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What is Penile Melanosis? Know the Causes, Cure, and When to Seek Help

Penile Melanosis is a rare condition characterized by a dark brown discoloration of the skin around the shaft and head of the penis. These brown or dark lichen color spots are usually isolated and significant.

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What is Penile Melanosis? Know the Causes, Cure, and When to Seek Help

What is Penile Melanosis

It is a rare condition characterized by a dark brown discolouration of the skin around the shaft and head of the penis. These brown or dark lichen colour spots are usually isolated and significant. Patches of dark skin appear in most cases that do not cover the whole penis.

But what does this happen? Melanin is a natural skin pigment determining your eyes, skin, and hair colour. The higher the melanin content, the darker the skin. Melanosis occurs when this pigment accumulates, resulting in hyperpigmentation. Therefore, Penile Melanosis is a case of hyperpigmentation of the penis.

Also read: What is Balanitis or penis inflammation? Causes, treatments, and more

  • Penile melanosis is harmless, non-infectious, and one can treat it successfully. Do not worry about this condition being contagious as it cannot spread to others.
  • Penis discolouration usually does not require treatment, but some men may opt for cosmetic surgery to treat it if they do not like their penis’ appearance.
  • While the condition can affect anyone, one can predominantly see it among boys and men between the ages of 15 - 72.
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What Are the Symptoms of Penile Melanosis?

There are no health symptoms of this condition unless you have dark brown spots on your penis. Penile melanosis includes hyperpigmented areas on the penis that are black or brown. Remember, these are smaller than a centimetre and are painless. Refer to Image 1 below.

However, some studies have associated penile melanosis with lichen sclerosus, which causes white patches on the penis foreskin or head. This condition occurs due to hormonal changes, and topical applications might help to treat it. Refer to image 2 below.

Glans Discoloration Pictures for Penile Melanosis and Lichen Sclerosus

Image 1: Penile melanosis

What is Penile Melanosis? Know the causes, cure and when to seek help

Source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Image 2: Lichen sclerosus

What is Penile Melanosi? Know the causes, cure and when to seek help

Source: aafp.org

Causes of Dark Spots on Penis

Cancer of the penis

Although rare, it can cause discolouration of the penis. Darkening of glans is a common indication of penile cancer. There may also be flat brown or reddish spots on the penis, and the penis may feel sore.

Injury to the penis

A bruise occurs after a rupture in blood vessels below the skin, causing the penis to appear darker than the body. Vigorous masturbation or sex, zipper accident, or pinching of the penis can injure its skin. An injury causing blood clots may give you a purple penis. Sometimes due to heavy blood flow or excessive sexual arousal, the uncircumcised head’s colour may appear purple.

Causes of White Patches on the Penis


It is a condition where your skin is incapable of producing melanin pigment. While vitiligo is visible mainly on the knees and elbows, it can affect any part of your body, including the penis. It may appear as small or large white patches on glans.


Syphilis is a sexually transmitted condition that can cause a white or red ulcer on the penis. Other symptoms of Syphilis include fever, headaches, and frequent fatigue.

Risk Factors and Causes of Penile Melanosis

The exact cause of penile melanosis is not yet fully understood. It is the accumulation of excess pigment cells in the skin that also affect other body parts. However, research suggests that the following factors can increase your risk of developing penile melanosis:

  • Skin treatment with certain drugs such as PUVA therapy
  • A history of penile injury or foreskin tears and injuries
  • Genetic causes
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Penile Melanosis Treatment

As discussed before, penile melanosis is a harmless condition and does not require any treatment. However, the glans colour change may scare you. It is better to get it examined by your doctor as early as possible to rule out any chances of cancer or severe infection.

Surgical Removal

One can surgically remove spots if their appearance bothers you. This involves doing away with excess pigment from the skin, followed by grafting new skin to the area.

Laser Therapy

  • It is also possible to remove patches on the penis using laser therapy. Research medically recognizes this as the Q-switched ruby laser therapy. It is commonly used for penile melanosis treatment and other pigment-related skin conditions.
  • This therapy involves synthetic ruby, emitting short and concentrated laser pulses to the affected area. You may need several sessions for your skin to return to its natural colour.

Numerous studies have found that these procedures are safe and do not alter the functioning of your penis. However, they may leave a tiny scar.

Also read: What is a curved or bent penis? Best sex positions for a curved penis

How to Get Rid of Dark Spots on the Foreskin?

If you have dark spots due to melanosis, it is safe to ignore them. But if you still feel they are bothering you, removing your foreskin or circumcision is advisable. Many a time, men may experience tight foreskin around their penis as well. If unattended, this could lead to a foreskin tear, causing immense discomfort.


Penile melanosis does not cause any physical complications. However, it may cause stress and anxiety, especially when it comes to sexual intercourse. Remember that there are different types of penis’ - each with its personality.

When to Seek Help

  • Any discolouration can be disturbing, especially when accompanied by unusual growth. It is best to consult a doctor in such cases. Early diagnosis and treatment of any condition reduce the risk of health complications.
  • You can consult a general practitioner or a urologist to confirm this diagnosis. They will enquire about the problem, associated symptoms and run a physical check to find the underlying cause of penis discolouration.
  • Depending on your case of penile melanosis, they may also advise tests such as a standard blood count. It will help your doctor rule out other conditions causing penis discolouration, such as penile infection and cancer. Another common penile infection among men is a penile yeast infection.