Balanoposthitis is inflammation of the head of your penis and foreskin. Causes include poor hygiene, bacterial and fungal infections, allergies, STDs and STIs. Symptoms include pain, swelling and discoloration. Your healthcare provider can diagnose balanoposthitis and recommend treatment. Treatment includes proper hygiene and medications.


What is balanoposthitis?

Balanoposthitis is cellulitis of the foreskin and glans on your penis.

The foreskin is a piece of skin that covers the glans (head) of your penis. Another name for foreskin is prepuce.

Yeast infections cause most cases of balanoposthitis. However, there are other causes, including bacterial, viral and fungal infections.


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Is balanoposthitis serious?

Balanoposthitis usually isn’t serious. It usually goes away on its own or goes away after treatment.

Is balanoposthitis an STD?

No, balanoposthitis isn’t a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or sexually transmitted infection (STI).


Who does balanoposthitis affect?

Balanoposthitis affects uncircumcised males and people assigned male at birth.

Circumcision is a surgical procedure that removes the foreskin from your penis. If you’re uncircumcised, you still have your foreskin. The moist, warm area under your foreskin creates an ideal environment for yeast, bacteria and fungi to grow.

You may have a higher risk of balanoposthitis if you:

  • Wear diapers.
  • Have poor hygiene.
  • Have diabetes.
  • Have obesity.
  • Have an STD or STI.
  • Are allergic to latex or certain chemicals.
  • Aren’t able to pull back your foreskin (phimosis).

How common is balanoposthitis?

Balanoposthitis is common. It may affect between 12% and 20% of uncircumcised children, adult males and people assigned male at birth.

Children most often have balanoposthitis between the ages of 2 and 5.

About 35% of adults who have diabetes have balanoposthitis.


How does balanoposthitis affect my body?

Balanoposthitis causes inflammation and pain. Urinating (peeing), orgasming or ejaculating may be uncomfortable.

If you get balanoposthitis often, it may be a sign that you have diabetes. You may also have a greater risk of penile cancer.

Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of balanoposthitis?

Balanoposthitis symptoms include:

  • Pain and irritation on your foreskin and the head of your penis.
  • Tenderness.
  • Edema (swelling).
  • Itching.
  • Areas of shiny or white skin on your penis.
  • Foul-smelling discharge (smegma) under your foreskin.
  • Pain while peeing or ejaculating.
  • Discoloration (red, purple or slightly darker than your usual skin color) that may look like a rash.
  • Sores or lesions on the head of your penis.

What causes balanoposthitis?

Balanoposthitis causes include:

  • Poor hygiene.
  • Bacterial infections including Streptococcus, Haemophilus parainfluenzae, Klebsiella and Staphylococcus epidermidis.
  • Fungal infections, including Candida albicans.
  • STIs, including gonorrhea.
  • Scabies.
  • Psoriasis.
  • Eczema.
  • Dermatitis.
  • Allergies, including latex condoms, lubricants, spermicides, harsh soaps and corticosteroids.

Is balanoposthitis contagious?

No, balanoposthitis isn’t contagious.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is balanoposthitis diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will diagnose balanoposthitis. They’ll ask questions about your symptoms and perform a physical examination of your foreskin and glans.

What tests will be done to diagnose balanoposthitis?

In many cases, your healthcare provider won’t conduct any tests to confirm a balanoposthitis diagnosis. However, they may order tests to determine its cause.

These tests may include:

  • Skin test. A skin test will help identify bacteria, viruses and fungi. Your healthcare provider will gently rub a cotton swab over your foreskin. They’ll then send the cotton swab to a laboratory for analysis.
  • Urethral discharge swab. A urethral discharge swab helps identify bacteria and viruses. Your healthcare provider will carefully insert a cotton swab about 3/4 of an inch (2 cm) into your urethral opening (the hole at the tip of your penis) and gently rotate it. Your healthcare provider will then send the cotton swab to a laboratory for testing.
  • Urinalysis. A urinalysis examines the visual, chemical and microscopic aspects of your pee. They’ll look for different causes of your balanoposthitis, including bacteria or high sugar (glucose) levels, which could be a sign of diabetes. You’ll pee into a special cup. Your healthcare provider will then send your sample to a laboratory for testing.
  • Blood test. Your healthcare provider may order a glycated hemoglobin (A1c) blood test to detect prediabetes or diagnose diabetes. They’ll use a thin needle (21 gauge, slightly smaller than the size of a standard earring) to withdraw a small amount of blood from a vein in your arm. They’ll send the sample to a laboratory to measure the amount of sugar (glucose) in your blood. Some healthcare providers have an A1c machine that requires only a small drop of blood from your fingertip. Test results from an A1c machine are available after a few minutes.

Management and Treatment

How do you get rid of balanoposthitis?

