Balanitis is inflammation of the sensitive end of the penis called glans penis. Glans penis of men is structurally correspondent to the clitoral glans of women. It is caused by substances in the environment, by a bacterial or viral infection or by physical trauma and is more common among boys under four years of age and among uncircumcised adult men who need to retract the foreskin on the head of the penis. However, some researchers claim that the excessive hygiene of genitals may also cause balanitis. Another cause of balanitis is phimosis, or too tight foreskin, as well as diabetes type 1. It is possible that both glans and foreskin become inflamed, and that situation is called balanoposthitis. Balanitis can occur at any age, even among boys in diapers, but most often it develops among boys under four years of age and adults who are not circumcised.
Symptoms of balanitis include redness of the glans, inflammation of the glans, soreness to touch, irritation, foul smelling discharge, rash on the head of the penis followed by itchiness, phimosis and excruciating pain while urinating.
Pain, itchiness and discharge from the penis usually occur a couple of days after a man has had sexual intercourse. Some of these symptoms are similar to the symptoms of sexually transmitted infections so it is necessary to see the doctor who can make a diagnoses. If the doctor may at first suggest the patient to exclude some of the irritants from daily use and wash his genitals more often if he suspects the inflammation is allergic reaction. He may also prescribe a steroid cream to treat the swelling. If after the patient did this the doctor sees no improvement, he will send the patient to see a dermatologist. The dermatologist may determine that the cause of balanitis is candida and he will thus prescribe an anti-fungal cream. In this case the sexual partner of the diseased man should be treated as well. If they continue having sexual intercourse it is advised they use a condom.If, however, the balanitis has origin in a bacterial infection, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat it.
Recurrent inflammations of the glans penis can lead to serious complications. One of them is balanitis xerotica obliterans, inflammation of the glans penis and foreskin, phimosis, paraphimosis – inability of foreskin to return to it original position, and cancer. Thus, it is advisable to see the doctor if any of the above mentioned symptom occurs.