White spots can occur on the testicles for various reasons. They range from Fordyce spots, which are harmless yellow-white bumps, to sexually transmitted infections (STI) — such as syphilis — which need prompt medical treatment.
This article discusses the possible causes of white spots on the testicles, how to prevent and treat them, and when to see a doctor.
There are several possible causes for white spots on the testicles, and each will require a different treatment approach:
Whiteheads are a form of acne that occurs when the pores under the skin become clogged with oil, dead skin, or other debris. These blockages can cause inflammation and the development of a rounded lump. Each lump may have the fleshy-white coloring that characterizes a whitehead.
Whiteheads typically develop in areas with a high concentration of pores, such as the face or chest, but they can also develop on the testicles. They generally do not cause other symptoms and pose no serious health risk.
Whiteheads usually resolve without treatment. However, it is possible to treat whiteheads using over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. The testicles are a sensitive area, so anyone who experiences skin irritation should cease treatment.
Ingrown hairs occur when a hair grows back into its follicle below the skin surface. They can occur anywhere on the body where hair grows, including around the testicles.
Ingrown hairs cause itchy, sore bumps to develop, which can be uncomfortable. It is also possible for them to become infected, leading to folliculitis.
Most ingrown hairs clear up without treatment. However, using an exfoliant to remove dead skin cells can accelerate the healing process.
It is essential to avoid scratching ingrown hairs as this will slow down the healing process and increase the risk of infection. Applying a steroid cream may help to relieve itching.
Folliculitis is a condition in which the hair follicle becomes inflamed. It often occurs as a result of infection and can cause the emergence of spots that contain pus. These spots can be itchy and uncomfortable, but they are not harmful.
Most cases of folliculitis are mild and will clear up after a few days without the need for treatment. Refraining from shaving the area and from wearing tight underwear can help. Topical antibacterial or antifungal medications are available OTC and can help to clear the infection more quickly.
Genital warts and blisters
STIs, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) and herpes simplex virus (HSV), can cause genital warts and blisters, respectively.
Genital warts may appear as white, brown, or flesh-colored bumps that grow on and around the testicles. These warty bumps can be itchy but are usually not painful.
The fluid-filled small blisters of HSV can burst and ooze fluid and may be itchy and painful.
Genital warts resulting from HPV may clear up on their own, but more persistent cases might require treatment.
To treat HPV, doctors may recommend using a cream that supports the immune system in removing the wart, such as imiquimod cream. In some cases, cryotherapy or surgery may be necessary to remove the wart.
The standard treatment for genital blisters resulting from HSV is antiviral medication, which reduces the activity of the virus, but does not kill the virus itself.
However, both of these STIs are chronic infections. A person with HPV may find that warts recur, while someone with HSV may have recurring blisters.
Fordyce spots are small, yellow-white bumps. They occur when the sebaceous glands that secrete oil onto the skin become enlarged. These sebaceous glands are separate from hair follicles.
Fordyce spots are more common on the lips and inner cheek, but they can also occur on the genitals. They are harmless, and it is not possible to transmit them sexually.
Fordyce spots do not require treatment as they do not cause any other symptoms and are not a health risk. However, it is possible to treat them with creams and surgery if people do want to remove them.
Syphilis is an STI that can cause white ulcers to develop on the testicles. It occurs as a result of infection with Treponema pallidum, a highly-infectious bacterium.
Without treatment, syphilis can have serious health consequences, including paralysis and dementia.
People with syphilis require antibiotic therapy. They must begin the course of treatment as soon as possible, as it is not possible to reverse any permanent damage that the condition causes. Even after successful treatment, a person may contract syphilis again at a later date.
The most effective way to prevent many causes of white spots on the testicles is to avoid unprotected sexual activity. This will lower the chances of contracting an STI, which can cause white spots to develop as a symptom.
Other more general tips to reduce the likelihood of white spots developing on the genitals include:
- avoiding tight underwear
- washing the testicles regularly
- spending minimal time in hot climates
- washing after sports or activities that induce sweating
Some causes, such as Fordyce spots, may not be possible to avoid.
If the spots do not disappear within a couple of weeks of using non-prescription treatments, it is best to speak to a doctor. A doctor can determine if the spots are due to a more severe health condition and provide advice on the most appropriate treatment approach.
If other symptoms occur with the spots, it is vital to see a doctor immediately. These could include:
- skin rashes
- abnormal discharge
- burning sensation when urinating
- genital pain after sex
There are several possible causes of white spots on the testicles. In many cases, the spots will be harmless, but some people may want treatment to remove them. Anyone with additional symptoms alongside the white spots should see a doctor.