What is Balanitis?
Balanitis is a condition that primarily arises among uncircumcised males. It involves the inflammation of the skin at the tip of the penis (i.e., the glans). It isn’t uncommon for the foreskin to also be inflamed while the glans is inflamed. The foreskin here refers to the loose skin that covers the glans and is present in uncircumcised penises.
Balanitis is a relatively common condition and can arise at any age. Ordinarily, males aged below 4 may suffer from it although it can arise among men who aren’t uncircumcised. When looking at statistics, one in 25 boys and one in 30 uncircumcised men experience balanitis at some point in their lives. The risks associated with contracting balanitis are higher for uncircumcised men.
Balanitis types include the following.
This involves the head of the penis and foreskin being inflamed. It ordinarily affects middle-aged and older men who aren’t circumcised.
Reactive arthritis may result in this.
Pseudoeptheliomatous keratotic and micaceous balanitis
This form of balanitis involves scaly warts on the head of the penis.
What are the Symptoms of Balanitis?
The most common Balanitis symptoms have been examined below.
The glans experiences redness.
The glans is a source of irritation and is sore.
Redness can affect only a portion of the skin surface of the glans or can adversely affect the entire glans which then becomes red, painful and swollen.
A thick clumpy discharge can be emitted from under the foreskin.
Foreskin may feel as though it’s impossible to push back and males may experience discomfort or pain when urinating.
What are the Causes of Balanitis?
Balanitis causes are several and the more prominent of these have been examined below.
Tight foreskin along with poor hygiene around this region can give rise to irritation caused by smegma. Smegma refers to the substance formed under the foreskin if the end of the penis isn’t thoroughly cleaned. This is the main cause of balanitis.
Not sexually transmitted infections
A wide range of germs and bacteria that live on skin can multiply and lead to infection. A common yeast infection that arises is candida, which gives rise to balanitis. An infection of the glans is more likely if you have diabetes, phimosis or are already suffering from some form of inflammation of the penis.
Sexually transmitted infections
Certain sexually transmitted infections (or STIs) can on occasion give rise to balanitis. These STIs include genital herpes, gonorrhoea and chlamydia.
Allergic reaction and irritants
If certain chemicals and other substances are brought into contact with the sensitive skin of the glans, they can cause it to react and become inflamed. Latex condoms, certain washing powders, soaps and disinfectants may all irritate this region.
Risk factors For Balanitis
The following factors pose a risk and can lead to a male developing balanitis.
Diabetes (especially if uncontrolled)
Lack of good hygiene
Nursing home environment
Presence of foreskin
Sensitivity to chemical irritants like soaps and lubricants
Sexually transmitted infections
Diagnosis of Balanitis
Doctors can diagnose balanitis with ease once they see the affected penis whose glans appear red and inflamed.
In certain instances, the cause can be determined based on how the inflammation appears. Take for instance inflammation caused by candida which appears a certain way.
A doctor may take a small sample with the aid of a swab. This sample is used to check whether the area has certain germs or bacteria that can lead to an infection.
A doctor may recommend the male to get tested for diabetes if they suspect that it caused it.
Genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic –
A referral may be provided to such a clinic in case an STI is suspected to be the cause.
Complications in Balanitis
Although Balanitis is relatively easy to treat, there still exist chances of complications arising in certain scenarios. These complications include the following.
This is visible at the opening of the penis.
Poor blood supply –
It is possible for there to be inadequate blood supply to this region.
The process of retracting the foreskin can be painful.
The foreskin that is not capable of being pushed back can be due to balanitis not being treated for a long period of time. The sooner treatment is sought the superior the outcome.
Treatment for balanitis varies in accordance with what caused it to arise. Ordinarily, doctors make clear what substances ought to be avoided and provide them with information on maintaining good hygiene.
Balanitis ointment / steroid cream
In the event that balanitis arises due to an allergic reaction or irritant, a doctor may recommend a mild steroid cream.
Antifungal cream for balanitis / antibiotic medication
Inflammation may also prompt doctors to prescribe antifungal or antibiotic medication that is available over the counter.
A doctor may recommend the patient see a dermatologist in the event that no infection or irritant is identified.
In the event the balanitis continues to recur, and the patient has a tight foreskin, the doctor may recommend they get a circumcision.
Home Remedies for Balanitis
There aren’t any concrete balanitis home remedies barring good hygiene. Incorporate the following suggestions.
Clean the penis on a daily basis.
Abstain from using soap, bubble baths or anything that could irritate the sensitive skin.
After urinating, always dry the area under the foreskin with care.
As opposed to using soap, using an emollient to clean the area is a better alternative.
Here Are Some Tips to Prevent Balanitis
In order to prevent balanitis from arising it is important to practice good hygiene. Consider following the tips mentioned below in order to prevent it from arising.
Bathe on a regular basis.
Pull back the foreskin and always clean underneath it.
Make sure you use a condom each time you have sex in order to not contract a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to balanitis.
If you think you are experiencing symptoms associated with balanitis, visit a healthcare provider who can test you for infection and can recommend proper hygiene measures. It is important to invest in a good health insurance plan as it could help you cover the costs associated with availing of medical services in the event that you fall sick.