What to Know About Eczema on The Penis

Medically Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on May 04, 2023
3 min read

Eczema is a chronic skin condition that affects millions of people. The severity of your symptoms may vary from what other people experience. Eczema on your penis may not always be present, but flare-ups in this area are possible, as they are on other body parts. Learn how you can identify and treat eczema on the penis.

Eczema is not a single skin condition. It comprises a group of skin conditions that cause your skin to appear inflamed or have a rash-like appearance.  More than 31 million Americans suffer from one of the seven different types of eczema:

  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Stasis dermatitis
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Nummular eczema
  • Seborrheic dermatitis‌
  • Dyshidrotic eczema

Most eczema diagnoses occur in children younger than five years old. With no known cure, it is a lifelong skin condition. Those who are diagnosed may not be bothered by it every day, and will instead experience flare-up periods. Most often, the condition flares up when the skin is introduced to an irritant. If a flare-up goes untreated, it can turn into an eczema infection. 

Eczema on the penis. Eczema is more common in uncircumcised males. It is likely to flare up on the head of the penis, also called the glans. It is important to know that eczema on the penis is often similar to other skin conditions like: 

  • Jock itch – ringworm on the skin around the groin causing redness and itching
  • Scabies – tiny mites that burrow into the outer layers of the skin, causing irritation and redness
  • Pubic lice – similar to head lice, but they appear in pubic hair and cause skin irritation
  • Yeast infection – often the result of skin staying moist too long
  • Inverse psoriasis – causes bright red patches and is itchy
  • Penile psoriasis – flares up in pale red, scaling patches but does not itch or burn‌
  • Sexually transmitted diseases – may appear as sores, blisters, or ulcers on the groin or penis 

Talk to your doctor immediately to determine if your skin condition is eczema of the penis or something else. Regardless of the condition, do not have sexual contact with someone if you have a rash, growth, or infection on or around your genitals. While eczema of the penis is not contagious, sexually transmitted diseases are. Until you know what skin condition is causing your symptoms, it’s better to be safe.

A penile eczema infection is similar in appearance to eczema that appears on the rest of your skin. If you have a flare up, pay attention to your eczema patches and watch for signs of infection:

  • Crusts that appear on top of eczema and have yellow, orange, or honey-colored crusts 
  • Blisters filled with pus on top of your eczema flare-ups
  • Open sores that look similar to cold sores and fever blisters
  • Bumps on your skin that are red, swollen, and painful to touch
  • Red streaks on your skin that appear to be spreading

These symptoms are often accompanied by:

  • Fever
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Pain‌
  • Swollen lymph nodes

If you have a combination of these symptoms, seek immediate medical care. Call your doctor or go to your local emergency room. Though you may be tempted to cover the open sores, this can actually worsen eczema. Instead, allow exposure to fresh air for the affected areas so it can heal and dry out.

Penile eczema diagnosis and treatment. Since there are many possibilities for skin conditions on and around your penis, your doctor may not be able to diagnose eczema visually. They will take a sample of the affected skin for testing.

Your doctor may prescribe a cream to calm your skin and give it the opportunity to heal. They may also prescribe oral medication if your flare-up shows signs of infection. While eczema cannot be completely cured, there are many treatment options. If one treatment plan doesn’t work, you can try another until you find the right products and strategies for your personal health. 

Sexual contact. Sexual contact during an eczema flare-up doesn't put your sexual partner at risk. But it does put you at a greater risk of contracting bacteria that can worsen your condition. 

Higher risk for other conditions. Eczema leaves your skin raw and more susceptible to bacteria entering your bloodstream. Skin conditions that commonly affect those with eczema include:

  • Asthma 
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Food allergies 
  • Infections‌
  • Mental health conditions