What is Balanitis?

What’s this?

Balanitis is a skin infection or swelling on the penis head (gills). In men who are not circumcised, the area is covered by a skin flap called the skin or the prepuce. Balanitis can be found in both circumcised and uncircumcised men, though it is more common in men who have not been circumcised. Young boys are usually only affected when they have very hard skin that is difficult to pull back.

Various infections and skin conditions can cause bronchitis. These include:

  • Infection with yeast (candida) or bacteria that live on the skin (the most common cause)
  • Sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes simplex
  • Skin irritation with soap, soap or spermicidal jelly
  • Skin conditions such as psoriasis
  • Some types of skin cancer (rare)

Although anyone can develop balanitis, it is most commonly found in men whose skin is hard to pull back, or whose hygiene is poor. Diabetes can make pancreatitis more likely, especially if blood sugar is inappropriately controlled. High blood sugar causes high levels of sugar in the urine. Sugar-rich urine that shines and sticks under the skin provides a friendly environment for yeast and bacteria. Also, people with poor control of diabetes have a hard time-fighting infection.

When the bullfights are frequent, it can be due to a yeast infection that moves back and forth between partners during sexual contact.


Symptoms include:

  • A red, inflammatory scar on the head and shaft of the penis or under the skin
  • Itching or burning in the affected area
  • A white, discolored or yellowish substance from the affected skin or under the skin


Your doctor can usually diagnose balanitis immediately. Occasionally, skin swabs or abrasions may be inspected under the microscope or may be sent to the laboratory for further evaluation to confirm the diagnosis.

When balanitis does not respond to treatment or looks different from a common infection, your doctor may suggest you see a dermatologist or a skin biopsy. In the biopsy, a small piece of skin is removed and examined in the laboratory. This is done to determine if you have an unusual type of infection or other skin condition that is causing your symptoms.

Expected duration

Most cases of balanitis respond to treatment within three to five days.


Men who are uncircumcised should exercise good hygiene, including having the skin completely withdrawn during the bath. Diabetes sufferers can help prevent bronchitis by carefully controlling their blood sugar.


Treatment depends on the cause.

If your problem is caused by a yeast infection, you are advised to use anti-fungal cream. Clotrimazole (Luterman, Michaellex) is an effective anti-inflammatory drug, also used for treating vaginal yeast infections and athlete’s foot. Apply it two to three times daily in the affected area for 10 days. Your doctor may also recommend a prescription anti-fungal treatment, whether in the form of a cream or pill.

If you are infected with skin bacteria, you will be asked to use antibiotic cream, and make sure you thoroughly cleanse the area. Occasionally antibiotic pills may also be necessary.

When there is inflammation in the skin, but no infection, you will be advised to keep the area clean and avoid any soap or skin lotion that may be exacerbating the condition. Sometimes a cortisone cream can help fix the problem faster. However, cortisone can worsen certain infections, so it is best to avoid this type of drug unless prescribed by a physician.

Circumcision often avoids recurrent infections, especially in non-men who have hard, hard-to-retract skin. Once effective treatment is started, you generally do not need to avoid having sex, though sexual contact can spread to the affected area. Rarely, sexually transmitted infections can occur between partners. If this happens, both partners may need treatment at the same time to prevent further episodes.

When to Call a Professional

Contact your physician if:

  • You have developed blight that does not work with hygiene measures and anti-fungal medicines
  • Your physician prescription does not correct your condition
  • Balanitis keeps coming back
  • You are diabetic, because balanitis may signal that your blood sugar is not well controlled.


The outlook is best if the problem is treated.

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