Balanitis is a condition when the head of the penis (glans) is inflamed. This can be due to different reasons such as tight foreskin (phimosis), infection or even due to irritation of the penis glans. This is not a severe problem but if ignored, this can turn out to be a problem. Kids under the age of 5 may have this problem due to tight foreskin (phimosis) but after 5 to 6 years of age, the issue usually resolves on it’s own. If not, you will have to see a good sexologist near you as early as possible.
What are the causes of balanitis?
- Allergic reaction – The head of the penis, when comes into contact with irritants such as the material of your inner wear, chemicals in your soap, shampoo or the chemicals used in the condom that you have recently used, it may swell and cause this condition.
- Yeast Infection – Candida is a yeast infection. The head of the penis can get infected due to improper hygiene.
- Bacterial Infection – If you are not taking good care of your penis such as washing regularly after having sex, cleaning the penis and the glans by pulling the skin backwards when taking bath, bacteria can develop in that area and can cause balanitis.
- Sexually Transmitted Infections – Unprotected sex with an infected partner can also cause Balanitis. (Herpes Simplex Virus, Chlamydia, Syphilis)
- Skin diseases – Certain skin diseases like Lichen Planus, Eczema, Psoriasis can lead to the inflammation of penis glans. In very few cases, skin cancer can also cause balanitis.
- Diabetes – If you are suffering from diabetes, your urine will have more sugar than a normal person’s urine. If the sugars in the urine gets deposited on the glans or just behind it (because of improper cleaning), it can harbour the growth of bacteria and result in balanitis.
- Phimosis – If the foreskin is too tight to retract, sweat, urine and other substances can get trapped under the skin and on the glans leading to infection and inflammation.
Symptoms of balanitis
- Redness and swelling around the glans
- Soreness, itching or irritation of the head of penis
- A possible thick discharge from under the skin on the penis.
- There may be foul smell too if the infection gets worse.
- Painful urination
- Sores on the glans
Diagnosis of Balanitis
It would be obvious for a good sexologist to know the problem just by taking a look at the swollen glans of your penis. He/she may try to assess the cause of the condition. He/She may pose questions about the creams, chemicals that you use to take bath or if you have used any condom in the recent past etc. If the cause of the problem is found to be obvious, he/she may advise you to change the material of your inner wear, apply steroidal creams and maintain good hygiene.
In cases, when none of these help, then the reason could be an infection. In order to determine the type of infection, swab test may be required where the material on the glans will be collected and sent for testing. Urine and blood tests may also be required to check the sugar levels in your blood and urine. In very rare cases, if the sexologist suspects cancer of the skin, a biopsy may also be done.
Types of balanitis
There are three types of balanitis:
- Zoon’s balanitis – Inflammation of the head of the penis and the foreskin. Typically middle aged men to older men gets affected with this condition.
- Circinate Balanitis – Usually seen in people with reactive ‘arthritis’.
- Pseudoepitheliomatous karatotic and micaceous balanitis – a scaly, wart like skin lesions on the penis head.
Are there any home remedies for balanitis?
If you can recall that you are facing the problem after you have changed your inner wear or after you have changed your soap, body wash, shampoo etc, you can immediately change them to get relief. You also need to maintain very good hygiene of your private parts as much as you take care of your face and rest of the body. However, in many cases, these may not be of real help because of the other factors that cause balanitis.
- As said earlier, allergic reactions can be treated if the reason for the problem is known easily.
- In case of fungal or yeast or bacterial infection – appropriate antibiotics will be prescribed to bring down the infection. Along with this, proper cleaning of the penis is important.
- If balanitis is recurring because of the tight foreskin problem (phimosis), circumcision will offer permanent help for the problem. Alternatively, a small slit will be made along the top of the foreskin to separate it from the penis.
If you are suffering from this problem, it is advisable to take an appointment with good sexologist and go for a consultation. In many cases, simple medication or creams will be good enough to get rid of the problem but there may be other underlying causes of the problem that your doctor may find out.