Photo Quiz

Projections on the Glans Penis

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Am Fam Physician. 1998 Apr 1;57(7):1639-1640.

A 24-year-old black man presented with painless small nodules on the penis (see the accompanying figure). He was referred for evaluation by his wife's physician because she had human papillomavirus infection, which had been identified through a Papanicolaou smear. The patient had no significant past medical history.


What are the lesions that are seen in the photograph?

A. Remnants of circumcision skin tags.

B. Adhesions from the glands to the foreskin that have been ruptured by forcible retraction of the foreskin.

C. Micro condyloma acuminata.

D. Pearly penile papules.

E. Condyloma lata.


The answer is D: pearly penile papules. Pearly penile papules1,2 are relatively common benign tumors that occasionally occur in uncircumcised males such as this patient (note that in the photograph, the foreskin was retracted for better visualization). Histologically, these angiofibromas are seen as regular projections from the edge of the glans at the coronal margin. Studies3 have shown that these angiofibromas do not contain HPV DNA by polymerase chain reaction; therefore, they are not condyloma acuminata. Nor are they condyloma lata, which are the moist condylomas seen in secondary syphilis. Reassurance is usually the only treatment necessary, but occasionally patients may request that the papules be removed. Treatment may consist of cryosurgery4 or laser therapy.5 This patient was reassured and discharged to routine follow-up.


show all references

1. Lynch PJ, Edwards L. Genital dermatology. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1994:128....

2. George WM. Papular pearly penile pearls. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1989;20(5 Pt 1):852.

3. Ferenczy A, Richart RM, Wright TC. Pearly penile papules: absence of human papillomavirus DNA by the polymerase chain reaction. Obset Gynecol. 1991;78(1):118–22.

4. Ocampo-Candiani J, Cueva-Rodriguez JA. Cryosurgical treatment of pearly penile papules. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1996;35(3 Pt 1):486–7.

5. Magid M, Garden JM. Pearly penile papules: treatment with the carbon dioxide laser. J Dermatol Surg Oncol. 1989;15(5):552–4.

Contributing editor is MARC S. BERGER, M.D., C.M., The Reading Hospital and Medical Center, Reading, Pennsylvania

The editors of AFP welcome submissions for Photo Quiz. Guidelines for preparing and submitting a Photo Quiz manuscript can be found in the Authors' Guide at To be considered for publication, submissions must meet these guidelines. E-mail submissions to


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