What is balanitis?
Balanitis is inflammation of the foreskin and head of the penis.
What causes balanitis?
Poor hygiene is the main cause of balanitis in uncircumcised men. The following are other possible causes:
- Harsh soaps
- Improper rinsing off soap after bathing
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Diseases like reactive arthritis and lichen sclerosis atrophicus
What are the possible complications of balanitis?
Long-term inflammation of foreskin or penis can lead to the following complications:
- Scarring and narrowing of the opening of the penis (meatal stricture)
- Pain and difficulty to retract the foreskin to expose the tip of the penis (phimosis)
- Difficulty to move the foreskin over the head of the penis (paraphimosis)
- Blood supply to the tip of the penis may be affected
- Increased risk of penile cancer
What are the symptoms of balanitis?
The following are the common symptoms of balanitis:
- Painful penis and foreskin
- Redness of foreskin or penis
- Other rashes on the head of the penis
- Foul-smelling discharge
How is balanitis diagnosed?
A doctor can diagnose balanitis with a physical examination of the penis. The doctor may do skin tests to find out the viruses, fungi, or bacteria that are causing the problem. Sometimes, a skin biopsy may also be done for diagnosis.
How is balanitis treated?
Your doctor will treat balanitis with various medicines, medicated creams, or surgery depending on the cause of the balanitis. In most cases of balanitis, medicated creams and good hygiene is enough to control it.
The following are the treatment options:
- Oral antibiotic pills or antibiotic creams are used to treat balanitis if the cause is bacteria.
- Steroid creams are applied if the skin diseases are causing balanitis.
- The anti-fungal cream is applied if the cause of balanitis fungus.
- In severe cases, where the foreskin cannot be pulled back to clean it, the doctor may recommend circumcision.
This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.