First the Facts

  • Balanitis is a condition which can cause inflammation of the end of the penis
  • The penis may appear red and feel sore
  • It is usually caused by poor hygiene, infection, allergy or skin irritants
  • Treatment is based on the underlying cause

What Causes Balanitis?

  • Possible causes of balanitis are:
    • A build-up of yeast infection, urine, sweat or other debris under the foreskin
    • An allergic reaction to a soap, washing powder or washing products
    • An allergy to condoms
    • Phimosis – a condition where the foreskin is tight and does not pull back over the glans
    • Sexually transmitted infection
  • It is common and can occur at any age. It is more common under 4 years of age, and in those who are uncircumcised.

How Will I Know If I Have Balanitis?

  • The penis will appear red and inflamed.
  • In some cases, the cause can be diagnosed by the appearance of the penis. For example, the inflammation caused by yeast build-up looks quite typical.

How Can I Protect Myself?

  • Washing the penis each day with water and a bland soap, this includes pulling the foreskin back whilst washing
  • Make sure the penis is dry before putting on underwear
  • Identifying and not using certain allergens or irritants will help in cases caused by allergy
  • Condom use can help to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Where and When Can I Get a Test?

  • If the doctor is not able to diagnose the cause of balanitis by the appearance of the penis, then a further test may be needed
  • A swab (small cotton bud) may be used to take a sample from the tip of the penis to test for bacteria or yeast
  • A test for diabetes may be needed if this underlying condition is suspected
  • An STI test might be needed (swab or urine test)
  • Rarely, a biopsy (a small sample of tissue) might be needed if the appearances are unusual or do not respond to treatment

What Happens If I Have Balanitis?

  • The following advice is relevant for balanitis regardless of the cause:
    • Avoid soap when inflammation is present
    • Emollients (moisturising cream or ointment) can be used to wash in place of soap
    • Use warm water to clean the penis and dry gently
  • Treatment is dependent on the underlying cause:
    • Yeast infection is treated by anti-yeast cream or tablets
    • Antibiotics are used if the cause is bacterial (including certain STIs)
    • A steroid cream can help reduce inflammation caused by allergies or irritants
  • In severe cases, or cases that do not respond to treatment, circumcision (surgical removal of the foreskin) might be recommended


Written by: Dr Nikki Kersey and Dr Paula Briggs
Last updated: January 2021

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surenderreddy 17.04.2024 at 12:29

Excellent health and early healthcare are essential to controlling balanitis effectively thank you for the info.