Definition of Balanitis
Balanitis is an inflammation of the foreskin and head of the penis.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Balanitis is usually caused by poor hygiene in uncircumcised men. The inflammation can be due to infection, harsh soaps, or failure to properly rinse soap off while bathing. Several other diseases, including reactive arthritis and lichen sclerosis et atrophicus, can lead to balanitis. Men with uncontrolled diabetes are at risk of developing balanitis.
Signs and tests
Your dermatologist or urologist may be able to diagnosis the cause of your balanitis by examination alone. However, additional skin tests for viruses, fungi, or bacteria are often needed. Occasionally, a skin biopsy is required.
Treatment depends on the cause of the balanitis. For example, infectious balanitis may be treated with antibiotic pills or creams. Balanitis occurring with skin diseases may respond to steroid creams. In severe cases, circumcision may be the best option.
Most cases of balanitis can be controlled with medicated creams and good hygiene. Surgery is not usually necessary. Outcomes are nearly always positive.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; Louis S. Liou, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Urology, Department of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 9/22/2009