ZocdocAnswersWhat is balanitis?

Question

What is balanitis?

My 12 yr old boy was just examined by the pediatrician who said he was developing balanitis. He said it was a hygiene issue, but my son says he's good about cleaning himself. If it is balanitis, what does my son have to do differently to keep it from coming back?

Answer

Balantitis refers to inflammation of the glans (head) penis. It can also involve the foreskin in uncircumcised males and then is termed balanoposthitis. It is true that the most common cause of balantitis is poor hygiene, but there are many other causes of balantitis, as well. The most common symptoms of balantitis are redness or a rash of the penis, discharge, or tenderness. It is generally diagnosed by physical examination alone, but your child’s pediatrician may also perform other tests. Besides infection other common causes include eczema, allergic reaction, reaction to an irritant or other skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, fungal infections or some sexually transmitted infections. If more than physical examination is necessary, your child’s pediatrician can either swab the penis for a bacterial or fungal culture or in rare cases take a small biopsy. The treatment options vary depending on the suspected cause such as antibacterial creams or medications for infections and topical steroids for several other causes. Good hygiene is by far the most important, and if your son is uncircumcised it is important that the foreskin is retracted during bathing. If it is an allergic or irritant causing the symptoms switching soaps or detergents may help improve symptoms. Your child’s pediatrician or a urologist can best discuss the diagnostic and treatment options with you.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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