Balanitis is irritation of the head of the penis. It is more common in men who have not been circumcised. The warm, moist conditions under the foreskin that covers the head of the penis can cause the growth of bacteria or a fungus. This can make the penis sore, red, swollen, and itchy. You may also feel burning when you urinate, have pus come from your penis, or have chills and a fever.
Balanitis can also be caused by the chemicals in soap, condoms, or lubricants. Men with diabetes are more likely to get balanitis.
Your doctor may suggest a cream that usually clears balanitis within 2 weeks. You can prevent balanitis by keeping your penis clean and not using products that cause irritation.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It’s also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
How can you care for yourself at home?
Take your medicine exactly as prescribed. If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
Keep your penis clean. If you have not been circumcised, gently pull the foreskin back and wash your penis with a mild soap and water. Make sure your penis is dry before you get dressed.
If latex condoms irritate your penis, try other condoms that are made for sensitive skin. Your doctor can help you make a good choice.
Wash your underwear with mild soap and rinse well.
If you work with harsh chemicals, wash your hands well before you go to the bathroom.
When should you call for help?
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
You have a fever or chills.
You have pus or other discharge coming from your penis.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.
Care instructions adapted under license by Kaiser Permanente. This care instruction is for use with your licensed healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.