Balanitis, due to infection or another cause, is an inflammation of the gland or head of the penis. Balanitis may be painful and often unpleasant, but typically it is not serious. With topical medicine, it can be eased.
It is a common disorder that affects about 1 in every 25 boys at some point in their lives, and 1 in 30 uncircumcised males. The highest risk is for boys under the age of 4 years and uncircumcised men, but it can happen at any age.
It is more likely if there is phimosis, a condition where the foreskin of the penis is too tight. The foreskin becomes easy to retract as boys reach the age of 5 years, and the risk of balanitis falls.
As the term is used to describe an inflammation of the clitoris, women may also have balanitis. This article will, however, concentrate on the glands of the penis.
Balanitis treatment depends on the cause. The doctor will, in most cases, advise on what substances to avoid and provide the patient with hygiene information.
The doctor may prescribe a mild steroid cream, such as one percent hydrocortisone, for the swelling if the inflammation appears to be due to an allergic reaction or irritant.
It may also be possible to administer an antifungal or antibiotic drug. These can be sold over-the-counter.
If an infection is present, the patient should not use steroid cream alone.
During recovery and before the signs and symptoms are fully gone, all soaps and other possible irritants should be avoided.
Candida is a yeast infection. An antifungal cream, such as clotrimazole or miconazole, may be administered by the doctor. It should also handle the patient’s sex partner. He should either abstain from intercourse or use a condom while treatment is ongoing.
The doctor will prescribe an antibiotic, such as erythromycin or penicillin, if there is a bacterial infection.
If there is no infection and no irritant has been detected, a dermatologist who specializes in skin disorders or a genitourinary clinic may be referred to the patient.
The doctor might recommend circumcision if the patient has a tight foreskin and the balanitis keeps coming back.
Alternatively, to separate it from the penis, a slit may be cut along the top of the foreskin.
A sitting bath can help with symptom management, as discomfort can be reduced by warm water.
Balanitis is easy to treat, but in some cases, complications may happen.
This may include:
- Scarring of a penis opening
- Inadequate supply of blood to the penis
- It is painful to retract the foreskin
Long-term, untreated balanitis can result in a foreskin that does not retract.
The earlier counseling is pursued, the greater the perspective would be.
Among the signs and symptoms of balanitis are:
- Tight, shiny skin on the glands
- Redness surrounding the gland
- Inflammation, soreness, scratching or gland discomfort
- A thick, lumpy discharge under the foreskin
- An odor that is unpleasant
- Tight foreskin that is hard to pull back
- Painful urination
- Swollen glands near the penis
- Sores from the gland
Soreness, pain, and discharge can occur 2 to 3 days after sexual intercourse, under the foreskin.
Some of the symptoms and signs of balanitis are close to those of a thrush or STI.
Types of balanitis
Three forms of balanitis occur:
Zoon’s balanitis: inflammation of the head of the penis and the foreskin. Middle-aged people are generally influenced by older men who have not been circumcised.
Circinate balanitis: Reactive arthritis typically occurs as a result.
Pseudoepitheliomatous keratotic and micaceous balanitis: the skin on the head of the penis is distinguished by scaly, wart-like lesions.
Other than good hygiene, there are no real home remedies for balanitis:
- Clean the penis every day.
- Do not use a bubble bath or soap or anything that could serve as an irritant.
- After peeing, dry softly beneath the foreskin.
- Using an emollient instead of soap (these can be purchased over-the-counter).
Balanitis can come from a variety of conditions.
The most prevalent cause is infection with Candida albicans. The thrush-causing fungus is Candida.
Additional infections that can cause balanitis include:
- Bacteria: These will grow rapidly under the foreskin under moist and warm conditions.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): Herpes simplex virus, Chlamydia, and syphilis are instances.
- Lichen planus, a skin disease with small, itchy, pink, or purple spots on the arms or legs
- Eczema, a long-term or chronic disease of the skin that can lead to itchy, reddened, cracked and dry skin
- Psoriasis, a condition of dry, scaly skin
- Dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin caused by direct contact with an allergic reaction or an irritant
Balanitis has been linked to skin cancer in extremely rare instances.
Gland skin irritation can lead to inflammation.
- Chemicals used in condoms, spermicide, and lubricants
- Washing powders or detergents and fabric conditioners that are not rinsed entirely
- Perfumed soaps and gels for showers
Regular washing and carefully drying the penis so that no moisture remains under the foreskin helps minimize the risk, although the condition can be exacerbated by unnecessary genital washing with soap.
Diabetes increases the risk of infections, especially when the level of blood sugar is poorly regulated. Any of it can linger on the foreskin if glucose is present in the urine. Glucose allows bacteria to reproduce faster.
Phimosis is when the foreskin is too tight, and it is difficult or impossible to retract it, or pull it back, fully over the glans. Under the foreskin, sweat, urine, and other substances may accumulate, causing discomfort and enabling germs to multiply. In teenage and adult males, phimosis is rare.
The risk is also raised by unprotected intercourse, bad hygiene, and getting a urinary catheter. A woman who has a vaginal thrush may infect a man, raising the risk of balanitis being created.
By examining the redness and inflammation of the gland, a doctor can diagnose balanitis.
They will educate the patient on possible irritants, how to prevent them and how to practice good hygiene. The doctor will ask teenage and adult patients about the use and sexual behavior of every latex condom.
The skin should be checked by a doctor for any dermatosis or skin condition that may affect the genital region.
If, after avoiding possible irritants, good hygiene practice, or treatment for yeast infection, the balanitis does not resolve, the doctor may order some diagnostic tests.
Tests that are possible include:
- A gland swab to scan for infection in the laboratory
- If diabetes is suspected, a urine test
- A blood test to assess levels of glucose
A biopsy, in which a sample of inflamed skin is taken and sent to the laboratory for examination, may rarely be performed.
The head of the penis and the foreskin should be kept clean and dry to avoid infections. Regular washing is important, with special attention to cleaning the penis.
Here are some suggestions on hygiene:
- In order to reveal the gland, the foreskin should be drawn back.
- With warm water, the area should be washed thoroughly and gently. Soap can trigger irritation, so it should be avoided.
- It might be possible to use an aqueous cream or some other neutral nonsoap cleanser, but it should be rinsed off completely.
- The gland should be fully dry before replacing the foreskin.
- Men who appear to develop balanitis after sex should, after engaging in sexual activity, wash their penis.
If symptoms tend to be related to substances found in condoms or lubricants, sensitive skin condoms are available.
Non-biological washing powder is better used for underwear and to ensure that all the detergent is rinsed out. Before using the bathroom, individuals who deal with chemicals or have signs of possible irritants on their hands should wash them.
- Balanitis. (n.d.) (LINK)
- Candidal balanitis. (2014, December)
- What is balanitis? (n.d.)
- Medical news today – What to know about balanitis (LINK)