How Do You Get Balanitis?

Reviewed on 12/3/2020

What is Balanitis?

If the balanitis is caused by an infection, it is contagious until the penis infection has been treated and cured.
If the balanitis is caused by an infection, it is contagious until the penis infection has been treated and cured.

Balanitis is a common condition that causes inflammation of the head of the penis (the glans). When both the glans and foreskin are inflamed, it is referred to as balanoposthitis. Balanitis affects up to 11% of males and is one of the most common reasons men and boys need to see a urologist.

What are Symptoms of Balanitis?

Symptoms of balanitis and balanoposthitis include: 

  • Discharge from the penis 
  • Pain, tenderness, or redness on the head of the penis (glans)
  • Difficulty retracting the foreskin
  • White or yellow buildup under the foreskin (smegma)
  • Impotence (difficulty getting or maintaining an erection, also called erectile dysfunction)
  • Pain with erection
  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • Itching
  • Fever (uncommon)
  • Difficulty urinating or inability to urinate (in very severe cases)

What Causes Balanitis?

Risk factors for developing balanitis and balanoposthitis include: 

Certain infections, including some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), can cause balanitis and balanoposthitis, such as: 

Other conditions that may lead to types of balanitis include:

  • Lichen sclerosus
  • Zoon balanitis 
  • Reiter disease 

Is Balanitis Contagious?

Some forms of balanitis can be contagious, such as those caused by infectious bacteria, viruses, or fungi. If the balanitis is caused by an infection, it is contagious until the infection has been treated and cured. 

How is Balanitis Diagnosed?

To diagnose balanitis, doctor will perform a physical exam and will look for: 

  • Redness and swelling of the head of the penis (glans) and foreskin
  • Penile discharge 
  • White or yellow buildup under the foreskin (smegma)
  • Skin ulceration or open sores on the head of the penis
  • Swelling, redness, or discharge from the urethra 
  • Swollen lymph glands in the groin 

Lab tests used to help diagnose the cause of balanitis or balanoposthitis include:

SLIDESHOW

Sex-Drive Killers: The Causes of Low Libido See Slideshow

What is the Treatment for Balanitis?

Treatment for balanitis and balanoposthitis depends on the underlying cause, but it starts with cleaning the head of the penis (glans) and foreskin. 

Once the cause of balanitis or balanoposthitis is diagnosed, self-care at home may be all that is needed to treat the condition. 

Improving personal hygiene is important. To properly clean the head of the penis and foreskin, retract the foreskin and gently clean with soap and warm water.

If there is an infection or inflammatory cause of balanitis and balanoposthitis, treatments may include:

  • Antifungal creams or ointments applied topically
  • Antibiotic creams such as bacitracin 
  • If there is evidence of infection to the skin (cellulitis), oral antibiotics such as cephalosporins may be prescribed
  • Topical steroids for inflammation

Severe balanitis or balanoposthitis that causes urinary obstruction is a medical emergency that may require local incisions to the foreskin and possibly corrective surgery. A urologist may need to be consulted in severe cases. 

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Reviewed on 12/3/2020
References
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/777026-overview

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/balanitis-in-adults

https://suragel.com/blog/is-balanitis-contagious-learn-if-it-can-spread-to-others/