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Balanitis (Penis Disorder)

Dr. Sahana K P

Dr. Sahana K P

  Basaveshwara nagar, Bengaluru     Feb 14, 2017

   4 min     


What is Balanitis?

It is a swelling or inflammation of the glands, foreskin or head of the penis due to infection or another cause. It can be a bit uncomfortable, and sometimes painful but often isn't that serious.

Balanitis largely occurs in uncircumcised men and is a common condition that affects approximately 1 in 25 boys and 1 in 30 uncircumcised males at least some time in their life. 

Types of Balanitis

1. Zoon's Balanitis: An inflammation of the head of the penis and the foreskin. Usually, after middle-aged to older men who have not been circumcised. 

2. Circinate Balanitis: Normally occur as a result of reactive arthritis. 

3. Pseudoepitheliomatous Keratotic and Micaceous Balanitis: Characterised by scaly, skin lesions on the head of the penis. 

What causes Balanitis?

It can be caused when the area under the foreskin is not washed regularly, and bacteria, skin and sweat accumulate. Diabetes mellitus can also increase the risk of balanitis. Allergies to certain chemicals can cause allergic balanitis. 

This could be chemicals in soaps or other products in touch with the glans of the penis. Yeast infection can cause balanitis. It can be caused by STIs. 

Symptoms of Balanitis

  • Tight, shiny skin on the glans

  • The tight foreskin that cannot be pulled back

  • Redness or mild swelling, itching, rash, soreness, and irritation or pain around the penis. 

  • A thick, lumpy discharge under the foreskin

  • An unpleasant smell

  • Swollen glands near the penis

  • Painful urination

Note: Irritation, soreness, and discharge may even occur under the foreskin 2 to 3 days after the patient has sexual intercourse.

Diagnosis of Balanitis

It is diagnosed by physical examination. If a patient has a discharge, a doctor may take a sample of it or collect a urine sample. If the cause of balanitis is a chronic skin condition, a doctor may perform a biopsy. Serum glucose test to screen for diabetes. 

Treatment of Balanitis

Treatment for Balanitis depends on the cause of the condition. If it is a hygiene issue, daily habits are changed. If there is an infection, antifungal medication is given. 

Steroid creams can relieve balanitis caused by skin disease. Some of the treatments on the basis of the cause are:

  • Allergic reaction- If the infection or inflammation appears to be because of an irritant or allergic reaction, the doctor may prescribe you a mild steroid cream, such as 1% hydrocortisone, to treat the swelling.
    Antibiotic medication or antifungal may also be prescribed to ease the irritation. However, If there is an infection, the patient should not use a steroid cream without prescription, on its own. Soaps and other potential irritants should also be avoided during treatment, and until the signs and symptoms have completely vanished.

  • Candida- Candida is a kind of yeast infection. If the infection is caused due to a yeast infection, then the doctor may prescribe you an antifungal cream like miconazole or clotrimazole.
    In certain cases, the patient's sex partner may also need treatment. While treatment is ongoing, he should either use a condom or abstain from sex.

  • Bacterial infection- If balanitis is caused due to a bacterial infection, the doctor generally prescribes antibiotics, such as penicillin or erythromycin.
    However, in case no irritant and no infection has been identified, the doctor may refer the patient to a genitourinary clinic or a dermatologist, specialising in skin conditions.

  • Recurrence- If the balanitis keeps coming back and the patient has a tight foreskin, the doctor might suggest going for circumcision.
    Alternatively, a slit may be cut along the top of the foreskin to separate it from the penis.
    Taking sitz bath may also be helpful to minimise the symptoms, as the warm water can reduce discomfort.

Complications of Balanitis

Although balanitis often is easy to treat, complications may occur in certain cases. These cases may include:

  • Scarring of the opening of the penis

  • Retracting the foreskin is painful

  • Inadequate blood supply to the penis

A foreskin that does not retract normally can be the result of long-term, untreated balanitis. In the case of Balanitis, the earlier treatment is sought, the better the outlook will be.

Prevention of Balanitis

  • Avoiding harsh soaps and other skin irritants 

  • Using soap substitutes, such as an emollient. 

  • Practising safe sex to avoid an STI 

  • Completely dry the penis after the shower

Balanitis vs Balanoposthitis vs Phimosis

Balanitis is often mistaken with two similar conditions Balanoposthitis and Phimosis since all the tree conditions affect the penis. The major difference between the three of them is:

  • Balanitis is inflammation of the head of the penis.

  • Phimosis is a condition that makes it difficult to retract the foreskin.

  • Balanoposthitis is inflammation of both the penis head and the foreskin.

Phimosis can easily occur alongside either balanoposthitis or balanitis. In certain cases, it acts as both a cause and a symptom. For instance, having phimosis can make it easier to develop irritation of the foreskin and glans. Once this irritation occurs, symptoms such as pain and swelling may make it more difficult to retract the foreskin.

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Tags:  Sexual health ,Sexual Health- Female and Male ,General Health ,Men's Health,Balanitis

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