Balanitis is a condition that’s characterized by swelling of the head of the penis, commonly known as the glans. When it occurs in uncircumcised men, it is referred to as balanoposthitis. Balanitis and balanoposthitis cause redness and a rash on the glans and inside the foreskin. In some instances, there can be a foul odor as well.
While balanitis is a sexual health condition, it is not a sexually transmitted infection. Some of its causes include:
- Candida, a fungus infection
- Bacterial infection
- Skin conditions such as eczema
- Certain antibiotics such as penicillin
- Exposure to sexually transmitted diseases
Not every male is at risk of contracting balanitis. However, the risk is high if you fall under any of the following categories:
- You aren’t circumcised
- You have diabetes
- You are overweight
- You have poor personal hygiene
Balanitis is not a severe condition like STIs, but it causes discomfort if it is not treated. You may feel itchy and experience pain when urinating. If you are sexually active, the problem can even make sex uncomfortable.
That’s why you need to seek immediate treatment. Treatment for balanitis and balanoposthitis depends on the cause of the problem. Below are some of the treatment options that you can consider:
When balanitis caused by a skin condition such as an allergic reaction, eczema or psoriasis, the doctor will recommend topical ointments to cure the disease.
These are usually steroid ointments that should be applied on the glans every day for around two weeks.
The lotions treat the underlying skin condition. However, most of these creams cause skin thinning when used for an extended period. Accordingly, if you are not healed after two weeks, your doctor may recommend a different form of treatment.
Balanitis that’s caused by a fungal infection (Candida) is best treated using an antifungal cream or tablet depending on your preference.
Like the ointments, the antifungal medication is usually used for around two weeks. Within this period, the drug should have cleared the fungal infection and restored your glans to complete health.
When a bacterial infection is the cause of balanitis, your doctor will recommend antibiotic treatment that should be taken until the infection clears. Some of the most common antibiotics used are erythromycin or penicillin.
However, before administering antibiotics, the doctor will conduct other checks to ascertain that a fungal infection or an underlying skin condition isn’t the cause of balanitis.
Individuals who suffer from balanoposthitis and are not circumcised may find that the condition keeps on recurring despite seeking professional help. This problem can be associated with the difficulty to maintain cleanliness inside the foreskin.
Research shows that prevalence of balanitis in circumcised men is 68% lower when compared to uncircumcised men. If the doctor administers treatment and the problem recurs, they may recommend circumcision. Getting rid of the foreskin can make hygiene simpler and keep off balanitis.
How to Prevent Balanitis
There are several measures that you can take to keep this condition at bay and maintain good reproductive health. First, watch your hygiene. Clean the penis gently but thoroughly on a daily basis. If you have the foreskin, make sure you retract it during cleaning to get rid of all the dirt that hides inside.
Dry the glans properly before returning the foreskin.
Further, avoid soaps that can cause an allergic reaction on the skin. Avoid other irritants such as latex condoms, lubricants, and creams, especially if your penis is allergic to them.
However, since it exhibits STI-related symptoms such as itching and discharge, you should get checked by a doctor, especially if you are sexually active. The doctor will identify the cause of the condition and administer the appropriate treatment.