Balanitis is a condition characterized by swelling of the penile head in males. There is accompanying inflammation and swelling of the foreskin as well. The condition often affects uncircumcised male children 4 years old and below. It can also affect uncircumcised adult males.
There are several possible causes of balanitis. If left untreated, the condition may adversely affect overall health and could lead to a plethora of severe health problems.
If you think you or your child contracted balanitis, it is crucial to speak to a doctor right away. Mobidoctor physicians are here to help you discreetly, professionally, and privately.
Balanitis is often diagnosed after the appearance of a penile swelling. This main symptom makes it hard to retract the penis’ foreskin; a condition medically termed as phimosis.
Apart from swelling, several accompanying symptoms come with balanitis and phimosis:
• Itchiness and redness
• A sore feeling on the penis
• Painful urination
• Discharge that has a strong unpleasant smell underneath the foreskin
Tell your doctor the symptoms you’ve been experiencing so that he can either confirm or rule out a diagnosis of balanitis. All these symptoms described above could point out to another infection, so it’s best to get checked by a doctor to make sure you get an accurate balanitis diagnosis.
Here’s a list of the possible causes of your balanitis:
• Infection of either bacterial or fungal origin
• Improper hygiene and not enough washing of the penis
• Aggressive scrubbing during washing
• A skin reaction to antibiotics or other medications
• Latex allergy
• Skin irritation caused by shower gels or soaps used in the perineal area
• Diabetes complication
• Skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema
At times, balanitis may not have specific causes.
Then your doctor will diagnose you with nonspecific balanitis.
Diagnosis can be made through a physical inspection of the penis. Mobidoctor GPs can do this securely and confidentially through an online video consultation.
Your doctor will also base his diagnosis on your presenting signs, symptoms, and medical history. He can then prescribe treatment to clear up the infection.
You could be referred to a specialist if your doctor cannot diagnose the condition or pinpoint the exact cause. You can be screened for diabetes or a sexually transmitted infection, depending on your symptoms. You may also be checked further for additional skin conditions.
A skin swab taken from the affected area may be sent to a laboratory to reveal the underlying microorganisms that could have infected the penis and caused the balanitis condition.
It depends on the underlying condition.
Most cases of balanitis with poor hygiene as the cause will require lifestyle changes with regards to general perineal and penile hygiene. The condition usually clears up within days and is prevented by practising good hygienic habits.
Infections may be treated with the following remedies:
• Ointments for irritated skin
• Topical antibiotics or antifungals
• Oral antibiotic medications
• Steroid creams
Children with balanitis will benefit from regular cleaning of the perineal area, changing nappies frequently (if still not toilet-trained), and avoidance of harsh soaps and cleansers. Do not retract the foreskin to clean the penile head, because doing so may cause damage to your child. Seek your GP’s advice for more patient-specific information.
Some advice your doctor may give you to prevent contracting balanitis in the future include the following:
• Wash the penis daily with warm soap and water.
• Retract the penis’ foreskin to wash it as well.
• Completely dry the area after washing. Keep it as clean and dry as you can throughout the day.
• Use gentle soaps or shower gels.
• Practise safe sex.
• Use latex-free condoms if latex allergy is your problem.
• Do not use emollients and lubricants as much as possible.
• Regularly change nappies of kids who aren’t toilet-trained yet.
• Avoid products that could irritate the skin such as wet wipes with fragrances.
• Clean the penis without retracting the foreskin to avoid damage.
• Keep the perineal area and penis clean and dry as much as possible throughout the day.