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What Is Balanitis? Find Out What This Condition Is and How It Is Treated

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated May 06, 2022

    What Is Balanitis? Find Out What This Condition Is and How It Is Treated

    Do you know what is balanitis? It’s a condition that affects about 10% of men, yet not a lot of men are aware of it.

    Read on to learn more about what this condition is, its symptoms, treatment, and how it can be prevented.

    What Is Balanitis?

    Balanitis is a condition wherein the glans or head of the penis suffers from irritation or inflammation. The usual cause is a buildup of smegma, or dead skin and oil, under the foreskin. This is also the reason why uncircumcised men are more prone to balanitis. Children under 4 are also more prone to having this condition.

    Here are some other possible reasons for this condition1:

  • A yeast infection is the most common reason for a person to have balanitis. An overgrowth of yeast on the penis can cause irritation and inflammation if not treated immediately.
  • It can also be caused by either a bacterial or a viral infection.
  • Reactive arthritis can also be a possible cause of this condition. This is a type of arthritis that develops in response to an infection and can cause sores on the penis. This is also known as circinate balanitis.
  • Pseudoepitheliomatous keratotic and micaceous balanitis are rare types of balanitis that occurs in older men. However, the exact reason for this condition is still unclear.
  • Uncircumcised men are more prone to this condition because bacteria and yeast can easily grow under the foreskin. This is especially true for those who don’t practice proper hygiene such as cleaning regularly under the foreskin.

    However, circumcised men can also experience balanitis, though it’s much less common.

    Symptoms of Balanitis

    Here are some symptoms to watch out for2:

    • Redness around the head of the penis
    • Tight and shiny skin on the glans
    • A thick buildup of smegma under the foreskin
    • Painful urination
    • Irritation, inflammation, or itchiness on the glans
    • An unpleasant smell coming from the penis
    • Sores on the glans

    If you experience any of these symptoms, it would be best to go to a doctor as soon as possible.

    Treatment for Balanitis

    Once a doctor has confirmed that you do have this condition, then treatment can start. The treatment can vary depending on what’s causing the inflammation3.

    If it’s caused by a yeast infection, an antifungal cream might be prescribed by your doctor. For a bacterial infection, antibiotics might be prescribed in order to kill off any bacteria that’s causing the irritation. Steroid creams can also be prescribed to help with swelling and reduce inflammation.

    If it starts to become a recurring condition, then a doctor might recommend circumcision. This way, it will be much easier to clean the penis, and any growth of yeast or bacteria can be minimized. However, this isn’t always recommended by doctors.

    Most cases of balanitis are not serious, and treatment options are fairly effective4.


    Preventing balanitis is very simple. Here are some things that you can do5:

    • Maintain good personal hygiene. If you are uncircumcised, be sure to pull back your foreskin and make sure that area is clean. Soap and water should be enough to clean under your foreskin and make sure to dry it thoroughly afterward. Circumcised men can also benefit from maintaining good personal hygiene.
    • Make sure that your genitals are dry. Yeast and bacteria tend to grow in warm and moist places, which makes your genitals a breeding ground for these microorganisms. By making sure they are always clean and dry, you can lower the chances that yeast and bacteria will grow.
    • Get circumcised. If you are open to getting circumcised, it can help lower the chances that you will experience balanitis. It also makes your penis much easier to clean.

    Learn more about Penis Health here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


    Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated May 06, 2022

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