Eczema on the penis is a common skin condition that causes discoloration, dry skin and itchiness on the skin of your penis. It isn’t contagious, but you have a higher risk of developing it if you have a family history of eczema, hay fever, asthma or allergies.
Penis eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a condition that causes the skin on your penis to become dry, discolored, itchy and bumpy. It may appear anywhere on your penis, including the head (glans), shaft or foreskin.
Eczema damages the skin barrier function (the “glue” of your skin). As a result, your skin becomes more sensitive and more prone to infection and dryness.
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Any part of your skin can develop eczema, including your genitals.
Penis eczema can affect anyone with a penis. However, it’s more common in people with:
Eczema is very common. Approximately 15% to 30% of children have eczema, and 2% to 10% of adults have it. But eczema on your penis is very uncommon. More common causes of penile dermatitis include contact dermatitis and psoriasis.
Eczema can affect your skin anywhere, so you may see a similar dermatitis somewhere else. Your skin will itch and likely change color, develop bumps, dry out or get thick.
In severe cases of eczema on your penis, your skin may crack or leak a thick, yellow or white fluid. This may be a sign of infection, so see your provider if you see discharge.
Symptoms of eczema on your penis include:
Eczema doesn’t hurt. However, if you scratch eczema on your penis, you may break your skin, leading to discomfort or possibly a painful infection.
Eczema can develop anywhere on your skin, including your penis. A combination of immune system activation, genetics, environmental triggers and stress can cause it.
Eczema isn’t contagious. You can’t spread eczema on your penis to another person through skin-to-skin contact, so you don’t need to take extra steps to protect your partner during sex. However, you may feel discomfort during sex if you’re experiencing a flare-up.
If you scratch eczema on your penis, you may break your skin, which can lead to infections. Infections in or on your penis can spread to your partner through skin-to-skin contact during unprotected sex. If you have a penis infection, contact your healthcare provider for care. Either avoid having sex or use condoms until you’ve completed your full treatment.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine your skin. They’ll look for common signs of eczema, including discoloration and dryness. They’ll also ask about your medical and family medical history.
Your healthcare provider can typically diagnose eczema on your penis after a physical exam. If there’s a concern that the rash could be something contagious or more serious, they may perform the following tests:
To get rid of eczema on your penis, it’s important to determine what’s causing it. Try to determine what triggers or worsens your eczema, and then avoid it. The goal is to reduce itching and discomfort and prevent infection and additional flare-ups.
The following home remedies may relieve eczema on your penis:
If these treatments don’t help or the rash is getting worse, contact your provider.
The connection between eczema on your penis and food/drink allergies is unclear. If you have food allergies, you should follow your provider’s suggestions for avoiding foods to be sure you don’t have a serious allergic reaction. Examples of common food allergens include peanuts, dairy, eggs and gluten.
If eczema flares up on your penis after you interact with a particular food, then you might be allergic to it. This may happen after eating the food or if you touch the food and then touch your penis.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe or advise you to take medications or treatments to treat eczema on your penis. These may include:
With proper treatment, eczema on your penis should go away after a few days to weeks. However, no treatment can claim to eliminate the symptoms of eczema 100% of the time. You may encounter flare-ups on your penis for the rest of your life. If you determine the cause of your eczema, you may be able to prevent flare-ups from happening.
There are steps you can take that may prevent eczema or other dermatitis flares:
If you have eczema on your penis, it can generally be well-managed with good skin care and effective treatment of flares. However, it may come back throughout your life.
Eczema is a chronic condition, which means there isn’t a cure. However, treatments are very effective in reducing the symptoms of dry, itchy skin.
There will be times when eczema on your penis disappears. These times are “remission” periods. The goal of a good skin care routine is to keep your skin healthy and avoid flare-ups. Be sure to avoid anything that triggers eczema on your penis, moisturize, take any recommended medicines and follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations.
Eczema on your penis shares some symptoms with sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so it’s important to see your healthcare provider as soon as you notice symptoms. Don’t have sex with anyone unless you wear a condom until you’re sure you’re not contagious.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Eczema on your penis is uncommon, but it can be embarrassing and annoying. If you experience dry skin, a rash or itching on your penis, talk to your healthcare provider. Creams, ointments and medications can treat eczema on your penis. With a proper skin care routine and treatment, you can reduce the frequency of flare-ups. Eczema on your penis can’t spread to a partner through skin-to-skin contact, but you might want to avoid having sex or use a condom to prevent discomfort.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/19/2022.
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