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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What is balanitis?

Balanitis is inflammation and possible infection of the glans (head) of the penis.

What causes balanitis?

  • Poor hygiene
  • Fungus, bacteria, or an STD
  • Allergic reaction to latex, spermicides, or soaps
  • Constant dampness and exposure to urine

What are the signs and symptoms of balanitis?

  • Redness, swelling, and pain
  • Sores or red patches on the head of the penis
  • Bleeding from the penis
  • Foul smelling discharge
  • Thick, leathery skin

How is balanitis diagnosed and treated?

Your healthcare provider will examine your penis. He or she may be able to diagnose balanitis by the exam. The provider may swab the area and check it under a microscope to find out the cause.

  • Your provider will instruct you how to clean your penis.
  • You may need to put antibiotic or antifungal cream on the area after cleaning. You may also need to take oral antibiotic or antifungal medicines. These medicines help treat a bacterial or fungal infection.
  • If you have diabetes, your provider will check to see if your blood sugar levels are under control. Men with diabetes that is out of control are at more risk for balanitis.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Sit in a sitz bath 2 to 3 times a day to reduce swelling:
    • Fill the bathtub 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) with clean warm water.
    • Sit in the water for about 20 minutes each time.
  • Clean the area every day:
    • Push back the foreskin before cleaning.
    • Use a cotton swab to clean between the foreskin and the glans.
    • Clean with water only. Do not use soap.
    • Dry the area well.
    • Pull the foreskin back into place.
  • Control your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. Follow your recommended diabetes management plan.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have trouble urinating.

When should I call my doctor?

  • Your symptoms get worse.
  • Your symptoms return after treatment is complete.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Learn more about Balanitis

Treatment options

Symptoms and treatments

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.