No man likes to find that his favorite body part is covered in penis sores. This unsettling situation can be a sign of a number of issues, one of which is the little-known STI called donovanosis. Maintaining proper penis health, including avoiding unprotected sex, is important for avoiding STIs; but if a man does contract donovanosis, it’s crucial that he knows what steps to take for treatment.

What is it?

Penis sores (also often called penis ulcers) can occur for a number of reasons, including an allergic reaction to antibiotics or an infection. Often, however, an STI is the culprit. While herpes, syphilis and chancroid are more well-known causes of penis sores, men still need to be aware that these ulcers may indicate donovanosis. This is especially likely if a man has had sex while traveling to one of the less developed regions of the world. Donovanosis is extremely rare in more developed areas, but much more common in less developed (usually tropical or sub-tropical) countries.

Also known as granuloma inguinale, donovanosis is a bacterial disease which presents with ulcers that are often mistaken for those associated with syphilis. If a man has unprotected sex with a person with this bacteria, he may develop the sores - but not right away. Typically there is a window of between 10 and 40 days after exposure during which the ulcers form. The sores are like open wounds, oozing a pus-like substance. The sores themselves are fairly painless, but the longer they last, the more they spread. As they spread, they damage and may even destroy the penile tissue in the area. Scarring often results due to tissue damage.

Left untreated, the ulcers can spread beyond the penis and into the entire groin area, even spreading to the legs.


Antibiotics are typically used to treat donovanosis. It’s important to begin treatment as early as possible; the longer that the condition persists, the longer the treatment may need to be. A typical course of treatment runs 3 weeks or longer; the exact length depends upon how stubborn the sores are.

Once sores have been treated and disappear, a man should still monitor closely. Often, the condition will resurface at a later time.


Since donovanosis can be a recurring condition, it’s advisable to take steps to avoid contamination in the first place. Practicing proper safe sex, including the use of a condom throughout the duration of sexual contact, is strongly advised. It’s also important to avoid sexual contact with a person if there are visible indications that donovanosis (or another STI) may be present.

A man who has donovanosis should avoid having sexual contact with another person until the doctor has determined that the condition is no longer present. This includes all forms of partner-based contact - intercourse, oral sex and manual contact with the genitals.

Donovanosis can be a difficult condition to deal with, and the penis sores that it presents with can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Once the sores have closed and begun healing, there may be lingering soreness. Using a top-notch penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) may provide some relief from the soreness. A crème that is packed with both a high-end emollient (such as Shea butter) and a natural hydrator (think vitamin E) is an excellent choice. This combination of ingredients locks in moisture and helps continue the dermatologic healing. Penis sores often contribute to an unpleasant odor, so using a crème with vitamin A is recommended. Vitamin A possesses anti-bacterial properties which help to eliminate persistent penis odor. Man1 Man Oil can boost penis health to a higher level.