Balanitis – Symptoms and Causes


Balanitis or penis inflammation is better known through its name balanoposthitis. This is inflammation of the head of the penis. When men are having this inflammation their foreskin is often affected. Foreskin is the skin that covers the penis. It is unpleasant and irritating serious inflammation. This disease can occur at any age, but mostly are affected the guys under four years of age and also adult men who haven’t been circumcised. It is happening 1 in every 25 boys and 1 in 30 uncircumcised males. This disease can be caused by infectious and noninfectious causes. This disease is more common in patients which their foreskin of the penis is too tight. [1,2,3]

Balanitis – Symptoms and Causes

Symptoms [1,2,3]:

  • White or red blotches or lumps may appear
  • In severe cases it may also be swollen
  • A foul-smelling discharge
  • The head of your penis is inflamed-red, sore and itchy
  • The glans may also look shiny or waxy
  • The penis’s fore-skin may become thickened and pale and stick to the glans
  • Painful urination
  • An unpleasant smell
  • Itchiness around the glans area
  • The soreness, irritation and discharge under the your penis’s foreskin typically occurs two to three days after you had a sexual intercourse

Causes of balanitis

  1. Skin conditions:
  • Eczema– this is chronic skin condition in which skin is becoming cracked, dry, itchy and reddened
  • Psoriasis– a scaly and dry skin disorder. This disease is believed to be genetic. If the skin cells are produced too quickly, this will result with psoriasis. [4]
  • Dermatitis-this is inflammation of the skin which is caused by allergic reaction or direct contact with an irritant [5]
  • Lichen planus– this is skin disease with itchy, small, purple or pink spots on the arms and legs.
  1. Irritation to the penis:
  • Some shower gels
  • Some fabric conditioners if they are not completely rinsed
  • Some perfumed soaps
  • Some chemicals that exist in condoms, lubricants and spermicides
  • Some detergents if they are not completely rinsed
  1. Infection: There are two types of infections that can cause you balanitis:
  • Bacteria– It can multiply rapidly in warm and moist conditions under the foreskin. If you are washing your penis daily and you are watching not to moisture the skin under the foreskin, it will help you to reduce the risk from this disease. But you should be informed well for the soaps that you are using, because some types of soaps can be a reason for balanitis.
  • Candida– Candida is a type fungus. It causes thrush. [2]
  1. Diabetes– Men which are having diabetes are having increased risk for balanitis. If the blood sugar is not treated regularly, it may cause balanitis. If glucose is found in your urine, some of the urine may remain on the foreskin. Glucose is reason for bacteria to multiply more quickly. [6]
  2. Phimosis– This is happening when the foreskin of the penis is too tight and is very difficult to pull it back. Urine, old sweat and other substances can accumulate under the foreskin which will cause you irritation and will allow to germs to multiply. This is very rare among teenage and adult males. [7]
  3. Unprotected sex– This is one of the biggest causes for balanitis. If the woman is having vaginal thrush, this easily can be reason for male infections in which the risk of foreskin to get balanitis is increasing.

Diagnosing balanitis: This disease is easy to diagnose. Your doctor can easily discover the balanitis if your foreskin is red. He or she can tell you to have regular hygiene and to give you the right medical treatment for it. Doctors should ask their patients about any latex condom use. Doctor should also carefully examine the skin for any dermatosis. If your condition is not improving when you have done all the treatment that your doctor asked you to do, then your doctor will ask you to make blood test, urine test, biopsy and a sample to be sure if your diseases is more serious than he has thought. In the most cases balanitis is easily treated with good hygiene, creams or ointments and avoiding the substances that irritate the penis. These treatments will have effects one week after you start using them. If you have the right treatment, you won’t see the same symptoms after you have done the treatment. If this is your case, then you should visit your doctor and talk seriously about the condition. You should avoid latex condoms, soaps, bubble bath. If you do not want to have balanitis, you should always keep hygiene on your penis. This means that you must wash your penis regularly every day with water. You should use condoms whenever you have sex and you should not share the sex toys to keep balanitis away from you.


[1] Pandya I, Shinojia M, Vadukul D, Marfatia YS. Approach to balanitis/balanoposthitis: Current guidelines. Indian Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS. 2014;35(2):155-7.

[2] Rajiah K, Veettil SK, Kumar S, Mathew EM. Study on various types of infections related to balanitis in circumcised or uncircumcised male and its causes, symptoms and management. African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 2012;6(2):74-83.

[3] Arunkumar S, Murugan S, Sowdhamani B, Sureshkumar R. Balanitis and Balanoposthitis – Review article. International Journal of Research in Health Sciences. 2014;2(1):375-92.

[4] Beck KM, Yang EJ, Sanchez IM, Liao W. Treatment of genital psoriasis: A systematic review. Dermatology and Therapy. 2018;8:509–25.

[5] Morris BJ, Krieger JN. Penile inflammatory skin disorders and the preventive role of circumcision. International Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2017;8:32.

[6] Huang CP, Lien CS, Lee SW, et al. Adult balanoposthitis patients have a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes mellitus: A nationwide population-based cohort study. 2018;29(1):55-60.

[7] Wollina U, Schönlebe J, Goldman A, et al. Simultaneous occurrence of balanoposthitis circumscripta plasmacellularis zoon, phimosis and in situ carcinoma of the penis: Case report with an unusual ulcerated polypoid variant of zoon’s disease and a carcinoma in situ of reserve cell type. Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences. 2018;6(1):61–3.


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