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Balanitis is a medical condition characterized by infection and inflammation of the head of the penis. When infection of the foreskin is also associated, the condition is called as balanoprosthitis. It is a disease exclusively of the male gender. Clinically, it can be sometimes painful, and uncomfortable, but it is not usually serious.


Balanitis is a common medical condition, affecting about 1 in every 25 boys and 1 in 30 uncircumcised males at some point in their lives.


Many types of infections can cause balanitis, such as penile yeast infections (candida infection), chlamydia infections, fungal infections, herpes simplex, gonorrhea, human papillomavirus (HPV), primary or secondary syphilis, chancroid & trichomoniasis. Noninfectious conditions that can cause balanitis include eczema, penile injuries and accidents, psoriasis, penile irritation caused from rubbing or scratching, penile irritation from exposure to chemicals, reactive arthritis & tight foreskin.

Risk factors:

Boys under the age of 4 years and uncircumcised men stand at the maximum risk, but balanitis can happen at any age to males. Other risk factors include eczema, penile injuries and accidents, diabetes, immune deficiency, penile irritation caused by rubbing or scratching, psoriasis, reactive arthritis and excessively tight foreskin.

Signs and symptoms:

Clinical signs and symptoms of balanitis appear near the penis head and can range from mild to severe. Main clinical features include difficulty in passing urine or having sexual intercourse, localized pain, tenderness, and irritation, discolored or shiny skin, unusul discharge from the urethra, dryness of local skin, itching, burning sensation, thick, leathery skin (lichenification), phimosis (tight foreskin), foul smell and erosion of localized skin.


Balanitis may complicate to balanoprosthitis and abscess of the involved area. If untreated, it can lead to sepsis.


Balanitis is generally diagnosed by a physician, pediatrician, urologist or dermatologist. Diagnosis is based on assessment of clinical signs and symptoms and microscopic examination of swab sample is conducted to confirm the findings. Other investigations may include blood test and biopsy.


Treatment for balanitis depends on the underlying cause and definitive treatment is possible by appropriate antibiotics, anifungals, local hygienic practices and avoiding irritants and injuries. Broad spectrum antibiotic and antifungal creams are common treatments. In certain cases, corticosteroid creams may also be prescribed. Regular efforts must be made to wash and dry the foreskin. Also, avoiding soaps and other irritants is advised.