What is Balanitis?

Balanitis is a condition that affects the foreskin on the head of the penis. This condition can affect both men and boys, however it is more common in men and boys that have not been circumcised. Although it is not a serious condition, you should still go to see your GP, if you think that you or your son has balanitis.


Some of the more common symptoms include:

  • A sore, itchy, smelly penis

  • A build-up of thick fluid

  • Swelling and/or redness

  • Pain when urinating

Adults with balanitis can also experience phimosis; which is when the foreskin will not pull back.

Balanitis can be caused by a number of factors, which can include:

  • Build-up of smegma due to insufficient hygiene

  • Irritation from urine or soap

  • Thrush

  • A bacterial infection

  • Sexually transmitted infection

Your GP will usually be able to diagnose balanitis by just looking, and may suggest a treatment. If the symptoms do not improve within a week you may have to undergo further tests to see if there is an infection. You may also be referred to a dermatologist, urologist or sexual health specialist.

Most cases can be treated by good hygiene and use of ointments. If you have balanitis then you should try to clean your penis once a day with lukewarm water once a day, then towel dry them. Avoid using any scented soaps or bubble baths, try to use a gentle soap that is available at the pharmacy. Depending on the cause of the balanitis, your GP will supply you with an ointment. This can be:

  • Steroid cream- to help irritated skin

  • Anti-fungal cream – if there is a yeast infection

  • Antibiotic cream – if there is a bacterial infection

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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