Several conditions can affect the male genitalia. Balanitis is one such condition that causes inflammation of the head of the penis. Fortunately, this condition can be prevented, and if you do happen to have it, there are effective treatment options available.

Balanitis is a condition characterized by irritation and inflammation of the penis head. This sensitivity of the penis head is more commonly found in uncircumcised men, although it can also occur in circumcised men. Despite being reluctant to discuss this issue, it is important to recognize when the condition becomes a concern. In this article, we will discuss what balanitis is, what causes it, and its symptoms.

Overview of Balanitis

Balanitis is a condition that affects men. This inflammatory condition affects the penis and causes swelling, redness, itchiness and soreness.

The term balanitis comes from two Greek words, balanos and itis. Balanos means acorn and itis is a suffix that describes inflammation. Many people who have balanitis may also notice signs of posthitis, which is a swelling of the foreskin. If you have a swollen glans penis, and foreskin, then it’s called balanoposthitis.

It’s estimated that up to 11% of men[1] will develop symptoms of balanitis at some point in their lives. However, the prevalence of balanitis is much lower in circumcised men, reported to be about 3%.

What are the Different Types of Balanitis

When you have balanitis, your doctor will usually want to know what type you have. This will help them get an idea of the state of the situation, including the severity of the condition. The three main types include:

  • Circinate balanitis: This is a fairly common form of balanitis[2]. It’s linked to reactive arthritis and will not only cause inflammation, but also small lesions to develop on your glans penis.

  • Zoon’s balanitis: Also called ZB, this type involves inflammation that affects both your foreskin and glans penis. Most men affected by Zoon’s balanitis[3] are considered middle-aged and uncircumcised. Poor hygiene, urine retention, smegma, and irritation are the main elements associated with this type.

  • Pseudoepitheliomatous keratotic and micaceous balanitis: This type of balanitis is also called PKMB[4], and it’s quite rare. It’s more common in older men and those who are uncircumcised. PKMB is characterized by the development of a thick layer of plaque on the head of your penis. It’s a chronic condition that is likely to recur.

Balanitis Causes and Risk Factors

Balanitis has several causes. While poor hygiene is often associated with the condition, you mustn’t overlook these potential factors:

  • STIs: It’s relatively common for people with sexually transmitted infections to develop balanitis. Some of these STIs will cause additional symptoms. For example, herpes may cause inflammation in your penis, as well as sores. Syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea are also STIs that increase your risk of developing balanitis.

  • Diabetes: Men with diabetes have a higher risk of developing balanitis as well. This is due to the glucose in the urine, which can create an ideal environment for both yeast and bacteria to grow.

  • Skin conditions: Some skin conditions can cause your penis inflammation. If you’ve been looking at how to treat dry skin on the penis surface, for example, then you might be facing a condition that’s causing excessive dryness. Psoriasis and eczema are two examples of such conditions, which not only cause dryness but also itching and scaling.

  • Irritation: If you expose your penis to irritants, then this can also be a reason behind balanitis symptoms. Remember that the head of your penis is very sensitive. This means it can become irritated rather easily. Washing with soap that contains harsh ingredients is one example of a case where you’ll expose your penis to irritants.

  • Infection: You can also develop balanitis as a result of an infection. Both bacteria and yeast infections can develop when microorganisms collect under your foreskin and begin to grow.

Balanitis Symptoms

Inflammation is a key symptom that develops if you have balanitis. This inflammation tends to affect the head of your penis. You may notice that your penis looks swollen in an area that’s larger than just the head as well.

Apart from the swelling, other symptoms will often be present as well. These may include:

  • Pain: A lot of men with balanitis will also complain about pain symptoms. The inflamed area may feel sore, especially if you touch it. The pain can be accompanied by tenderness as well.

  • Tight foreskin: There are certain symptoms that uncircumcised men will notice with their foreskin. You may notice that your foreskin is tighter than it usually is. If your foreskin becomes swollen, the skin may appear shiny. Smegma can also develop, which is a discharge that collects underneath your foreskin.

  • Redness: As the glans penis becomes inflamed, it’s possible to notice redness in the affected area. The amount of redness depends on how much inflammation there is. Sometimes, only a small patch will be red. However, there are cases where a larger area of your penis may appear red and inflamed.

