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Men's Health Line - Balanitis

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Introduction and Causes Symptoms and Effects
Prevention Treatment and Self-help

Introduction and Causes
Symptoms and Effects
Treatment and Self-help

What is Balanitis?

Balanitis is an inflammation of the skin covering the head (glans) of the penis.

It is a common condition that can occur in both circumcised and uncircumcised men. But uncircumcised men are more at risk for balanitis due to the presence of foreskin. The environment under the foreskin is warm and moist, and these conditions often favour the growth of the organisms that cause balanitis.

What causes it?

Balanitis is not sexually transmitted. Causes of balanitis include:

  • Poor personal hygiene, resulting in infections with bacteria or fungus or other pathogens.
  • Irritation of the skin by certain chemicals such as soap, laundry detergents or spermicidal jelly.

Men with certain diseases (such as diabetic mellitus) will be more susceptible to balanitis.


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What are the common symptoms?

The most common symptoms are:

  • Redness of foreskin or penis
  • Rash on the head of the penis or under the foreskin
  • Soreness or itchiness in the affected area
  • Smelly discharge from the affected skin or from under the foreskin
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How can I prevent it?

Good personal hygiene can prevent most cases of balanitis. During bathing, the foreskin should be retracted gently to adequately clean and dry the area beneath it.


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What is the treatment?

Treatment depends on the specific cause that can vary from case to case. Your doctor's choice of an appropriate treatment is based on the severity of your symptoms, the extent to which they affect your lifestyle, and the presence of any other medical conditions.

In cases of bacterial or fungal infections, treatment may include oral antibiotics or topical antimicrobial cream to treat the infection. Other ointment may be used to ease skin irritation, if necessary. For uncircumcised men who have a tight, difficult to retract foreskin with repeated bouts of balanitis, circumcision may be considered.

How can I help myself?

Consult a doctor if you experience any signs of balanitis or have any suspicions. The doctor would check your history and arrange the necessary examination to make a diagnosis and then prescribe appropriate treatment when indicated.

No matter what is the cause of your balanitis, it is important to thoroughly clean the penis on a daily basis in order to alleviate symptoms.

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