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;
|Poor 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 The foreskin should be withdrawn and then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.
|Over keen hygiene. Washing too hard under the foreskin
or too frequently causes irritation.
|Dermatitis is when the sensitive skin of the glans and
foreskin becomes inflamed by the use of chemicals/products such as;
- perfumed soaps and
- washing powders
(biological) and fabric softeners
- chemicals on hands
transferred to penis when touching it
- condoms or their
collecting under the foreskin
|Infection. 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.
|Reaction 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.
|Check 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
|Care should be taken with hygiene. Hands should be
washed before and after urinating.
|Avoid scented soaps and cosmetics
|Avoid biological powders/softeners for washing
|Use 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