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punctuated balanitis


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What is it?

Redness, irritation and soreness of the head of the penis (the glans) is called balanitis. Some men also complain of a discharge under the foreskin which covers the penis. The foreskin may also be inflamed (called posthitis).

Is it common?

It is extremely common and is generally not serious though it can cause a great deal of concern to men and their partners.

Where does it come from?

There are a number of possible causes;

bulletPoor hygiene. The foreskin should be withdrawn and then the area can be gently washed. This should be done daily to stop matter building up which can cause inflammation.
bulletOver keen hygiene. Washing too hard under the foreskin or too frequently causes irritation.
bulletDermatitis is when the sensitive skin of the glans and foreskin becomes inflamed by the use of chemicals/products such as;

            - perfumed soaps and cosmetics

            - washing powders (biological) and fabric softeners

            - chemicals on hands transferred to penis when  touching it

            - condoms or their spermicidal lubricant

            - sweat/urine collecting under the foreskin

bulletInfection. Thrush (candida) is the most common cause here. This is a yeast germ that women often have though it is not easily passed on from women to men. The yeast germ however can collect under the foreskin. Other germs may also cause a balanitis.
bulletReaction to infection. An infection in a partner (male or female) may cause a balanitis in a man

Can it be treated successfully?

Yes if we can identify what is causing the problem.

bulletCheck for infection by taking swabs and examine the skin. Treatment may be given if needed. Partners may also be advised to attend if the balanitis is thought to be due to sexual activity.
bulletCare should be taken with hygiene. Hands should be washed before and after urinating.
bulletAvoid scented soaps and cosmetics
bulletAvoid biological powders/softeners for washing underwear.
bulletUse condoms without spermicidal lubricants. Non-oxynol-9 is usually the major culprit. Sensitol is better. Check with your local clinic health adviser on the more suitable brands available.

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