Balanitis – What it is, Causes and Treatments

By the name it is difficult to know what it is, but balanitis is a very common condition among male children and adult men. Despite the discomfort, it does not cause more serious damage and can be treated with topical medication.

What is Balanitis?

Balanitis is an inflammation of the glans , or the head, of the penis, due to infection or another cause. Balanitis can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful, but it is usually not serious.

It is a common condition that affects approximately 1 in 25 boys and 1 in 30 uncircumcised men at some point in their life.

Boys under the age of 4 and uncircumcised men are at higher risk, but it can happen at any age. It is possible that it is more frequent in individuals who have phimosis (a condition where the foreskin of the penis is very tight).

When boys reach the age of 5, the foreskin becomes easy to retract and the risk of balanitis drops a lot.

Types of Balanitis

Although balanitis is an inflammation and looks the same, the types are different:

Zoon Balanitis – Inflammation of the head of the penis and foreskin. It usually affects middle-aged men and older men who have not been circumcised.

Circulating Balanitis – Usually occurs as a result of reactive arthritis.

Civatte Pseudoepitheliomatous Balticitis and Civatte – Characterized by scaly and warty skin lesions on the head of the penis.

Causes of Balanitis

Candida albicans infection is the most common cause. Candida is the fungus that causes thrush.

Other infections that can cause balanitis include:

  • Bacteria : these can multiply quickly in hot and humid conditions under the foreskin
  • sexually transmitted nfecções (STDs) : Examples include the herpes simplex virus, chlamydia and syphilis.
  • Skin conditions can also trigger the condition.

Examples include:

  • Lichen planus – a skin disease with small, itchy, pink or purple spots on the arms or legs
  • Eczema – a chronic or long-term skin condition that can lead to itchy, reddish, chapped and dry skin
  • Psoriasis – a scaly, dry skin disorder
  • Dermatitis – an inflammation of the skin due to direct contact with an irritant or an allergic reaction
  • In very rare cases, balanitis has been linked to skin cancer.
  • Irritation – Irritation of the skin of the glans can lead to inflammation.

They include:

  • Chemicals used in condoms, lubricants and spermicides
  • Detergents or laundry detergent and fabric softeners that are not thoroughly rinsed
  • Scented soaps and bath salts
  • Diabetes : Increases the risk of infections, especially if blood sugar levels are poorly controlled. If glucose is present in the urine, some of it may remain in the foreskin. Glucose helps bacteria to multiply more quickly.
  • Phimosis : It is when the foreskin is very tight, and it is difficult or impossible to retract it, or to pull it back, completely over the glans. Sweat, urine and other substances can build up under the foreskin, causing irritation and allowing germs to multiply. Phimosis is uncommon in adolescent and adult men.
    Symptoms

Symptoms of Balanitis

The signs and symptoms of balanitis include:

  • Tight and shiny skin on the glans
  • Redness around the glans
  • Inflammation, pain, itching or irritation of the glans
  • Thick and acute discharge under the foreskin
  • Unpleasant smell
  • Tight foreskin that cannot be pulled back
  • Pain when urinating
  • Swollen glands near the penis
  • Wounds on the glans

For men who have an active sex life, pain, irritation and discharge can often occur under the foreskin 2 to 3 days after intercourse . Some of the signs and symptoms of balanitis are similar to those of an STD.

How is the diagnosis made?

Balanitis can be diagnosed with clinical examination . The doctor will observe the redness and inflammation of the glans. You can examine the skin for any acne or skin disease that may involve the genital area.

If balanitis is not resolved after avoiding potential irritants, practicing good hygiene or treating a yeast infection, the doctor may order some diagnostic tests.

Possible tests include:

  • Swab test on the glans for detection of laboratory infection
  • Urine test, if diabetes is suspected
  • A blood test to determine glucose levels
  • Rarely, a biopsy can be done, in which a sample of the inflamed skin is taken and sent to the laboratory for testing.

