Penis Pain: Fixed Drug Eruption or STI?

When a man experiences some penis pain and then discovers a sore on his manhood, he may become anxious for his penis health. After all, doesn’t that situation seem like it could be describing an STI? Certainly, it must be some health issue, but it could be due to a different cause, such as a fixed drug eruption. Learning the characteristics of certain penis health issues can help ease a man’s worries until he can visit a doctor and get an informed and definitive answer.

What is a fixed drug eruption?

Essentially, a fixed drug eruption is a way of describing a specific allergic reaction to a particular drug. When a person takes a medication to which they are allergic, it may cause a reaction in one of several ways (itching, hives, sneezing, etc). With a fixed drug eruption, it means that a round or oval shaped lesion will appear. Typically, it is reddish in color although it may shade into brown or purple. The lesion will usually turn into an ulcer, which is tender to the touch.

When the fixed drug eruption appears on the manhood, it usually is accompanied by some penis pain, itching or burning; the burning sensation is more likely to occur during urination.

Although many fixed drug eruptions occur within a day or two of taking a drug, in some cases it may be up to two weeks before lesions appear. Ceasing the drug that causes the eruption may cause the sore to go away; in other cases, steroids may be recommended.


That description sounds an awful lot like an STI, at least on the surface. And because it is crucial to correctly identify causes of penis health issues, it’s important that a physician be consulted to verify exactly why this lesion has occurred. However, that said, there are some reasons why this description indicates a fixed drug eruption rather than certain STIs.

– Syphilis. Take syphilis, for example. One of the most-feared social diseases, syphilis causes about 100,000 deaths worldwide each year – and newly infects about 6,000,000 people annually. One of the most common clinical characteristics of syphilis is a lesion on the penis. However, that lesion is typically much “harder” than the one involved in a fixed drug eruption. Additionally, penis pain is not a common characteristic with syphilis.

– Herpes. Genital herpes are also characterized with lesions; however, with herpes, the sores tend to be smaller and more numerous. They also tend to cluster, whereas fixed drug eruption lesions (when they are multiple) may not appear in an obvious grouping. The herpes lesions are also not pigmented in the same way. There is, however, a similar tendency to penis pain and itching.

– Chancroid. Chancroid is a penis health concern not just for itself but because it can also make a person more vulnerable to HIV infection. With chancroid, the ulcer can be more painful than with a fixed drug eruption. The coloration is much different, typically yellowish-gray, and turning to black when tissue cell destruction is complete. In addition, swelling of lymph nodes can create a swollen and sore area in the midsection.

– Gonorrhea. Gonorrhea often presents with no symptoms; however, when it does, ulcers are not among its common symptoms.

Once a physician has determined the cause of the sore, proper treatment can be initiated.

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