Causes of Penis Infection (Balanitis)
Balanitis (Penile Infection) is a common infection that affects the head of the penis and the foreskin. It is more commonly seen in boys and men who are not circumcised.
Common Symptoms of the infection of the Penis include:
- a sore, itchy and smelly penis
- redness and swelling
- build-up of thick fluid around your penis
- pain when peeing
Some adults may also have tight foreskin that is unable to be fully retracted. This is called phimosis and can increase risk of balanitis.
Causes of Balanitis (Infection of the Penis)
Balanitis can be caused by the following:
- poor hygiene. This can lead to a build-up of Smegma is a buildup of dead skin cells, oil, and other fluids on the tip of the penis. The buildup can grow over time, and if it’s not taken care of, it can lead to painful side effects.
Smegma has several distinct characteristics:
- thick, cheese-like consistency
- white in color (can be darker depending on natural skin tone)
- unpleasant smell
If left for prolonged periods it can lead to balanitis.
- irritation under the foreskin caused by urine
- soaps, shower gels, and other skin irritants
- Thrush – this is caused by Candida. Will require antifungal treatment
- a bacterial infection – You will need to see a doctor and get treated with antibiotics.
- a sexually transmitted infection (STI) – usually occurs days or weeks after unprotected oral, anal or vaginal intercourse. Will need to see a doctor and get treated with the right antibiotics.
- skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, and lichen sclerosus
When to see a doctor
You should see your doctor if you have persistent swelling, redness or irritation. Or if you have other accompanying symptoms like penile discharge or painful urination.
Most cases of balanitis are easily treated with good hygiene and creams and ointments recommended by your GP.
If you have balanitis, you should clean your penis daily with lukewarm water and gently dry it.
- Don’t use soap, bubble bath, shampoo or any other potential irritant.
- Dry gently under the foreskin after peeing.
- Try a soap substitute like an emollient, available from a pharmacy.
2.) Creams and ointments
Depending on what’s causing the balanitis, your GP may recommend creams or ointments, such as:
- steroid cream or ointmentfor a simple skin irritation
- antifungal cream or tabletsfor a yeast infection
- antibioticsfor a bacterial infection
Circumcision may be advised in recurrent cases of balanitis
Sex and balanitis
You can have sex during treatment if your balanitis isn’t caused by an infection.
But if it’s caused by an infection, like an STI or thrush, there’s a risk of passing this on.
How to Preventing balanitis
You can reduce your chances of getting balanitis by:
- keeping your penis clean
- avoiding harsh soaps and other skin irritants
- using soap substitutes, such as an emollient
- practising safe sex to avoid an STI
- using latex-free condoms if you have a latex allergy
Do consult any of our doctors if you are ever unsure of your symptoms so that we can do a proper examination and also to perform any lab tests if necessary.
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