Balanitis

Basic Information

What is Balanitis?

Inflammation of the glans (head) of the penis and sometimes the foreskin as well. It is usually associated with an unretractable foreskin of an uncircumcised male.

Frequent signs and symptoms

  • Pain, redness, itching and swelling of the head of the penis.
  • Inflammation of the foreskin.
  • Ulceration of the penis.
  • Enlarged lymph glands in the groin.
  • Chills and fever (rare).
  • Discharge from the penis (rare).
  • Burning on urination (rare).

Causes

  • Infection from bacteria (Borrelia vincentii, streptococci) or fungus (Candida albicans).
  • Allergy to chemicals in clothing, contraceptive cream, and condom latex.
  • Reaction to certain medications.
  • Tight foreskin.

Risk increases with

  • Poor hygiene.
  • Trauma or minor injury to the foreskin and penis.
  • Presence of foreskin.
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Sexual partner affected by candidal vaginitis.

Preventive measures

  • Have male infants circumcised.
  • Wash daily with soap and water, especially after sexual intercourse. Cleanse under the foreskin.
  • Avoid any allergens.
  • Use a condom during intercourse.

Expected outcomes

Usually curable in 1 to 2 weeks with medical treatment.

Possible complications

Treatment of Balanitis

General measures

  • Laboratory culture of the discharge from the infected area may be recommended.
  • Use warm-water soaks to relieve pain.
  • Surgery to circumcise the penis, if balanitis recurs frequently or scar tissue develops.

Medications

  • Steroid creams to control swelling.
  • Topical or oral antibiotics to fight infection.
  • Aspirin or acetaminophen to relieve minor pain and fever.

Activity

  • Rest in bed if you have fever.
  • Avoid sexual intercourse during treatment.
  • Resume your normal activities when the infection is cured.

Diet

No special diet.

Notify your physician if

  • You or a family member has symptoms of balanitis.
  • Symptoms don't improve in 3 days, despite treatment.
  • Balanitis can recur. Consider circumcision.

Last updated 7 August 2011


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