Even men who stay focused on proper penis health care may at times discover penis ulcers or sores that may take them aback. It can be both surprising and worrisome to find these sores on the penis, especially when a man has taken the time and trouble to behave responsibly in terms of sexual activity and to perform frequent health checks on his valuable equipment. These feelings are normal, but learning about the causes of penis sores may help to allay some fears.

What are they?

A penis ulcer is an open sore on a man's member. Sometimes it may be referred to as a genital sore. Sometimes, a sore may appear alone and unaccompanied; at other times, there may be several of them at the same time.

These ulcers can vary in the amount of pain they cause; sometimes they are relatively pain-free, at other times they may be raw and sensitive and induce a significant amount of pain. Often they are accompanied by rashes, itching and swelling.

What causes them?

There can be numerous causes for these ulcers. The reason that so many men panic when they spot a penis ulcer is because they are frequently associated with sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Among the STIs that may cause the appearance of penis ulcers are:

  • Syphilis. Syphilis is a very serious STI that can cause significant damage or even death if not treated properly. Syphilis is curable with antibiotics if treated promptly; however, this will not undo any damage which has already been suffered before treatment was begun.
  • Genital herpes. One of the most common STIs, with about 1 in 6 people between 14 and 49 infected, genital herpes can be very painful, especially in people with immune system issues. Herpes cannot be cured, but it can be managed.
  • Chancroid. An STI, in which the ulcers tend to be larger and more painful than with syphilis. Chancroid is very rare in the United States and much more common in developing countries.
  • Mononucleosis. An infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, mononucleosis is characterized by a feeling of extreme fatigue, fever and sore throat. Treatment usually involves addressing symptoms, while the virus runs its course on its own time.
  • Granuloma inguinale. A bacterial disease often called donovanosis, granuloma inguinale is rare in the United States and more common in tropical climates. Left untreated, it can cause significant genital tissue damage.
  • Chlamydia. The most common STI in the U.S., chlamydia usually has only small effects on men, but it can destroy a woman's reproductive system - so men must take care not to pass this disorder on.

While penis ulcers often are indicative of an STI, there can be other causes as well, including:

  • Skin wound or abscess. Frequently the ulcer appears simply as a result of a bacterial skin infection or a cut, abrasion or other trauma visited upon the penis.
  • Yeast infection. Also known in men as "thrush."
  • Scabies. An itchy skin rash caused by tiny mites; often but not always passed on through sexual contact.
  • Cancer. Fortunately, penile cancer is fairly rare. While an ulcer may be indicative of cancer, it's wise to remember that this is far from the most likely reason for an ulcer.

Proper treatment of penis ulcers, especially those with an underlying STI as a cause, is extremely important. For sores caused by common skin issues, and for relief of the itching and soreness that can accompany ulcers, a superior penis health cream (health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil) can make a big difference. The most effective creams are those with double-barreled moisturizing power, via ingredients like Shea butter and vitamin E. It's also important that the cream contain a powerful antioxidant like alpha lipoic acid in order to counteract harmful oxidative effects that prematurely age penis cells.