Getting rid of balanoposthitis depends on its cause.

Treatment options include:

  • Antibiotics. Your healthcare provider can treat bacterial and viral infections — including STDs and STIs — with antibiotics. Common antibiotics include amoxicillin (Amoxil®), clarithromycin (Biaxin XL®) and erythromycin (Erygel®).
  • Antifungal creams. If a fungus is responsible for your balanoposthitis, your provider will prescribe an antifungal cream to treat the infection. Common antifungal creams include clotrimazole (Lotrimin®), econazole (Spectazole®), miconazole (Neosporin AF®) and sulconazole (Exelderm®). Apply the cream to your foreskin and glans as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  • Antihistamines. If an allergen causes balanoposthitis, your healthcare provider may recommend antihistamines.
  • Circumcision. If you get balanoposthitis often, your healthcare provider may recommend removing your foreskin. Healthcare providers recommend circumcision most often for people who have phimosis.
  • Diabetes management. If you have diabetes, your healthcare provider will teach you how to manage it. Managing your diabetes may include monitoring your blood glucose levels, maintaining your blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, controlling your blood pressure, following a food plan and exercising regularly.
  • Improved hygiene. Regularly wash and dry your foreskin, glans and genital area.

Can I have sex if I have balanoposthitis?

Balanoposthitis isn’t an STD or STI. However, an STD or STI may be the cause. You should avoid having sex until you know the cause of your balanoposthitis.

Sex may also cause further irritation or discomfort on your penis. Avoiding sex may help your balanoposthitis go away faster.

Balanoposthitis can look like an STD or STI, even if they’re not the cause. It’s a good idea to be honest with your partner about your balanoposthitis. If they have any questions, encourage them to talk to a healthcare provider before you have sex.

If you have sex while you have balanoposthitis, carefully clean and dry your penis after. Be sure to pull your foreskin back so you can clean the skin underneath.

How long does balanoposthitis last?

Your symptoms should go away within a week with a proper hygiene routine and treatment.


How can I prevent balanoposthitis?

Practicing proper hygiene is the best way to help prevent balanoposthitis. Bathe regularly and carefully wash your foreskin, the sensitive skin under your foreskin, glans and overall genital area with soap and water.

It’s also a good idea to wear a condom while having sex. Wearing a condom will help prevent STDs or STIs that can cause balanoposthitis.

Outlook / Prognosis

What can I expect if I have balanoposthitis?

The outlook for most people with balanoposthitis is good. Many often recover without treatment.

Balanoposthitis may return if you don’t practice good hygiene. If you get balanoposthitis often, your healthcare provider may recommend circumcision.

Living With

How do I take care of myself?

The following tips can help ease irritation, inflammation and discomfort:

  • Bathe often. Wash every day, especially under your foreskin. Teach your child the importance of proper hygiene.
  • Avoid harsh soaps and lotions. Use soaps and lotions that are free of perfumes, dyes and alcohol. Look for products labeled “fragrance-free,” “hypoallergenic” or “for sensitive skin.”
  • Avoid wearing tight underwear and pants. Tight underwear and pants trap heat and moisture around your groin. Heat and moisture create the perfect environment for fungi to grow.
  • Use mild laundry detergent. Use mild laundry detergents to wash your clothes, especially underwear and pants. It’s also a good idea to use an extra rinse cycle to wash out all detergent thoroughly.
  • Stay dry. After peeing, dry your foreskin, glans and the skin under your foreskin.

When should I see my healthcare provider?

Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of balanoposthitis. Your provider will test you for infections, prescribe medications and recommend good hygiene practices.

See your healthcare provider if you get balanoposthitis often or if it doesn’t go away after treatment.

What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?

  • How can you tell that I have balanoposthitis?
  • What’s the cause of my balanoposthitis?
  • If I don’t have balanoposthitis, what other condition might I have?
  • What tests will you conduct to confirm your diagnosis?
  • Is it safe for me to have sex?
  • What’s the best way to keep my penis and genital area clean?
  • Is there a medication that you can prescribe?
  • Should I see a dermatologist, urologist, pediatrician or another specialist?

Additional Common Questions

What is the difference between balanitis and balanoposthitis?

Balanitis is inflammation of the head of your penis.

Balanoposthitis is inflammation of the head of your penis and your foreskin.

What is the difference between posthitis and balanoposthitis?

Posthitis is inflammation of your foreskin.

Balanoposthitis is inflammation of your foreskin and the head of your penis.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Balanoposthitis is common in people with foreskin on their penis. It usually goes away without treatment, but it may still be alarming, embarrassing and annoying. Be sure to thoroughly clean your penis every day, including the area under your foreskin. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have irritation or inflammation for more than a few days or if it comes back regularly. They can diagnose balanoposthitis, determine its cause and recommend medications.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 08/30/2022.

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