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Having a sore penis can be a frustrating and unpleasant experience. It may be caused by injury, or could be a sign of a more serious health condition, such as:
A sore penis isn’t always something to worry about, but it’s important to find out what’s causing it.
Masturbating too often or too vigorously can cause your penis to become sore and red.
If you masturbate too much in a short space of time your penis can swell up (oedema), due to the build up of fluid in the tissue.
If the lymph vessels that carry this fluid around the penis become blocked there’s also a risk of getting a temporary hard lump (lymphocele), which is generally painless.
It’s not just masturbation either -- sex can cause the lump too.
Some of the most common STIs have symptoms of redness and soreness due to swelling, sores, lumps and bumps on the penis. They include:
Balanitis is the general term used to describe swelling or irritation of the head, and sometimes foreskin, of the penis.
It can cause the penis to be red, irritated and sore and usually happens when you get a fungal infection, an STI, or build-up of a cheesy-looking substance called smegma, which is a natural lubricant found on the head of the penis and under the foreskin.
Thrush is a yeast infection that can have symptoms including skin irritation, a burning sensation and redness around the head of the penis and under the foreskin.
It’s caused by a fungus called candida that occurs naturally in the body, especially in warm, moist areas like the genitals. The fungus can spread during sex.
You’re at higher risk of developing thrush if you have:
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes skin cells to be replaced more quickly than usual. Symptoms can include redness, pain and splitting of the skin on the penis.
Lichen planus is an itchy rash that can affect many areas of the body, including the genitals. It’s thought to be related to either the immune system or an allergic reaction to medications.
Occasionally a sore penis can be a sign of penile cancer.
This accounts for less than 1% of all new cancer cases in men in the UK and US but it’s important to recognise the signs so you can get treatment as soon as possible if needed.
If you experience any of these symptoms for 3 weeks or more -- you should see a doctor.
You can also try self-care techniques to treat a sore penis at home.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.