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Dr. Reynolds
Balanitis is inflammation or swelling of the foreskin and head of the penis. Dr. Jerman, what can you tell us about balanitis?

Dr. Jerman
Well, Dr. Reynolds, balanitis is most often caused by poor hygiene in uncircumcised men. Other possible causes include:

  • Infection
  • Harsh soaps
  • Not rinsing soap off properly
  • Uncontrolled diabetes, and
  • Other diseases, such as reactive arthritis, which causes swelling around the joints, eyes, and genitals, and lichen sclerosus, a chronic condition that causes thin, white patches of skin, usually in the genital area

In addition to swelling of the foreskin and head of the penis, other symptoms of balanitis can include:

  • Redness of the foreskin or head of the penis
  • Other rashes on the head of the penis
  • Foul-smelling discharge, and
  • Pain in the penis and foreskin

Treatment for balanitis depends on the cause. If inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotic creams or oral medications may be prescribed. Fungal infections may be treated with anti-fungal cream. Steroid creams may help balanitis that occurs with skin diseases. In severe cases, if the foreskin cannot be pulled back to be cleaned, circumcision may be necessary.