Balanitis is a type of swelling that occurs on the soft skin found on the tip of the penis. The skin surrounding the head of the penis develops swelling. Balanitis can develop due to infection or skin irritation and sometimes due to skin problems in men. It can occur on any man irrespective of his age. The glans(penis) is covered by loose skin which develops inflammation gradually. The chance of developing balanitis is more if you are not done with circumcision. Balanitis is also known as Balanoposthitis.
Balanitis is marked by swelling of loose skin located on the head of penis. It can cause irritation and redness at the end of penis. For severe infection foul smelling thick discharge comes out of the foreskin. The tip of the penis becomes sore and painful. For some men, it can cause pain while urinating and it becomes difficult to pull the foreskin back due to inflammation.
Balanitis Causes :
Some of the major causes of balanitis are listed below:
- Improper Hygiene :
Poor hygiene is the major cause for getting balanitis. It occurs commonly in uncircumcised men who are maintaining poor hygiene in private parts. Some men may not clean the penis properly after passing urine which leads to the formation of cheese like substance on the tip of penis.
- Infection :
Due to poor hygiene there is high risk of developing bacterial infection on the penis. Bacteria that live on the skin would grow and multiply in large numbers if the part is not kept dry and clean. Balanitis can develop due to Candida infection in men. Infection is more likely to occur if the person is diabetic or if he has already some sort of inflammation on the area. A condition called phimosis is quite common in young boys (5-7 years) in which the foreskin that envelops the penis would not retract easily causing irritation and soreness.
- Sexually Transmitted infection :
Balanitis can develop due to sexually transmitted diseases if a man enjoys sex with infected female. Many types of sexual infections like genital herpes infection, Chlamydia infection and gonorrhea can cause balanitis.
- Allergy :
The skin found in genitals is so soft and sensitive that it develops inflammation due to chemicals. Acidity present in the urine can cause allergy and irritation on the shaft that surrounds the penis. Sweating can also cause irritation and allergy leading to inflammation. Using harsh soaps on your penis can cause irritation leading to balanitis.
Some men are obsessed with repeated washing of penis which can disturb the soft skin causing balanitis. Using lubricated and scented condoms can cause irritation on the penis. Sometimes even washing powders of harsh chemicals can affect the under garments of men and wearing them can cause allergy.
- Skin Problems :
Certain kinds of skin conditions like psoriasis can cause irritation on the penis leading to balanitis.
Your doctor can detect balanitis by mere physical exam of the penis. He would look for redness, soreness and inflammation on the tip of penis. He may order for various tests to rule out bacterial infection or sexually transmitted infection. If unsure, he may do a biopsy of the inflamed skin of the penis by taking a small tissue sample to test it on the lab. He may also for blood test to rule out diabetes.
Once you have developed redness and swelling on the tip of penis avoid washing it with soaps. Use a gentle moisturizing cream or emollients on the area. Using lukewarm water for cleaning the penis helps in reducing inflammation. Your doctor would start the treatment after finding the root cause of balanitis. In case of bacterial infection antibiotic creams are prescribed.
For treating infection caused by sexual transmission, suitable antibiotics and steroid creams are given. For Candida infection, anti-fungal ointment is prescribed. In case there is the condition of phimosis, where the foreskin do not gets retracted, then your doctor will have to decide on circumcision.
Balanitis Home Remedies :
- Always keep the penis dry and clean. Pull out the foreskin from the penis gently and use lukewarm water or just water for cleaning the penis.
- Change your underpants twice a day to keep the area moisture free.
- Wash your hands before using the toilet in case you are handling chemicals or detergents.
- Avoid using perfumed condom since it can increase the allergy causing irritation. With proper hygiene and medications balanitis can easily be controlled.
In severe cases balanitis is left untreated for long periods; it can cause complications like phimosis and scarring on the tip of penis.