Just as a man may be worried about how an exposed skin rash can make his face or arms look (and about what message such a rash may send to a potential sexual partner), so is he concerned when a penis rash rears its ugly head. Often the penis rash is due to penis health issues, sometimes including the ghastly presence of an STI. But in other cases the rash is simply a dermatological issue, a skin rash that just happens to appear on the penis. That can be the case with pityriasis lichenoides, a skin eruption that is little-known.

About pityriasis lichenoides

As is often the case, the name pityriasis lichenoides makes it sound more formidable and dangerous than it actually is. “Pityriasis” is from a Greek word meaning “bran,” and it refers to skin that is flaky or scaly. “Lichenoides” refers to the physical appearance of the rash.

Typically, this rash first presents as bright red oval spots, sometimes flat, sometimes raised like a bump. They can vary in size from 2 mm to 10 mm in diameter. But the spots change, turning into blisters with fluid inside, and then into crusty ulcers. The spots often appear in clusters as an identifiable rash, but sometimes there can be “loners” which occupy an area of skin fairly far away from other spots.

A trio

There are three forms of pityriasis lichenoides, all of which are rare. One form is considered serious. The forms are listed below, referred to in the acronym form by which they are frequently known.

– PLEVA is the one most likely to cause a penis rash, as it tends to occur on the penis in about 10% of cases (usually while also appearing elsewhere on the body). The penis rash may cause itching or a slight burning situation, but often it has no noticeable effects. Without treatment, the rash can last for 6 weeks to about 18 months, usually coming and going several times during the lengthier time frames. PLEVA sometimes leaves behind scarring or some skin discoloration.

– PLC is somewhat more common than PLEVA, and less likely to occur as a penis rash (though still possible). It is milder than PLEVA, with the spots less noticeable and rarely any subsequent scarring.

– FUMHD is the rarest form and the one which is considered quite serious. The spots tend to appear as red or black ulcers, and there are usually other symptoms, including a high fever, severe stomach pain, diarrhea, pains in the joints, interference with breathing and variations in mental state. A doctor should be seen right away.

Treatment

PLEVA and PLC are self-resolving, but because it can take months, many people prefer to have a doctor help the process along. Antibiotics shorten the length of time the disease is present, and steroids can help to make the rash go away. FUMHD requires hospitalization for treatment.

Although a penis rash can be off-putting, pityriasis lichenoides is not known to be contagious.

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