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Inflammation of the Penis

(Balanitis; Posthitis; Balanoposthitis)

By Patrick J. Shenot, MD, Thomas Jefferson University

The foreskin of the penis and the glans penis (the cone-shaped end of the penis) can be inflamed.

  • Balanitis is inflammation of the glans penis.

  • Posthitis is inflammation of the foreskin.

  • Balanoposthitis is inflammation of both the glans penis and the foreskin.

Men who develop balanoposthitis have an increased chance of later developing phimosis or paraphimosis (problems related to the foreskin) and penile cancer.

Causes

Inflammation of the penis can be caused by infections, such as yeast infections, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and scabies. When secretions become trapped under the foreskin, they may become infected, leading to posthitis.

Noninfectious causes include skin disorders, including allergic reactions (for example, to a latex condom or to birth control liquids or gels), lichen planus, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and balanitis xerotica obliterans.

Balanoposthitis often begins with balanitis. It develops more often if

  • The foreskin is tight

  • The man has diabetes mellitus

Symptoms

Inflammation of the penis causes

  • Pain

  • Itching

  • Redness

  • Swelling

  • Discharge from underneath the foreskin

Often, the symptoms begin within two or three days after sexual intercourse. Sores on the penis and swollen lymph nodes in the groin can develop.

Diagnosis

  • A doctor's evaluation

Doctors usually diagnose penile inflammation by examining the penis and genital area. Doctors may ask about whether the man has used latex condoms.

Blood sugar may be measured to test for diabetes, and tests for yeast infections and STDs may be done.

Treatment

  • Good hygiene

  • Treatment of the cause of inflammation

  • Sometimes, circumcision

Sometimes doctors need to clean out the area under the foreskin and instruct the man about good hygiene. The cause of the inflammation is treated. Circumcision may be done if the foreskin remains too tight around the glans.

* This is the Consumer Version. *