What are the treatments for balanitis?
The treatment for balanitis depends on what is causing the condition. Treatments can include:
- Antifungal creams: If a yeast infection is causing balanitis, your provider will prescribe an antifungal cream such as clotrimazole to treat the infection. You will need to apply the cream to the glans (head of the penis) and foreskin as prescribed.
- Antibiotics: If a sexually transmitted disease is the cause of your symptoms, your provider will treat the infection with antibiotics. The antibiotic will depend on the type of infection.
- Improved hygiene: Your provider will recommend that you wash and dry under your foreskin often to reduce the risk of balanitis returning.
- Diabetes management: If you have diabetes, your provider will show you how to manage the condition.
- Circumcision: If you have recurring symptoms of balanitis, your provider may recommend circumcision. Circumcision is a surgical procedure in which a provider removes the foreskin covering the penis. Providers recommend this treatment most often for men who have an especially tight foreskin (phimosis).
What are the complications associated with balanitis?
Untreated balanitis can cause chronic (long-term) inflammation (redness and irritation). Lasting inflammation can cause health issues, including:
- Balanoposthitis: Balanitis can lead to balanoposthitis (inflammation of the foreskin and glans). This only occurs in uncircumcised males. Signs of balanoposthitis include itching, irritation, and swollen foreskin and glans. Balanoposthitis occurs more often in males who have diabetes or a tight foreskin.
- Balanitis xerotica obliterans (BXO): Also called lichen sclerosus, BXO occurs when skin on the glans hardens and turns white. The hard tissue can make it difficult or impossible for urine and semen to flow through the urethra (the tube that allows fluids to exit the penis).
- Phimosis: Long-term inflammation can lead to scarring on the penis, which can cause the foreskin to become constricted. The foreskin can become so tight that it cannot retract (pull back) over the glans.
What can I do to help relieve symptoms of balanitis?
To ease the irritation and inflammation of balanitis, you should:
- Bathe often: Wash every day. Be sure to pull your foreskin back so you can clean underneath.
- Avoid harsh soaps: Try not to use strong soap or lotions that can irritate your skin.
- Stay dry: After urinating, dry the area under the foreskin so urine doesn’t become trapped under the foreskin.
- Teach proper hygiene: Teach boys appropriate hygiene, especially if they are uncircumcised.