Men's Health


Written by
Dr. Sneha Kannan
and medically reviewed by Dr. Sandeep Golla

Published on Mar 05, 2019 and last reviewed on Oct 10, 2019   -  3 min read



Is the tip of your penis red and swollen? It can be a type of balanitis. This article will help you understand the causes and treatment needed.


What is Balanitis?

Swelling or inflammation of the glans penis is called balanitis. And inflammation of the prepuce (foreskin) alone is called posthitis. As the swelling of both the glans penis and foreskin occur together, it is called balanoposthitis. It is a very common condition that affects 1 in every 20 men. It is painful and is commonly seen in uncircumcised men. It can be seen even in circumcised men with minimum symptoms. It is treatable and is caused due to poor hygiene and tight foreskin.

What are the Types of Balanitis?

The three types of balanitis are:

  1. Zoon’s Balanitis - It is commonly seen in middle-aged uncircumcised individuals, and causes localized lesions on the glans and foreskin.

  2. Circinate Balanitis - It is the most common skin condition seen in reactive arthritis. The skin of the penis becomes inflamed and scaly.

  3. Pseudoepitheliomatous Keratotic and Micaceous Balanitis - It mostly affects elder uncircumcised men, and presents as a hyperkeratotic plaque with a thick micaceous scale on the glans penis.

What Causes Balanitis?

The factors that contribute to or cause balanitis are:

Common causes:

  • Improper hygiene.
  • Leaving unwashed soap on the penis.
  • Using soap that is scented or dries the skin on the penis.
  • Scratching and rubbing.
  • Allergic reaction.

Infectious causes:

  • Yeast infection.
  • Chlamydia.
  • Fungal infections.
  • Herpes.
  • Gonorrhea.
  • Chancroid.
  • Syphilis.

Other conditions:

  • Eczema.
  • Uncontrolled diabetes.
  • Balanitis xerotica obliterans.
  • Injuries.
  • Psoriasis.
  • Reactive arthritis.
  • Phimosis.
  • Exposure to chemicals.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Balanitis?

The common signs and symptoms include:

  • The skin becomes discolored.
  • Glans penis looks tight and shiny.
  • Sometimes, the foreskin looks very dry.
  • Foul smelling discharge.
  • Pain while urinating.
  • The glands near the penis get swollen.
  • Open sores.
  • Skin lesions.
  • Phimosis (tight foreskin).
  • Itchy genitals.

How is Balanitis Diagnosed?

Balanitis is usually diagnosed by clinical examination. If the doctor notices inflammation and redness of the penis, they will think of all the possible irritants. After advising to prevent potential irritants, the doctor might also educate you about practicing good hygiene, safe sex, and about latex condoms.

The doctor might also rule out other health condition that might cause balanitis.

If the condition is not resolved even after following the above methods, your doctor might suggest you get the following tests done:

  • Swab test - A swab is collected from the glans to check for infection.
  • Urine test.
  • Blood test.
  • Biopsy - Rarely, a sample from the lesion or inflamed skin is taken and tested.

How Can Balanitis Be Treated?


  • Anti-itch cream.
  • Antibiotic or antifungal cream.
  • Steroid ointment.

What are the Complications of Balanitis?

It is essential to get proper treatment for balanitis as early as possible. If left untreated, it can cause:

  • The blood supply to the penis might get reduced.
  • Scars in the penis opening.
  • Difficulty to urinate.
  • Long-standing balanitis might also cause phimosis (inability to retract the foreskin).

How to Maintain Proper Penile Hygiene?

Some hygiene tips are as follows:

  • Avoid using scented soaps and lotions.
  • Always clean the glans penis after retracting the foreskin.
  • The area should be washed with warm water.
  • If needed, a neutral nonsoap cleanser can be used.
  • The soap should be thoroughly washed and rinsed off.
  • The area should be completely dry after cleaning.
  • Always wash your private areas after sexual intercourse.

As soon as you notice any abnormality or changes in your penis, consult your doctor immediately. If treated early, balanitis does not cause permanent damage or complication. Your doctor will suggest the best treatment option for your condition. Self-medication is never good, as it might worsen the situation.

Last reviewed at:
10 Oct 2019  -  3 min read




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

I put scotch tape on penis to regenerate foreskin. Will my babies have birth defects?

Query: Hello doctor, To make a long story short, I used scotch tape and micropore tape respectively on my penis. Two straps of tape were attached to the penis in the form of a cross, so that they met in the tip of the penis' head, while the ends went all the way down to the skin of the shaft. This allowed...  Read Full »

Why is balanitis not responding to T-Bact and Augmentin 625?

Query: Hello doctor,I have balanitis on the head of my penis, below the foreskin. I am applying T-Bact and taking Augmentin 625 as an oral pill. It has been four days since I have started the medication. It is not going, though itching has reduced somewhat. Please help.  Read Full »

Can HPV be transmitted by kissing?

Query: Hi doctor, I have a few warts on my leg and a barely noticeable wart on my penis. My doctor said that they look like HPV. He advised me to apply antifungal and steroid cream and wear condoms. The cream was not very effective even after four days. Can it be something other than HPV? Will condom...  Read Full »

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Hpv or Balanitis?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.
Enter Your Health Query
You can upload files and images in the next step.



Disclaimer: All health articles published on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek the advice from your physician or other qualified health-care providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website.