7,685
Sebaceous cysts on the penis...treat or leave alone?

Now, not being a bloke, I was a bit floored when my teenage son whispered to me tonight that there was something seriously wrong with his penis. He was horribly concerned that he had genital warts or herpes, but once he had described them (and given me a very brief and limited viewing of the affected area), I reassured him that they were merely sebaceous cysts and nothing to worry about (apart from the fact that being a virgin makes it pretty difficult to contract herpes and/or genital warts anyway).

However, again, not being a bloke, I am now not sure whether they are something to be treated or left alone. My feeling is that because he is the raging throes of adolescence with his hormones playing general havoc with all parts of his poor body, the cysts are just a normal phenomenon that will subside as he gets older. Most of them seem to be under the skin rather than visible eruptions, and given that the skin on the penis is quite thin, it seems reasonable that little 'bumps' will be evident.

But, what do other Dopers think? Is this normal, or should I get him to a Dr to have them treated? Are there any treatments for cysts anyway? I'm at a bit of a loss here because I've never had a penis to know what is normal and what ain't, and I'd appreciate some information from anyone who can help me out.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 10-28-2003, 06:54 AM
UncleBill UncleBill is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
It may be worth it emotionally for him to see a doctor, guys are weird about their little guys. I can't help you on the physical side.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 10-28-2003, 06:57 AM
pjd pjd is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
i'm not an expert, but the fact that you have a son seems to
suggest that at some time you have "had access" to someone
who has such an appendage ... could you not ask him ?



(btw, fwiw & imho, i think it's quite normal, so just ignore it)
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 10-28-2003, 07:05 AM
Daylon Daylon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
"Cysts" and "Penis" just don't go together in the realm of the male mindset.

Treat them..if not for health's sake, then for a young mans self-confidence....

D.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 10-28-2003, 10:44 AM
lissener lissener is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
get thee to a doctor.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 10-28-2003, 12:24 PM
Otto Otto is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Madison WI
Posts: 22,506
I've had sebaceous cysts on my big head but not my little one.

Tell him that the standard tool used to remove cysts is called a "punch" and see if he still wants it treated. Heh.

Seriously, sebaceous cysts are harmless, but he should see a doctor to be sure that's actually what he has. If so, the doctor can discuss with him treatment options (including the most likely, which is "do nothing"). Mine didn't go away on their own; I had them for a couple of decades and finally decided I was tired of them catching my brush every time I brushed my hair. The problem with removing them is that they tend to take with them a bit of the surrounding tissue which may or may not regenerate. He could end up going from having a penis with bumps to having one with dents.

My non-medical, non-parental advice would be get a proper diagnosis and if it's something benign, leave them alone.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 10-28-2003, 02:22 PM
kambuckta kambuckta is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 7,685
Quote:
Originally posted by pjd
i'm not an expert, but the fact that you have a son seems to
suggest that at some time you have "had access" to someone
who has such an appendage ... could you not ask him ?
Unfortunately the 'ex' is useless, 'cos he's dead.

Which is why I turn to the wise men of these hallowed boards for advice about all things 'blokey'.

Thanks for the info folks. Honestly, he was so relieved last night when I reassured him that he didn't have some dreadful disease that would cause his willy to drop off, that I don't think he is in any great panic now to visit a doctor.

Otto, they're not the big, nasty cysts like the acne variety that you get on your face or back....they're more like tiny bumps (like slightly overgrown goosebumps really) and only a couple of them have an obvious little sebum plug.

But I'll mention it next time he has to go to the Dr, just to be on the safeside anyway.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 10-28-2003, 04:30 PM
Rabid_Squirrel Rabid_Squirrel is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Err... not to get too much into the TMI side of things, but it is possible to squeeze them. Hurts like...um...well.. someone's pinching your genitalia, so it hurts a lot. Just the usual precautions of infections due to squeezing apply.

As long as they don't grow in size they should be fine.
__________________
Distributing ellipsis since 1979.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 10-28-2003, 05:07 PM
bughunter bughunter is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
I get sebaceous cysts all the time, just not on my willy.

If it is a sebaceous cyst then there is some minor concern for infection and abcess. If the problem isn't treated, and the cyst erupts, it ill create an ugly, bloody crater in the skin.

If it's a cyst, it will be a round nodule under the skin, tender and inflammed, and possibly very painful. DO NOT PUNCTURE OR SQUEEZE it. Otherwise it will ooze and weep for weeks and never quite heal.

If it gets inflammed to the point where it is extremely sensitive and painful to touch, then it may erupt on its own. You want to try and avoid this, because it can easily become infected, and it will definitely result in scarring.

I've found that the best thing to do is to clean the affected skin several times a day with rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol and a cotton wad. Do this as soon as you identify a new cyst. You want to dry the skin out as much as possible, to encourage the body to reabsorb the sebum.

Keep the area dry. If possible, bandage with an absorbant material. In your son's case, make sure he has clean cotton underwear available daily, and that he uses it.

Cleanliness is essential if you are prone to these skin conditions. Prevent chafing and bathe several times a day if necessary.

Do not use any oils or lotions that can clog the pores. Avoid applying anything to the area that is not a liquid at room temperature, like creams or petrolatum-based ointments, unless you can wash it off immediately with soap and hot water.

Although Sitz Baths may not be useful for your son's current symptoms, he may get cysts in other locations... like on the buttocks, inner thighs, or perineum. Draw a shallow bath with water as hot as he can possibly stand it, and dissolve two or three cups of epsom salts into the hot water. Soak the affected area in the hot water for 15-20 minutes.

Hot epsom salt baths also work wonders for sore, tired feet.

