What men should know about inflammation of the penis

Balanitis – an uncommon household word – is an inflammation or infection of the glans (head) of the penis, a very sensitive area of this male organ. If the condition occurs in men who still have their foreskin, it is called balanoposthitis. 

This condition affects about 3 to 11 percent of men and boys and is more likely seen in (1 in 25) boys age four or younger and (1 in 30) uncircumcised men. 

Circumcised men can also get balanitis, but at a much lower rate. In fact, circumcised men have a 68% lower risk of balanitis. However, they are more likely to contract circinate balanitis due to  reactive arthritis that may develop in response to an infection. Circinate balanitis can cause small sores or lesions on the penile head, along with inflammation and redness. 

Causes of balanitis

Poor hygiene is a common cause associated with balanitis, especially in men who are not circumcised. It can also occur more frequently in men who have difficulty pulling back the tight foreskin to keep the area clean. 

Other common causes may include:

  • Yeast infection
  • Irritation of the glans of the penis or an allergic reaction caused by soaps, lotions, scents, and spermicides
  • Sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes
  • Psoriasis in this area
  • Prolong elevated blood sugar levels from diabetes 
  • Medication side effects

Since young boys may not practice good hygiene habits, they have a higher risk of balanitis. In addition, men with uncontrolled diabetes can also develop balanitis since excess glucose or sugar promotes fungal growth. 

How might a man know if he has balanitis?

There are many symptoms associated with balanitis.  These symptoms may include the following:

  • Rash or redness
  • Swelling, irritation, or pain on the head of the penis
  • Bleeding around foreskin
  • Painful urination
  • Sore on the head of the penis
  • Itchiness
  • White discharge under the foreskin

It’s vital any male with these symptoms see their doctor right away. Symptoms that worsen can affect a man’s sex life and ability to urinate.

Treatment of balanitis

Treating balanitis requires a visit with a doctor who will perform a physical exam to assess whether it’s a bacterial or fungal infection. Balanitis caused by bacteria is treated with an antibiotic regimen or an antibiotic cream. An antifungal cream will be prescribed for balanitis caused by a fungal infection. 

If an allergic reaction causes balanitis, a steroid may be prescribed to clear it up.

Self-diagnosing is not recommended. It’s also best to keep the area clean and to avoid using scented soaps or lotions. 


Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911. 

What men should know about inflammation of the penis
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Dr. David B. Samadi

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Dr. David B. Samadi