Balanitis : Causes, symptoms and treatments


Balanitis is a condition in which the glans or the head of the penis gets inflamed due to some kind of infection or some other cause. It is not a very threatening condition. However, it can cause quite a lot of pain and discomfort. The symptoms are usually relieved through the application of topical medications alone. It usually occurs among the uncircumcised men.


Balanitis is accompanied by

  • Tight and shiny skin on the head of the penis
  • Redness around the glans
  • Inflammation and irritation of the glans accompanied by itchiness and a sore feeling
  • Thick and lumpy discharge under the foreskin
  • The foreskin becomes so tight that it cannot be pulled back
  • Unpleasant smell
  • Pain during urination
  • Swollen glands near the penis
  • Appearance of sores on the head of the penis

The soreness and discharge usually come after 2 to 3 days of having had the sexual intercourse. Some of the signs and symptoms are also very much similar to those of a thrush or an STI.

Common causes of balanitis include

  • Practicing poor hygiene which leads to the buildup of smegma
  • Irritation under the foreskin caused after urination
  • Certain products such as soaps and shower gels that could possibly cause irritation of the skin
  • Thrush
  • Bacterial infection in and around the glans
  • It could also have been caused due to sexually transmitted infection
  • Other skin conditions existing in the body, such as eczema, psoriasis, and lichen sclerosis
  • Fiddling or constantly touching the foreskin


Balanitis is not a fatal condition and can be treated very easily. However, neglecting the condition can lead to some other complication such as

  • Scarring over the forehead of the penis
  • Inadequate blood flow to the penis
  • Retracting the foreskin due to which the penis becomes painful to touch

If the foreskin does not retract or there is much difficulty in doing so, it could be an indication of long term balanitis which has been left untreated for a significantly long period of time.


During treatment, the patient should use moisturizing creams and ointments and regularly clean his penis with lukewarm water. Salt baths could be helpful too. Usually, the treatment option is selected depending on the type of balanitis. The common methods used for treatment include

  • Application of anti yeast creams along with the consumption of oral tablets. This is done if the balanitis has been caused due to Candida
  • If it has been caused due to bacteria and STIs, it is necessary to take a course of antibiotics to clear off the infection
  • On having been caused due to allergies and irritants, mild steroid creams are applied to keep the condition under check. Steroid creams can also be used to contain inflammation caused by other factors.

If the foreskin has become so stiff, so as not to be pulled back, the topical and oral medication could provide but little help. Therefore, in this case, it is best to have the foreskin removed through circumcision.

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