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What is Balanitis?

Balanitis is where the end of the penis (the glans) becomes inflamed. It can occur at any age but is most prominent in uncircumcised adult men. Often the foreskin, which is the loose skin that covers the glans of an uncircumcised penis, is also inflamed at the same time as the glans.

Balanitis Xerotica Obliterans. Known as BXO is a disease affecting the glans or penis, as well as the foreskin, meatus and distal urethra either individually or in combination.

What causes Balanitis?

Balanitis is caused by infections or chronic skin conditions, injuries or anything that can cause an irritation.

One cause of balanitis is improper hygiene. Not cleaning properly and even cleaning too much can irritate the skin, subsequently causing balanitis. Not rinsing the soap off properly, using scented soaps or drying soaps or any products such as body lotion on the penis, can all lead to a skin irritation.

Injuries on the tip of the penis or foreskin, can also lead to skin irritation as well as a growth in bacteria or yeast, since the foreskin of the penis is the perfect environment for these organisms.

Balanitis can also be a side effect from certain medication such as laxatives, sleeping pills, painkillers and antibiotics.

Some sexually transmitted infections can also cause balanitis.

The cause of BXO is still unknown though men who develop this chronic and often debilitating disease are generally found to have one or more abnormalities such as white penile skin colour change or a smoothing of the indentation between the head of the penis and the shaft.

What are the symptoms of Balanitis?

The most common symptoms of balanitis are redness, irritation and soreness of the end of the penis. Moist bright red or brown patches, often symmetrical. The foreskin may be sore or itchy and sometimes a discharge may occur.

How do you treat Balanitis?

Steroid creams or ointments used for short periods are an effective balanitis treatment. Regular washing with an ointment and antiseptic can help. Sometimes a steroid cream is used as well as anti-yeast or antibiotic medication to reduce the inflammation. In some cases, circumcision may be required.

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