Do not use very hot baths if you are diabetic or have nerve damage to the affected area. You can scald yourself without knowing it.

Now, if they are clogged pores, then they will have blackheads or obvious plugs. Soak these in very hot soapy water, and encourage him to squeeze the plugs out, and any sebum trapped under the skin. Do this regularly, although the frequency may not need to be daily. Again, dedicated cleanliness will prevent these, especially after athletics, and avoid using any creams or ointments that will clog the pores.

Lord knows I would often apply creams and ointments quite vigorously to those locations when I was an adolescent...

(But spare your son any such accusations... just casually mention to avoid those products and then go on to the next topic.)

Also, it's possible they're ingrown hairs, if he's shaving the area, or the hair is breaking off. For these, you have to go in with sharp tweezers and pull the offending hairs out. It's not fun. See a dermatologist.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 10-28-2003, 05:22 PM
godzillatemple godzillatemple is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
You might find this web site helpful.

Barry
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 10-28-2003, 06:05 PM
Agback Agback is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
G'day

TMI coming up.

One of my sisters had a large sebaceous cyst on her back a few years ago. It got colonised by an anaerobe (which is a standard but not very common danger), and that made her pretty sick for a week or so, and left a nasty scar that you would not want on your willie (or your partner's willie, and very likely not on your son's willie).

A year later I had a large sebaceous cyst in almost exactly the same spot. In my case it was the result of scratching the top off a pimple and scarring over the opening. I took it to a doctor who didn't see any point in surgery until it got bigger and more uncomfortable. I did ask why, if surgery was inevitable, it was not best to do it early, avoid the risk of infection, and end up with the smallest possible scar, but I didn't get a very satisfactory answer. My father said that it is a fairly trivial operation to make a nick in the top of the cyst with a scalpel, drain it, and pull out the lining of the cyst with a hook (if you don't do that it will simply re-fill). I tried to persuade my brother to do that, but before I could talk him around it began to drain spontaneously through the sebaceous duct, which was smelly but neither dangerous nor uncomfortable. With a bit of firm pressure every now and again I kept the cyst more or less empty for a few years, and it shrank to insignificance.

Conclusion: large sebaceous cysts in thick skin present a danger of infection, but are capable of resolving uneventfully. Keep them clean. If you try to express them, make sure the skin is clean and your hands are clean, use a little topical disinfectant, and be careful not to break the skin or produce bruising by vigorous squeezing.

When I was in my acneous teens I occasionally had hard, round lumps form under the skin of my penis. They swelled to about 5-6mm diameter, became tender, then sore, then erupted, producing a spurt of sebaceous material and a weeping sore that healed without scarring. I was pretty worried when I had them, partly because they seemed almost to fit the description of chancres and partly because anything going wrong with the wedding tackle is very alarming to a boy.

So, speaking as someone who learned the hard way: Your son will feel better for having his mother and doctor deal with these things in a calm matter-of-fact way, as something not terribly important but worth dealing with. An assurance that they are not chancres, not tumours, not cysts of flesh-eating bacteria, and not going to leave scars will make him feel miles better. And I would guess that having them lanced or aspirated or whatever gets done will save him a little discomfort.

So send him in to a doctor one afternoon after school.

Regards,


Agback
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 10-28-2003, 06:18 PM
Agback Agback is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Quote:
Originally posted by kambuckta
Otto, they're not the big, nasty cysts like the acne variety that you get on your face or back....they're more like tiny bumps (like slightly overgrown goosebumps really) and only a couple of them have an obvious little sebum plug.
That'll teach me to read the thread a little bit more carefully.

These don't sound terribly important: treat them as you would any other blackheads.

One thing though: I have nephews about that age (16, 16, 14, and 12), and they insist on wearing totally non-absorbent nylon faux-satin boxer shorts, even under board shorts and their karate uniforms. If your son has any of these, burn them and replace them with cotton underpants. If necessary, repeat until he gets sick of wasting his pocket-money.

Regards,


Agback
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 10-28-2003, 10:31 PM
mmmiiikkkeee mmmiiikkkeee is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
OK, in the name of easing a young kid's mind I'll confess - I've had these for at least a decade on that wonderful organ (never looked that close as a little kid so I don't know for sure how long they've been with me). In my case: Absolutely harmless and only even noticable when you try to see them. To me they're just part of the skin texture/pattern like freckles.

About the diameter of a pinhead, raised less than 1/4mm and only when that skin is stretched out, no pain or any other feelings from them... and we're talking probably a few hundred altogether. Sorta like goosebumps: you can feel them if you're gentel but they seem to disappear as far as touch goes unless you know what to feel for.

Popping them is pretty much impossible; they're so tiney and it very rarely works anyways. The pain involved (from pinching that very sensitive thin skin) is severe, and the 2-3 I've popped (out of 30-40 I've tried) looked exactly the same afterwords except for the red pinch marks. I lost track of them and they were probably back to their old selves a few days later anyways.

Another reason to forget them - nobody will even notice. My own doc either never noticed them or knew they were irrelevant. And, well, no female has ever noticed either... even upon very close examination with more than just eyes .

From my perspective you should worry more about freckles. This is of course assuming nothing new and/or obviously wrong happens with them. Don't mean to sound too oblivious, but I thought an opinion from someone who's lived with the reality of having exactly what you're referring to (as oposed to a related condition) for a long time might balance out some of the more scary responses posted so far. Just wanted to point out that these are not the gigantic nasty red pussy pimples many have had on different body parts - trust me I've had both and they are entirely different.

I don't do/wear/eat anything at all special because of them. Never even think about them except once in a blue moon when I see a thread like this one .
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:27 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.