Balanitis: Foreskin Penis Infection


What is Balanitis?

Balanitis is an inflammation of the end of the penis (the glans).

Often the foreskin is also inflamed at the same time as 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 (the glans).

It may be impossible to pull the foreskin back.

You may also have pain or discomfort when passing urine.

But, what causes Balanitis?

There are many different causes of balanitis

1.) Poor hygiene

Poor hygiene around this area, especially with a tight foreskin, can lead to irritation by smegma.

Smegma is a cheesy-like substance which forms under the foreskin if the glans under the foreskin is not cleaned.

This is the most common cause of balanitis.

2.) Non Sexually Transmitted Infection (non-STI)

A common cause of infection is with a yeast called candida- which is not sexually transmitted.

Candida is the same germ 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.

4.) Allergy and irritants

The skin of the glans is sensitive.

It may ‘react’ and become inflamed if it comes into contact with various chemicals or other substances.

For example:

  • 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.

5.) Diabetes

In particular, if your diabetes is not well controlled and the urine contains sugar.

After going to the toilet, drops of urine which contain sugar may remain behind the foreskin.

This would allow germs to multiply easily.

Video on Balanitis

Also Checkout: What are the 4 main causes of penis infection

So, how is the doctor going to test you for balanitis?

Firstly, the doctor will examine your penis to carefully look at the affected areas.

After, your doctor may need to take a swab over your genitals to look for certain bacteria that can cause the infection.

If STI is a suspected cause, your doctor may 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 fungal or antibiotics.

You should avoid using soaps when inflammation is present and only use lukewarm water to clean your penis .

If you have recurring balanitis and have a condition where the foreskin does not pull back over the glans (phimosis), an option is to be circumcised to remove the foreskin.


Prevention is always better than cure.

So ,tips which may help to prevent some cases of balanitis include:


1.) Wash the glans everyday.

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.