How to Treat Balanitis
Balanitis is an inflammation of the tip of the penis, also known as the glans penis. Balanitis does not include the foreskin, technically, but this can also be infected in a similar way. It does affect people who are uncircumcised much more often than those with a foreskin. There is a little confusion over what exactly causes balanitis is, but the main concern is whether or not it is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). It can be a symptom of an STD, but it is not actually one in itself. Balanitis can derive from fungal infection, allergies, diabetes, psoriasis, hygiene products or even a general lack of hygiene. knowing how to treat balanitis is not difficult, but there are options to consider, so let oneHOWTO take you through them.
Fungal infection of balanitis
The most frequent cause of balanitis is fungal infection, usually Candida albicans, which gives its name to the disease: candidal balanitis. The most obvious symptoms are itching and redness of the glans and in more severe cases also of the foreskin. When it spreads to the foreskin it is called balanoposthitis. This is the inflammation of both the glans penis and the foreskin.
Before applying any treatment, it is important to clean the area often and properly. You will need to stop using strong soaps and other products on your penis. If balanitis is caused by usage of these products, the condition should spontaneously resolve in about 4 or 5 days. It is also possible you have developed an allergy to something. This could be as seemingly innocuous as the type of laundry detergent you use on your towels or clothing. If you have recently started practising safe sex with a condom and found that you have balanitis, it is possible you have a latex allergy. Visit your doctor and they will be able to advise further.
Balanitis may be caused by a fungal infection. These require treatment with an anti-fungal ointment such as ketoconazole, miconazole, clotrimazole or nystatin. These products are usually sold without a prescription and must be applied 2 or 3 times a day for a minimum of 10 days. This is to be done immediately after sanitising and drying the affected area. The results are usually quick and effective.
Oral anti-fungal medicationscan also be prescribed, such as fluconazole, a 150 mg tablet that is taken just once as a single dose.
A diet high in sugars and carbohydrates feeds Candida cells and provides them with all the energy they need to live. By contrast, eating organic foods which are rich in active enzymes and high in vitamins and minerals kill the Candida cells.
Balanitis and bacterial infection
When balanitis occurs due to a bacterial infection the treatment will be oral antibiotics. To decide which antibiotic is needed, your physician will take a sample with a swab, a small stick with a cotton tip, to diagnose the correct cause of balanitis. If you are unsure if balanitis can cause UTIs, take a look at this oneHOWTO article to get informed.
Oral administration of cephalosporins (a very common antibiotic) such as cephalexin, ceftriaxone or cefixime are useful for the treatment of balanitis produced by gonorrhoea. It is usually taken four times a day for 7 days.
Another possibility are macrolides, such as erythromycin and azithromycin. These are usually prescribed for 7 days with doses twice a day.
If infections are recurrent, a measure to consider for a solution is circumcision, especially in cases of phimosis and paraphimosis. This is when the foreskin covers the glans penis, but constricts to the point it can no longer be pulled back over the head of the penis. Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin altogether, usually practiced on newborn babies, but required for adults with certain chronic conditions. It is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the foreskin, leaving the glans exposed. It is performed under local anaesthesia, takes less than an hour (you do not need hospitalization) and recovery is 8 or 10 days. If not, you must ensure proper hygiene by retracting the foreskin to clean it, a basic care step to avoid balanitis.
Balanitis and hygiene
General care for all types of balanitis, whatever the cause are:
If the skin is inflamed the recommendation is to keep the area clean and dry, avoiding the use of any scented soap, lotion or chemical that can irritate the area.
You should wash the glans every day. Pulling the foreskin back gently during bathing or showering and gently wiping the glans using only water and mild soap, making sure the shaft and glans are dry before putting on underwear. If the glans has small white patches caused by fungal infection do not attempt to clean or rub. This will further injure the glans and leave it with open wounds facilitating the entry of more micro-organisms.
Wash hands before going to the bathroom if working with chemicals that can irritate delicate skin. This can include kitchen chemicals like the ones found in chile oil from chile peppers. You can also try a water based cream to soothe and cleanse the area. If you have irritant balanitis, once you stop using the product that causes irritation the symptoms usually disappear. However, they may reappear if you start using the product again.
Another treatment balanitis is washing with potassium permanganate. A tablet is dissolved in a litre of boiling water and can then be used 2 or 3 times a day. Sodium borate also improves symptoms. Dissolve a tablespoon in a litre of boiled water and then store it in a covered container and use a small at every wash.
While hygiene products with chemicals in them can cause a balanitis flare up, some natural oils can also be at the root of the problem. Discovering which chemical or ingredient might be affecting your skin can be a matter of trial and error. If you want support in discovering what to avoid, then visiting a dermatologist is a must.
Although during treatment it is not necessary to avoid sexual intercourse this can cause further irritation and swelling in the affected area. The infection is rarely transmitted during sex, but if it occurs both should be treated simultaneously. That is why we recommend the use of condoms in this period, provided they are not the cause of the balanitis. When using condoms only use ones intended for sensitive skin.
Balanitis itself is not an STD, but it may be the symptom of one. Even if you are pretty sure an STD is not at fault, it is difficult to tell without a proper medical evaluation. Abstaining from sex is likely the best idea. This is to avoid further infection, but also because sex might be unpleasant, both physically and visually. Masturbation should also have the kibosh put on it. It won't mean you will infect another person, but the jerking could exacerbate the balanitis. Especially if it is particularly vigorous.
These may be prescribed to help reduce inflammation, with corticosteroid creams rapid improvement is obtained. Although, the possibility exists that it may worsen certain kinds of infections. This medication should not be used without a doctor's prescription. This is because steroid creams can have terrible adverse effects, including hypertension, gastro-intestinal problems and a malignant effect on your mental health.
If you have balanitis, you should always consult a physician if it persists. Do no take something like steroids or strong antibiotics without doing so first. Self-medicating in this way can result in something worse than balanitis.
Read our article on how to cure balanitis if you want some more info.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Treat Balanitis, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.
- See your doctor in any case if you suspect you have balanitis.