Know the basics
What is balanitis?
Balanitis is swelling and soreness or irritation of the foreskin and head of the penis. It tends to occur more often in men who are not circumcised. Balanitis may be painful but is not a serious condition. It can be relieved with topical medications.
How common is balanitis?
Balanitis is a common condition that affects more in men who are uncircumcised. You can limit your risk of having balanitis by reducing the risks factors and maintain proper personal hygiene. Always consult your doctor for more information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of balanitis?
The common signs and symptoms of balanitis are:
- Redness and swelling at the tip of the penis or foreskin;
- Pain and difficulty urinating;
- Foul-smelling discharge;
- And rash at the head of the skin.
If balanitis is left untreated, the shaft of the penis may become affected and blisters and ulcers can form.
There may be some signs and symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
Balanitis is not serious but it can be a sign of an underlying disease or problem, such as sexually transmitted infection or yeast infection. It is important to let your doctor if you have any signs or symptoms of balanitis.
If your baby with balanitis, you should take him to see the pediatrician immediately.
Call your doctor if:
- Swelling worsens even with the treatment;
- Your condition hasn’t improved in 3 or 4 days;
- You have trouble producing urine or if you see blood or pus in your urine;
- Balanitis returns, and consider circumcision if you get balanitis over and over.
Know the causes
What causes balanitis?
Balanitis is most often caused by poor hygiene in uncircumcised men. Other possible causes may include:
- Bacterial or yeast infections;
- Urinary tract infection;
- Poor hygiene;
- Injury or trauma;
- Sexually transmitted disease;
- Sexual intercourse;
A tight foreskin can trap urine, bacteria, and other microorganisms, which can cause balanitis.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for balanitis?
There are many risk factors for balanitis, such as:
- Poor personal hygiene;
- Yeast infection;
- People with reactive arthritis;
- Patients with untreated diabetes or uncontrolled blood glucose when having diabetes;
- Sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes or gonorrhea.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is balanitis diagnosed?
To determine a proper diagnosis, your doctor may perform the following tests:
- Medical history and physical examination;
- Lab tests of discharge sample to determine if the infection is yeast or bacteria related;
- Blood tests to determine if there is a sexual transmitted infection present.
How is balanitis treated?
Treatment depends on age, cause, and whether the person is sexually active and circumcised. Treatment involves retracting the foreskin and soaking the area in lukewarm water. Mild cases need an antibiotic cream for the area. Men with more severe cases or with diabetes may take antibiotics by mouth. Sometimes corticosteroid creams are given to reduce swelling. Surgery is rarely required.
Recovery time depends on the cause and symptoms of the patient. In simple cases, symptoms may improve or even disappear in 5 to 10 days. In complex cases, full recovery may take longer.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage balanitis?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with balanitis:
- Practice good personal hygiene: this means to wash the penis regularly by pushing back your foreskin and cleaning the tip of your penis.
- Avoid irritants such as harsh soaps, moisturizing creams or lubricants.
- Always wear a condom during sex.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions as directed by your doctor.
- Try a milder soap to see if it helps relieve symptoms.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012. Print edition. Page 73.
Balanitis: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000862.htm. Assessed July 13, 2016.