If the balanitis is related to an infection, then you’ll also notice itching and irritation.

How is Balanitis Diagnosed?

A physical examination is one of the key factors in diagnosing balanitis. This means you’ll need to visit a doctor’s office and get them to look at the inflamed area. During the examination, your doctor will take a look at the inflammation and see if there are any other visible symptoms.

Your doctor will also ask you more about the symptoms that you’ve been experiencing. It’s important to note anything other than the inflammation, such as discomfort and pain. For example, tell the doctor if you’ve noticed red spots under the foreskin, not itchy or otherwise. This helps the doctor get an idea of what’s going on.

Sometimes, your doctor will prefer to do a couple of tests. These tests can help your doctor rule out underlying factors that could be the cause behind balanitis. The tests may include:

  • Urine test: Urinalysis requires you to provide the doctor with a urine sample which is sent to a laboratory to look for traces of an infection. It is sometimes used to determine if the underlying factor could be related to diabetes.

  • Blood tests: There are also blood tests that a doctor can request to determine if you have an infection. Blood samples can also be used to get a better idea of your blood glucose levels. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can make it harder to effectively treat an infection linked to balanitis.

  • Biopsy: There are some cases where your doctor may think the issue is not balanitis, but rather another condition. In such a case, your doctor may recommend getting a biopsy done. A small piece of tissue will be removed from the head of your penis and sent to a laboratory for assessment. This can help to identify potentially dangerous conditions at an early stage.

  • Swab: Sometimes, instead of asking for a urine or blood sample, the doctor will rather use a swab test. This involves using a special type of tool to swab the urethral opening of your penis. Your doctor can send this swab to a lab to test for infection. It’s sometimes also used when your doctor suspects an STI.

  • Scraping: While not a common occurrence, there are some cases where mites are involved in the development of balanitis. If this is something that your doctor suspects, then skin scraping can be used to help with the diagnostics process.

Treatment Options For Balanitis

If you have balanitis, it’s crucial to know about the different treatment options available. It is important to note that various factors can cause inflammation in the glans penis. Therefore, it is necessary to identify the underlying cause before treating the condition.

In many cases, the cause is related to poor hygiene, especially in uncircumcised men. This can result in a penis yeast infection or even a bacterial infection. When you experience an inflammation, check for other symptoms. If there aren’t any, begin by regularly cleaning your penis by fully retracting your foreskin. Afterwards, gently pat your penis dry without rubbing the towel against your skin.

If you do this for a couple of days and the symptoms do not improve, or they get worse, then you should consult a doctor. Your doctor can examine the inflammation, help to determine the cause, and can prescribe the appropriate treatment. For instance, if you have a rash on penis skin along with the inflammation, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if they determine the cause is a bacterial infection.

In a situation where you have male yeast infection symptoms, on the other hand, they will generally give you an antifungal ointment to apply to your penis. It’s important to ensure you follow any instructions that your doctor gives you. This will help speed up recovery and reduce the risk of experiencing complications due to balanitis.

Other treatment options may include:

  • Circumcision: If you’re uncircumcised, your doctor may recommend a circumcision. This can be especially useful if you have recurrent cases of balanitis. Circumcision involves a procedure where your foreskin is removed. It can help reduce the occurrence of balanitis and makes it easier to keep the head of your penis clean.

  • Dorsal slit: Some men don’t want to opt for a circumcision. If your doctor finds that your foreskin is very tight and you prefer not to have a circumcision, then they may recommend a dorsal slit. This is also a surgical procedure, but it simply opens up the foreskin so that the head of your penis is visible. It does not, however, completely remove your foreskin like circumcision.

  • Disease management: There are cases where balanitis can be linked to an underlying condition. In this case, treatment also involves targeting that condition. One example would be someone with diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause serious complications that affect different parts of your body. Your doctor may decide to make changes to your treatment if they determine diabetes is behind balanitis.

Balanitis can cause complications that need to be addressed as well. For example, some men may notice that the inflammation of their penis affects their self-confidence, especially when participating in sexual activities. If this is the case, taking a supplement like Virectin can often help to ensure you get your confidence back and that the condition doesn’t impair your abilities in the bedroom.

