The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

I have had small red bumps in my groin area above my penis (where the majority of the pubic hair is) for about two weeks now. I have never had any kind of sex, or even kissed a girl. But some kids in my school have herpes, and it is possible that some kids on my hockey team have herpes. Could these bumps be a sign of herpes? Also, I mentioned I play hockey so it might be jock itch. The bumps are scattered and vary in size, but none of them are too big. Also, I shaved my pubic hair for the first time about one or two days before these bumps first appeared. Could the bumps be irritation from shaving or possibly ingrown hairs? Thank you in advance for your answer. I love the web site and it has helped me a lot.

Joey (age 16)


Answer

Let's start with the easy part first: it isn't herpes. Herpes is usually caught by skin-to-skin contact. It is especially contagious if you have contact with an area of skin that has a current outbreak. (Outbreaks come and go with herpes and at first stay close to where the disease was first contracted.) It is possible to contract herpes through blood or saliva. Typically, a person with herpes is not allowed to play contact sports because of the concern of spreading the disease. So it is not likely that a person with herpes would be on your team, but people have been known to skirt the rules in the past.

But as I mentioned, herpes first breaks out where the disease was contracted, so unless you had pressed your bare groin against someone with the disease against his bare skin, or unless you got his blood or saliva on that area, it is almost certain that you don't have herpes.

Jock itch would be very typical for an athlete. That is a fungus infection that loves warm moist areas, like your groin or your feet since athletes tend to sweat a lot. Showering in locker rooms tend to spread the fungus because most boys are in a rush to get dress and don't dry off completely. If it is jock itch, you find the area very itchy. The bumps should be in no particular pattern. The skin will be red and slightly swollen and the edges are sharply defined. Depending on the type of fungus, there might even be a pimple in the middle. In other words it looks much like acne, but it itches.

If this sounds like what you have, get some over the counter medication for jock itch. Follow the instructions carefully and completely. If it is jock itch, you will get relief almost immediately and see improvement within a day or two. You have to use the medication for the full length of time, even though it looks like it has gone away. This is because the fungus gets under your skin. If you stop too soon, it will flare right back up.

But the best guess is that you got an infection in your hair follicles when you shaved. Shaving makes little nicks in the skin and it is easy for bacteria to find its way in. Since the groin is covered and moist, it means it is a ripe breeding ground for bacteria. Look very carefully and see if the bumps just happen to be surrounding where a hair is exiting your skin. If this is the case, try using an antibiotic cream on the bumps twice a day. You should see the bumps begin to fade in a few days. If they don't then the cream isn't going to help. I would also recommend not shaving your groin -- it isn't worth the effort.

If it was ingrown hair, you will see the hairs curling just under the surface of the skin. You might have to use a magnifying glass to see it. Usually this is only a problem with boys with kinky hair, such as those of African descent.

If neither the anti-fungal medication or the antibiotic cream works, you should see your doctor so he can identify what you have caught and give you the proper medication to eliminate it.