Balanitis: Causes, Symptoms and treatments

What is Balanitis?


Balanitis is an inflammation of the skin at the end of the penis (the glans). Often the foreskin is also inflamed at the same time as the glans. (The foreskin is the loose skin that covers the glans if you have not been circumcised.)

Balanitis is common and it can occur at any age. It more commonly affects boys aged under 4 years and also men who have not been circumcised. In middle-aged or older men, it is called Zoon’s balanitis. About one in 25 boys and about one in 30 uncircumcised men are affected with balanitis at some time in their lives. Not being circumcised increases the risk of balanitis.


Causes of Balanitis:


Balanitis can be caused by:

·        Poor hygiene, leading to a build-up of smegma

·        Irritation under the foreskin caused by pee

·        Soaps, shower gels, and other skin irritants

·        Thrush

·        A bacterial infection

·        sexually transmitted infection (STI)

·        Skin conditions, such as eczemapsoriasis, and lichen sclerosus

·        Children fiddling with their foreskin

Symptoms of Balanitis:


·        A sore, itchy and smelly penis

·        Redness and swelling

·        Build-up of thick fluid

·        Pain when peeing


Some adults may also have a tight foreskin that won’t pull back. This is a condition called phimosis.


When to see a doctor?

You should see your GP if you think you’ve got balanitis just to make sure it isn’t a sign of something more serious like a sexually transmitted infection (STI).


Treating Balanitis:

Most cases of balanitis are easily treated with good hygiene and creams and ointments recommended by your GP.


ü Hygiene


·         If you have balanitis, you should clean your penis daily with lukewarm water and gently dry it.

·        Don’t use soap, bubble bath, shampoo or any other potential irritant.

·        Dry gently under the foreskin after peeing.

·        Try a soap substitute like an emollient, available from a pharmacy.


ü Creams and ointments

Depending on what’s causing the balanitis, your GP may recommend creams or ointments, such as:

 Steroid cream or ointment for a simple skin irritation

     Antifungal cream or tablets for a yeast infection       

     Antibiotics for a bacterial infection

ü See your GP if the treatment doesn’t start to
work within seven days. You may need another treatment or be advised to see a

ü Circumcision may be advised in rare cases where a child keeps getting balanitis.

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