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Balanitis is the swelling or inflammation of the end of the penis.

Causes and Diagnosis

The inflammation may be caused by bacterial infection, fungal infection (thrush), chemical irritation (allergy), or dermetitia or exzema. Usually the diagnosis is made by a doctor who may take a swab of the end of the penis. Poor hygiene or poor cleaning under the foreskin of the uncircumcised male can cause or exacerbate the problem. On the otherhand excessive cleaning especially with soaps under the foreskin can have the same affect.


Balanitis occurs in men of all ages but is more common in children. The treatment depends on the cause.
  • Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics.
  • Thrush is treated with antifungal cream.
  • Allergy/dermatitis by avoidance of what caused the allergy and or steroid creams.


    In some rare occaissions the penis may swell so that urine cannot be passed in this case the patient should see a doctor as soon as possible and may need referal to a hospital for care. Similarly recurrent balanitis should probably be seen by a specialist at the hospital and circumcision or removal of the foreskin may be necessary.

    Usually balanitis is not sexually transmitted but sexually transmitted diseases may be mistaken for balanitis and so if there is any doubt see your doctor. Part of the treatment for balanitis involves cleaning the penis correctly.


    All children over the age of 3 should clean their penises and learn how to do so if they do not know how to. The best place and time to do this is in a warm bath or shower that does not contain a lot of soap. Gently retract the foreskin and allow the sensitive tip beneath to be washed by the flow of water. You may also dab the end or glans but do not rub it.

    If there is no bath available a bowl of clean warm water with a teaspoon of salt may do. You can also add a tablespoon of salt to the bath if you wish. Also remember if you are drying a penis to dab and not to rub. Do not fully retract a foreskin in a child under the age of three.

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