Bowenoid Papulosis

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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  • BP

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Bowenoid Papulosis is a rare, sexually transmitted disorder thought to be caused by human papillomavirus type 16. This disorder is characterized by lesions that are found on the genitals of males and females. The lesions are reddish brown or violet in color, small, solid, raised and sometimes velvety.


Bowenoid Papulosis is a rare sexually transmitted infection that is characterized by lesions that are typically found on the genitals. These lesions may last from two weeks to several years. Females may be affected inside the vagina, on the clitoris, groin folds, labia major, labia minor and/or anus. Males may be affected on the glans, shaft and/or foreskin of the penis as well as the anus. The lesions found in Bowenoid Papulosis are usually reddish brown or violet in color, small, solid, smooth, raised and velvety. The lesions on females are usually darker than the lesions on males.

Many patients with Bowenoid Papulosis often have other types of viral infections that precede this condition. Herpes simplex, human papallomavirus, viral warts, and HIV infection have been found in some patients with this disorder. When viewed under a microscope the Bowenoid Papulosis tissue structure looks like pre-invasive squamous-cell carcinoma (a form of cancer cells). In some cases Bowenoid Papulosis has become malignant.


Bowenoid Papulosis is a sexually transmitted disorder thought to be caused by human papillomavirus type 16. Other viruses as well as a suppressed immune system may also play a role in contracting Bowenoid Papulosis.

Affected Populations

Bowenoid Papulosis affects sexually active males (average age, 30) and females (average age, 32) equally. However, in the literature, Bowenoid Papulosis patients range in age from 3 to 80. It has recently been appearing in increasing numbers worldwide.

Standard Therapies

Patients with Bowenoid Papulosis should be monitored carefully. In some cases Bowenoid Papulosis may heal spontaneously (without treatment). Sexual activity should be limited in order to avoid infecting other people during the contagious stages of this disorder.

Electrosurgery, cryosurgery (surgery in which the tissue is frozen with liquid nitrogen), and/or lazer surgery may be used to remove the lesions when necessary.

In some milder cases the use of 5-Fluorouracil (a chemical that prevents cell division) in the form of a topical cream has been successful.

Investigational Therapies

Information on current clinical trials is posted on the Internet at All studies receiving U.S. government funding, and some supported by private industry, are posted on this government web site.

For information about clinical trials being conducted at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, contact the NIH Patient Recruitment Office:

Tollfree: (800) 411-1222

TTY: (866) 411-1010


For information about clinical trials sponsored by private sources, contact:



Champion RH, et al., eds. Textbook of Dermatology. 5th ed. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Scientific Publications; 1992:2819, 2854.

Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 2nd ed. St. Louis, MO: The C.V. Mosby Company; 1990:246.


Jablonska S, et al., Bowenoid papulosis transforming into squamous cell carcinoma of the genitalia. Br J Dermatol. 1999;141:576-77.

Johnson TM, et al., Isolated extragenital bowenoid papulosis of the neck. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1999;41:867-70.

Olhoffer IH, et al., Facial bowenoid papulosis secondary to human papillomavirus type 16. Br J Dermatol. 1999;140:761-62.

Bhojwani A, et al., Bowenoid papulosis of the penis. Br J Urol. 1997;80:508.

Sarmiento JM, et al., Perianal Bowen's disease: associated tumors, human papillomavirus, surgery, and other controversies. Dis Colon Rectum. 1997;40:912-18.


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