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Balanitis

Definition

Balanitis is swelling of the foreskin and head of the penis.

Alternative Names

Balanoposthitis

Causes

Balanitis is most often caused by poor hygiene in uncircumcised men. Other possible causes include:

Symptoms


Exams and Tests

Your health care provider may be diagnosed the problem with only an exam. However, you may need skin tests for viruses, fungi, or bacteria. A skin biopsy may also be needed.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause of the balanitis.

Circumcision may be the best option in severe cases. If you cannot pull back (retract) the foreskin to clean it, you may need to be circumcised.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most cases of balanitis can be controlled with medicated creams and good hygiene. Surgery is not needed most of the time.

Possible Complications

Long-term inflammation or infection can:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Tell your health care provider if you have any signs of balanitis, including swelling of the foreskin or pain.

Prevention

Good hygiene can prevent most cases of balanitis. When you bathe, pull back the foreskin to clean and dry the area under it.

References

Elder JS. Anomalies of the penis and urethra. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 538.

Link RE. Cutaneous diseases of the external genitalia. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 15. 

Jordan GH. McCammon KA. Surgery of the penis and urethra. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 36. 


Review Date: 10/2/2013
Reviewed By: Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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