Balanitis is an inflammatory condition that occurs at the end of the penis (the glans). The foreskin and prepuce can be inflamed or infected. It is mostly seen among boys who are uncircumcised, however can occur in circumcised boys. This inflammation can be the result of poor hygiene, infections, irritants such to soaps or detergents etc.
Prevalence and Course
Balanitis is quite common with 11% of adults that visit urologists having this condition whilst 3% of children experience this condition. As a whole the incidence is higher among uncircumcised boys. Balanitis is often acute and requires only antibiotic administration for treatment.
Balanitis is caused mostly by unhygienic conditions or in uncircumcised males. Other possible causes include:
- Infections caused by bacteria, viruses or other microorganisms
- Lichen sclerosus
- When soap is not properly rinsed off while bathing
- The use of irritant soaps
- In cases of uncontrolled diabetes
Symptoms may vary, but most of the time redness or a lesion is seen on the tip of the penis or on the lower side of the foreskin. There is a discharge together with itching, ulceration, blister formations, peeling, swelling and scabbing which leads to scar formation. A person may find it difficult to retract the foreskin due to pain or tenderness. There is generalized redness and swelling of the whole penis.
There are different types of inflammation of the glans penis these include:
Is also called Plasma Cell Balanitis or Balanitis Circumscripta Plasmacellularis (PCB) and is an idiopathic infection that is rare and is characterized by benign penile dermatosis. It is easily treated with circumcision. Other treatment options include the use of a carbon dioxide laser.
Another name for it is Balanitis Circinata which is characterized by a serpiginous annular dermatitis and is linked with Reiter’s syndrome.
Some other causes include Micaceous Balanitis and Pseudoepitheliomatous Keratotic.
When to See a Doctor?
You should see your doctor if you feel pain in the penis area along with discharge and redness so that a diagnosis and treatment may be identified for the condition.
Diagnosis is made on the basis of clinical presentation, a good history of the patient and a physical examination of the penis.
Laboratory investigations are done via swabs and cultures.
Sometimes a biopsy may be required, and histology will need to be done to rule out the etiology of this inflammation.
Since Balanitis is an inflammatory condition and most probably a result of an infection, antibiotics are given to help in its treatment. While creams or corticosteroids are also applied that resolve swelling and redness in penis area. If the causative agent is known, then treatment is given accordingly. The use of irritants should be avoided for further protection.
The risk factors for balanitis are unhygienic conditions of the body, a decreased immunity, the use of certain irritants which a person is allergic to, being an uncircumcised male and uncontrolled diabetes.
Good hygiene is essential since it can prevent the chance of developing balanitis. After taking a bath, do dry your foreskin and retract it.