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What is balanitis?

Balanitis is an infection or inflammation of the skin on the head (glans) of the penis. In men who are not circumcised, this area is covered with a flap of skin known as the foreskin. Balanitis can occur in both circumcised and uncircumcised men, although it occurs more commonly in men who are not circumcised. Young boys are generally only affected if they have a very tight foreskin that is difficult to pull back.

Causes of balanitis

Several infections and skin conditions can cause balanitis. These include:

  • Infections with fungi (Candida) or bacteria that live on the skin (the most common cause)

  • Sexually transmitted infections, such as herpes simplex

  • Skin irritation due to soap, detergents or spermicidal jelly

  • Benign (non-cancerous) skin conditions such as psoriasis

  • Certain types of skin cancer (very rare).

  • Diabetes can make balanitis more likely, especially if blood sugar is poorly controlled. The high blood sugar level causes high amounts of sugar in the urine. Sugar-rich urine dripping onto the glans penis and under the foreskin provides a friendly environment for fungi and bacteria. Additionally, people with poorly controlled diabetes have a harder time fighting infections.

  • When balanitis continues to recur, it can be caused by a fungal infection passed back and forth between partners during sexual contact.

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Risk factors

Did you know that one of the most important risk factors for inflammation of the glans penis and foreskin (balanitis) is Urinating the Wrong Way !!! In fact, many men do not urinate correctly !!!

Although any man can develop balanitis, the condition is more likely to occur in men who have a tight foreskin that is difficult to pull back or who have poor hygiene. In fact, one of the most important risk factors for infections and inflammation of the foreskin is the repeated contact of the foreskin and glans with urine. FOR THIS REASON IT IS ESSENTIAL TO RETRACT THE PREPUTIUM WHEN YOU URINE !!! Many men do not do it because they have not been taught or out of laziness. In addition, it is good to always dry the glans after urination. Continued contact of the urine with the foreskin and glans leads to a state of continuous inflammation, loss of immune defenses and the possibility of developing a bacterial or fungal infection.

How to recognize a balanitis?

Symptoms include:

  • A red, inflamed rash on the head (glans) and shaft of the penis or under the foreskin.

  • White spots on the glans, red spots on the foreskin and glans

  • Itching or burning in the affected area.

  • A white, lumpy, or yellowish discharge from the affected skin or from under the foreskin

Diagnosis

Your primary care physician (GP) can usually recognize balanitis immediately. Occasionally, a swab or skin scraping may be examined under a microscope or may be sent to the laboratory for further tests to confirm the diagnosis.

When balanitis does not respond to treatment or appears different from a typical infection, your doctor may recommend that you see an Andrologist or perform a skin biopsy. In a 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 another type of skin condition that is causing the symptoms.

Important: In case of suspected balanitis or a change in color of the foreskin or glans penis, always see your general practitioner (GP). Don't diagnose with dr. Google. A CANCER OF THE PENIS CAN BE EASILY EXCHANGED FOR A BALANITIS !!!.

Expected duration

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

Prevention

Men who are not circumcised should practice good hygiene, including complete withdrawal of the foreskin when bathing and especially when urinating !!!. People with diabetes can help prevent balanitis by carefully monitoring their blood sugar.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause.

If your problem is caused by a fungal infection, you will be advised to use an antifungal cream. Clotrimaxazole is a very effective over-the-counter drug, also used for the treatment of vaginal fungal infections and athlete's foot. Apply it to the affected area two or three times a day for 10 days. Your doctor may also recommend prescription antifungal treatment in the form of a cream or pill.

If you have a bacterial skin infection, you will be told to use an antibiotic cream and make sure you clean the area thoroughly. Antibiotic pills may occasionally be needed.

When the foreskin is inflamed, but not infected, you will be advised to keep the area clean and dry and to avoid soaps or skin lotions which could aggravate the condition. Sometimes a cortisone cream can help improve the problem more quickly. However, cortisone can make some infections worse, so it's best to avoid this type of medication unless prescribed by an Andrologist. In addition, it is advisable to wash the penis with moisturizers (not soaps) and apply emollients after urinating to create a barrier between the foreskin and urine.

Once effective treatment is started, there is usually no need to avoid sex, although sexual contact can irritate or inflame the affected area. Rarely, sexual contact can transmit an infection back and forth between partners. In this case, both partners may require treatment at the same time to prevent further episodes.

In uncircumcised men, circumcision often prevents repeat infections, especially in men who have a tight and difficult foreskin to retract.

When to call your trusted Italian Andrologist in London?

Contact your Italian Andrologist in London if:

  • You have developed balanitis that is unresponsive to hygiene measures and an over-the-counter antifungal medication.

  • Your GP's prescription doesn't seem to cure your condition.

Do you have a balanitis problem that requires an andrological examination?

Dr. Fabio Castiglione Urologist Italian Andrologist in London is an expert in this area. If you are interested and want more information, do not hesitate to contact him at the Doctorelondon Clinic for Italians in London. Contact The Doctorelondon Clinic for Italians in London. (tel. +44 (0) 20 8616 8380 ) to book an andrological visit in London

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© 2020 by Dr. Fabio Castiglione