The penis is a very sensitive organ with only a thin layer of skin, which can make it prone to cuts and injuries. Friction, scratching, and simple accidents can all lead to a cut on the penis.
In this article, we discuss some of the potential causes of a cut on the penis. We also cover treatment, home remedies, and when to see a doctor.
Some people choose to trim or remove their pubic hair. Using a razor to shave pubic hair can sometimes cause accidental nicks and cuts to the groin area or penis.
A 2017 survey of adults in the United States found that about 25% of people who groom their pubic hair have injured themselves in the process. Male participants most often reported injuring the scrotum and penis.
Tips to reduce the risk of injuries while shaving pubic hair include:
- using a clean, sharp razor
- wetting the hair and skin thoroughly
- using a shaving gel or cream
- standing up while shaving and avoiding distractions
People who contract sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may develop blisters, sores, rashes, swelling, or general irritation on or around the penis. Sometimes, these lesions can look similar to cuts. Scratching or picking at irritated areas can also cause the skin to tear.
Common types of STI include:
Other symptoms of STIs in males can include:
- painful urination
- itching around the genitals or anus
- unusual discharge from the penis or anus
People with symptoms of an STI should see a doctor or visit a sexual health clinic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that people who are sexually active consider going for regular STI tests.
The skin on the penis is quite thin. During prolonged or repetitive physical activities, the penis can rub against other parts of the body or tight clothing, which can lead to tears or cuts.
Example of activities that may irritate or injure the skin of the penis include:
- running and jogging
- sexual activities, including masturbation
- exercises that involve large or repetitive movements
- sports that involve sprinting or jumping
Cuts from friction can occur nearly anywhere on the penis. Some areas, such as the frenulum, are more likely to sustain these injuries. The frenulum connects the head of the penis to the shaft.
Candidiasis, which people often refer to as thrush, is a yeast infection that occurs due to the overgrowth of a fungus called Candida albicans. Although yeast infections are more likely to develop in the vagina, they can also affect the penis.
Symptoms of a yeast infection on the penis can include:
- patches of red, irritated skin
- itchiness or a burning sensation
- white discharge under the foreskin, which may have an unpleasant smell
The red patches of irritation may sometimes resemble cuts. Scratching affected areas may also lead to small cuts or tears in the skin of the penis.
Factors that can increase the risk of a yeast infection on the penis include:
- not drying the penis properly after washing
- being overweight
- having a condition that can weaken the immune system, such as HIV or diabetes
- excessive sweating in the groin area
Balanitis refers to irritation of the head of the penis. Symptoms of balanitis can include:
- red, itchy, swollen skin
- painful urination
- a buildup of a thick, smelly fluid called smegma
- a tight foreskin
Scratching the irritated skin may lead to small cuts or tears on the penis.
Causes of balanitis can include:
The treatment for a cut on the penis usually depends on the underlying cause. For example, a doctor may prescribe an antibiotic or antiviral medication to treat an STI. For a yeast infection, they may recommend using an antifungal cream or oral drug.
Doctors may also prescribe medicated ointments or creams to help relieve itchiness and irritation.
For people with genital warts, a doctor may recommend a procedure to remove them, such as laser surgery, electrosurgery, or cryotherapy.
A person can treat minor cuts on the penis at home by washing the area with clean water and soap. However, it is important to avoid getting soap in the cut, as this may cause pain or irritation.
If necessary, a person can wrap the cut in a soft, clean bandage. They may also need to avoid sexual activity until the wound heals fully.
Tips for preventing cuts on the penis include:
- washing the penis regularly and drying it thoroughly afterward
- wearing comfortable, well-fitted, and appropriate underwear during sports and exercise
- using a condom during sexual activities
- using a lubricant during sexual intercourse
- keeping the penis moisturized
People with symptoms of an STI should see a doctor or visit a sexual health clinic. It is also best to consult a doctor for cuts that do not begin to heal after a few days.
A person should seek prompt medical attention for:
- painful or difficult urination
- large cuts or cuts that bleed excessively
- blood in the urine
- swollen or painful testicles
- severe pain
- pain that gets worse or does not get better
Cuts on the penis can occur easily due to friction, scratching, or accidents. Lesions from STIs and other infections can sometimes also resemble cuts.
A person should see a doctor for cuts that are large, do not heal, or bleed excessively. People with symptoms of an STI should also seek medical treatment.