If you are experiencing severe inflammation, it is advisable to wait before having sex. The friction caused by sexual activity can worsen the existing inflammation and cause further irritation to your penis. In case you are unsure when it is appropriate to become sexually active again, you can consult your doctor. The good news is that the symptoms of balanitis usually resolve within a couple of days.

Can You Prevent Balanitis?

A very important factor to consider when it comes to balanitis is the fact that this is a preventable disease. When you implement preventative measures into your daily life, you allow yourself to reduce your risk of getting balanitis. These steps are especially important for men who are uncircumcised since the condition is most common in these men.

When it comes to prevention, hygiene is the most important factor that we should discuss. You have to make sure to wash the head of your penis daily. Use a mild soap that can still properly clean your penis. After washing, make sure to dry the head of your penis. A moist environment can result in bacteria and other microorganisms causing infection, which can then lead to inflammation.

If you’re uncircumcised, retract your foreskin completely when cleaning your penis head. This ensures you do not leave any debris behind that could contribute to an infection.

Apart from good hygiene, there are other things you can do to effectively prevent balanitis. It’s important to understand your risk. For instance, if you have diabetes, you may be more likely to develop balanitis. In this case, taking the right medication and implementing steps to manage your blood sugar levels will be very useful when it comes to preventing this complication.

Sexually active men also need to ensure they protect themselves during sex. This means wearing a condom when you have sexual intercourse. Even with protection, it’s still important to get screened for common STDs regularly. This can help you identify the presence of these sexually transmittable infections at an early stage, potentially before they lead to complications like balanitis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you cure balanitis at home?

A lot of men are hesitant to visit the doctor when they have a problem with their genitals. If this is your case, then you might wonder whether you can cure this condition at home. Luckily, there are several cases where balanitis will go away on its own. It’s important to focus on good hygiene. Regularly washing the area of your penis that’s affected can help to keep it clean. Make sure to dry it properly afterward as well. However, if balanitis is caused by an infection, then you’ll need to visit a doctor for treatment.

Why do I have balanitis?

There are several reasons why you may develop balanitis. Injury to your penis is a relatively common reason for this condition. Several types of infections can result in balanitis, such as a yeast infection, as well as STIs. Apart from these, it’s important to understand that balanitis can be a result of another disease, like diabetes, psoriasis, or even an allergic reaction.

How long does balanitis last?

With proper care, you should notice that the symptoms of balanitis start to clear up after a couple of days. In most of these cases, the condition should last no longer than a week. If the symptoms continue to linger after seven days, then it might be a sign that the condition needs medical treatment.

Should I worry about balanitis?

It depends on how severe it is. If you have mild inflammation, soap and water can usually solve the problem. However, in cases of more severe inflammation and pain, it can be a sign of something more serious. This may include problems like an infection or complications of another disease.

Conclusion

Balanitis is relatively common and usually affects men who have not been circumcised. It can affect men of all ages, including boys and teenagers. Good hygiene is one of the primary ways to prevent balanitis from developing, but it’s also important to understand that it’s sometimes related to an underlying medical condition. This is why it’s important to know when home remedies are not enough, as seeing a doctor can help prevent complications.

References

1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537143
2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6267749/
3] https://www.bad.org.uk/pils/zoons-balanitis/
4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3841663/

 

Amr

Amr

Amr Adel Helmy is a 29-year-old pharmacist who has established himself as an experienced medical content writer. He holds a bachelor's degree in pharmacy from the esteemed Faculty of Pharmacy at Alexandria University. Amr's passion for writing stemmed from his interest in healthcare, and he combined his knowledge of the medical field with his creative flair to become a proficient content writer. Throughout his career, Amr has worked on various projects, including medical articles, research papers, and informative blog posts for clients in the healthcare industry. He has a comprehensive understanding of medical terminology and can translate complex medical jargon into easily understandable language for the general public. Amr's dedication to his craft is reflected in the quality of his work, and his attention to detail ensures that each piece of content he writes is accurate, informative, and engaging. When he's not working, Amr enjoys reading about the latest advancements in healthcare and spending time with his loved ones.

Education

  • Bachelor of pharmacy from Alexandria university
  • 2012-2017

Work Experience

  • Pharmacist - Al Azaby Pharmacies 2012-2014
  • Pharmacist – Khalil Pharmacies 2014-present
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Written by Amr

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