Is Balanitis an STD?

Reviewed on 4/15/2022

Rendering of balanitis on the head of the penis
Balanitis is not an STD (sexually transmitted disease) but, certain STDs and infections can cause balanitis and balanoposthitis such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, human papillomavirus (HPV), trichomonas, syphilis, yeast infections (Candida), and streptococcus infections.

Balanitis is a common condition that causes inflammation of the head of the penis (the glans). Inflammation of both the glans and foreskin is referred to as balanoposthitis. 

Balanitis affects between 3-11% of males and is one of the most common reasons men and boys need to see a urologist. 

While balanitis is not an STD (sexually transmitted disease) in itself, certain infections, including some STDs, can cause balanitis and balanoposthitis, such as: 

Other conditions that may lead to types of balanitis include:

  • Lichen sclerosus
  • Zoon balanitis 
  • Reiter disease 

Risk factors for developing balanitis and balanoposthitis include: 

What Are Symptoms of Balanitis?

Symptoms of balanitis and balanoposthitis include: 

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

How Is Balanitis Diagnosed?

In addition to a patient history, a doctor will perform a physical exam of the penis to check for signs of balanitis and balanoposthitis.

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

What Is the Treatment for Balanitis?

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

To properly clean the head of the penis and foreskin, retract the foreskin and gently clean with soap and warm water.

Once the cause of the balanitis or balanoposthitis is diagnosed, self-care at home may be all that is needed to treat the condition. Patient education on improving personal hygiene is important. 

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

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

If the balanitis or balanoposthitis is severe and is causing urinary obstruction, this 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. 


Condoms are the best protection from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). See Answer

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Reviewed on 4/15/2022
Image Source: iStock Images