What is Balanitis?
Balanitis refers to the inflammation of the glans or head of the penis, found on the end of the penis.
Often, the foreskin is also inflamed with the glans.
How do you know if you have Balanitis?
Well , The most common symptoms include:
- Redness, soreness or swelling at the end of the penis.
- It may be difficult or impossible to pull the foreskin back.
- Sometimes, there is pain or discomfort when passing urine.
What causes Balanitis?
There are many different causes of balanitis. Here are some of the key causes:
1.) Poor hygiene
Poor hygiene at the groin area, especially when combined with a tight foreskin, can lead to irritation by smegma.
Smegma is a cheese-like substance which forms under the foreskin, and on the glans. While this occurs naturally, the accumulation of the smegma under the foreskin will cause irritation when the smegma is not cleaned.
This is the most common cause of balanitis.
2.) Non Sexually Transmitted Infection (non-STI)
Another common cause of infection is from a yeast called candida. This is not sexually transmitted.
Candida is the same organism that causes vaginal thrush in women.
3.) Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) can occasionally cause balanitis.
For example, genital herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhoea may present with inflammation of the foreskin or glans.
4.) Allergy and irritants
The skin of the glans is sensitive.
The skin might have a reaction and become inflamed when it comes into contact with various chemicals or other substances.
- Certain soaps and disinfectants that you may use to clean the penis,
- Over-washing or scrubbing may also irritate the delicate skin of the glans,
- Condoms, spermicides, lubricants used when having sex can all irritate the glans.
In particular, if your diabetes is not well controlled and the urine contains high levels of sugar. Those drops of urine which contain sugar may remain behind the foreskin. This sugar causes direct inflammation and also allows fungal and bacterial organisms to multiply easily.
Video on Balanitis
Also Checkout: What are the 4 main causes of penis infection?
How is the doctor going to test you for balanitis?
Firstly, the doctor will examine your penis, carefully looking at the affected areas.
Next, your doctor may need to take a swab over your genitals to look for certain bacteria that can cause the infection. If an STI is a suspected cause, your doctor may also test you for STI.
If your doctor suspects that you have diabetes, a blood test would also be done.
Rarely, if the inflammation persists, removing a small sample of the inflamed skin tissue (a biopsy) may be suggested.
The sample can be taken to be looked at under the microscope. This can help to find the cause.
So how do we treat balanitis?
The treatment depends on the cause of the balanitis.
You would be given a cream to apply and/or a course of oral tablets such as anti-fungals or antibiotics.
You should avoid using soaps when inflammation is present and try to only use lukewarm water to clean your penis .
Prevention is always better than cure.
So ,tips which may help to prevent some cases of balanitis include:
1.) Wash the glans with water every day and remove smegma
2.) Make sure the penis, including the glans, is dry before you put on underpants.
3.) Use a condom each and every time you have sex with a new sexual partner
If symptoms are related to condom use – try using a condom which is designed for sensitive skin.
4.) Wash your hands before going to the toilet if you work with chemicals which can irritate delicate skin.