Balanitis Treatment

The treatment of balanitis depends on the cause. In most cases, the doctor will advise you about the substances to avoid and provide you with information on hygiene.

Allergic reaction – Antifungal creams can treat balanitis caused by Candida.

If the inflammation appears to be due to an allergic or irritating reaction, the doctor may prescribe a mild steroid cream, such as 1% hydrocortisone, for the swelling.

An antifungal or antibiotic medication may also be prescribed. If there is an infection, the patient should not use a steroid cream on his own.

All soaps and other potential irritants should be avoided during treatment, and until the signs and symptoms have completely disappeared.

Candida – Candida is a yeast infection. The doctor will prescribe an antifungal cream. The patient’s sexual partner must also undergo treatment. While treatment is ongoing, the patient must abstain from sex.

Bacterial infection – If there is a bacterial infection, the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic.

If there is no infection and no irritant has been identified, the patient can be referred to a dermatologist, skin specialist or urologist.

Is There Any Home Treatment?

There are no real home remedies for balanitis, other than good hygiene:

  • Clean your penis every day.
  • Do not use soap or bath salts or anything that can act as an irritant.
  • After peeing, dry under the foreskin gently.
  • Instead of regular soap, it is better to use an intimate soap.
  • A sitz bath can help manage symptoms, as warm water can reduce discomfort.

Washing and drying the penis daily carefully so that moisture does not remain under the foreskin helps to reduce the risk, although excessive genital washing with soap can aggravate the condition.

The unprotected sex , lack of hygiene and urinary catheter also increase the risk. A woman who has vaginal problems can infect a man, increasing the risk of developing balanitis.

How is Balanitis Prevention Done?

To prevent infections, the head of the penis and the foreskin must be kept clean and dry . Daily washing, with special attention to cleaning the penis, is essential.

Here are some hygiene tips:

  • The foreskin must be retracted so that the glans is exposed.
  • The area should be washed carefully and gently with warm water. Soap can irritate, so it should be avoided.
  • Intimate soap or other neutral liquid soap can be used, but it should be rinsed thoroughly.
  • Before returning the foreskin, the glans should be completely dry.
  • Men who tend to develop balanitis after sex should wash their penis after they have finished their sexual activities.

Avoiding Irritations

If symptoms appear to be linked to substances in condoms or lubricants, condoms are available for sensitive skin. Men who work with chemicals or have traces of potential irritants on their hands should wash them before using the bathroom.

See Also: Vaginal Synechia – How Do I Know If My Daughter Has It?

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My name is Dr. Alexis Hart I am 38 years old, I am the mother of 3 beautiful children! Different ages, different phases 16 years, 12 years and 7 years. In love with motherhood since always, I found it difficult to make my dreams come true, and also some more after I was already a mother.

Since I imagined myself as a mother, in my thoughts everything seemed to be much easier and simpler than it really was, I expected to get pregnant as soon as I wished, but it wasn’t that simple. The first pregnancy was smooth, but my daughter’s birth was very troubled. Joana was born in 2002 with a weight of 2930kg and 45cm, from a very peaceful cesarean delivery but she had already been born with congenital pneumonia due to a broken bag not treated with antibiotics even before delivery.

Dr. Alexis Hart

My name is Dr. Alexis Hart I am 38 years old, I am the mother of 3 beautiful children! Different ages, different phases 16 years, 12 years and 7 years. In love with motherhood since always, I found it difficult to make my dreams come true, and also some more after I was already a mother. Since I imagined myself as a mother, in my thoughts everything seemed to be much easier and simpler than it really was, I expected to get pregnant as soon as I wished, but it wasn’t that simple. The first pregnancy was smooth, but my daughter’s birth was very troubled. Joana was born in 2002 with a weight of 2930kg and 45cm, from a very peaceful cesarean delivery but she had already been born with congenital pneumonia due to a broken bag not treated with antibiotics even before delivery.

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