Balanitis is an inflammation of the glans or the head of the penis because of the infection or of any other cause. It can be painful and uncomfortable but it’s not serious. This is a common condition that affects approximately 1 in every 30 boys who are uncircumcised at some point in their life. Balanitis can occur due to phimosis, which is a condition in which the foreskin of the penis is tight. Women can also have balanitis, the term is used to describe an inflammation of the clitoris.
The symptoms and signs of balanitis include:
- Redness around glans
- Shiny skin on the glans
- A lumpy discharge under the foreskin
- Tight foreskin which cannot be pulled back
- Urination would be painful
- Swollen glands near the penis
- Sores present on glans
- Unpleasant smell
Types Of Balanitis
There are two types of balanitis:
Zoon’s balanitis: The inflammation of the head of the penis and foreskin. It usually affects the middle-aged to older men who have not been circumcised.
Circinate balanitis: It normally occurs as a result of reactive arthritis.
Some infections that can cause balanitis are:
- Bacteria: Bacteria can multiply rapidly in the warm region under the foreskin.
- Sexually transmitted infections: Some examples that include Chlamydia, herpes simplex virus & syphilis.
Irritation of the skin of glans can also lead to inflammation. Irritants include:
- Perfumed shower gels and soaps
- Chemicals which are used in lubricants, condoms
- Washing powders or detergents which are not completely rinsed
Diabetes also increases the risk of the infections, if the blood sugar levels are not controlled. If there is a presence of glucose in the urine, some of it can also remain on the foreskin. Glucose helps bacteria to multiply more faster.
Phimosis happens when the foreskin is too tight and it gets difficult to retract it or pull it back over glans. Urine, sweat can accumulate under the foreskin which can cause irritation that allows the germs to multiply. Phimosis is rare in adult males.
The doctor diagnoses balanitis by checking for redness and inflammation of glans. He also advises the patient to avoid irritants. The doctor also recommends the patient about condom use.
If the balanitis does not resolve even after avoiding irritants as well as after practicing good hygiene, the doctor can recommend some diagnostic tests. These tests include:
- Urinary test, if diabetes is suspected
- A blood test to check glucose levels
- A swab from glans to test for the infection in lab
The treatment of the balanitis depends totally on the cause. In most of the cases, the doctor will advise on what substances to avoid and give the patient advice on how to maintain hygiene.
If the inflammation occurs because of an allergic reaction, the doctor can prescribe a steroid cream like percent hydrocortisone to reduce the swelling. The doctor will also prescribe an antibiotic medication. These will be available over-the-counter or they can be purchased online. It is suggested to avoid soaps to lower the irritation during the treatment until all the symptoms have disappeared.
It’s a yeast infection. The doctor will prescribe a cream such as miconazole. The patient’s sex partner should be diagnosed and treated as well. When the treatment is underway, he should not use a condom and refrain from sex.
If you are having a bacterial infection, the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic like penicillin. If there is no infection and no irritant has been identified, the patient should be referred to a dermatologist, who specializes in skin conditions.
If the patient has a tight foreskin and the balanitis keeps on coming back, the doctor will suggest for a circumcision. A slit can be cut from the top of the foreskin to separate it from your penis. You will be asked to take a sitz bath which can reduce the symptoms, warm water can reduce discomfort.
Balanitis is easy to treat but there are some complications which can occur, which can include:
- Scarring of the opening of the penis
- Improper blood supply to the penis
- Retracting of the foreskin is painful
To prevent infections, the head of the penis and the foreskin should be kept clean. Daily cleaning of the penis is essential. Given below are some hygiene tips:
- The foreskin should be pulled back so glans is exposed.
- You should wash the area thoroughly and with warm water. Soap can irritate, so you should avoid it.
- Rinse off completely after using aqueous cream.
- Glans should be completely dry before replacing the foreskin.
- Men should wash off their penis after sex to reduce the chances of balanitis.
If you are suffering from balanitis, then it’s recommended to visit a doctor as soon as it’s possible. The risk of balanitis can be removed by proper hygiene. Contact your doctor for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the risk of leaving balanitis untreated?
The condition, Balanitis, is common in uncircumcised men and is associated with poor penile hygiene. Balanitis rarely occurs in circumcised men as the infected pathogens under the foreskin of the penis cause this problem.
What are the causes of Balanitis?
Firstly, poor personal hygiene. If you don’t wash under the foreskin of penis, it may cause a cheesy substance called smegma to collect. This substance gets infected and causes irritation. This condition is more likely to happen when the foreskin of the penis is tighter than usual to allow it to be retracted.
Is there a way to prevent Balanitis?
The best shot is to washing your penis thoroughly every day after a bath, especially if you are uncircumcised.
When do I need to visit a doctor?
You should see your doctor as soon as you feel signs like redness or irritation around the foreskin. It is a serious illness that needs to be treated as soon as possible. You also need to make sure that an STI (sexually transmitted infection) which inflicts similar symptoms hasn’t caused the problem.
Are there any self-help or home-care methods to treat balanitis?
You need to use a mild, unperfumed soap every day. Also, you can use two handfuls of salt in the bath, but nothing else such as bubble bath, bath oils, or disinfectants. Moreover, wash your underwear with non-biological washing powder or liquid.