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Balanitis: Infection of the Penis Tip, Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis

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Though a fairly common condition, balanitis affects at least 1 in 20 men around the world. Balanitis is a swelling of the head or foreskin of the penis and affects mostly uncircumcised men. Though balanitis can be quite painful, it typically isn’t so serious and can be treated with a topical medication most of the time.

What causes the development of balanitis?

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Balanitis is an inflammation that is typically caused by a chronic skin condition or an infection. Bad personal hygiene can lead to continue to skin irritation. in fact excess or to little amount of cleansing can worsen the situation.

Balanitis is caused either by a yeast infection or an over growth of some bacteria on the skin. The foreskin of a penis is a very conducive environment for the growth of such unhealthy organisms because it can easily cause moisture to be trapped around the head of the penis.

An injury in the foreskin or the tip of the penis can cause discomfort and swelling. Irritation in the penis area can also be a cause of balanitis. These irritations can be caused by: Cleaning the penis using scented soap, not completely rinsing off soap from your penis after having a bath or washing, using scented spray or lotion on your penis, and also washing with bar soaps that dry up skin.

Balanitis can also be a side effect of some antibiotics, painkillers, sleeping pills, and laxatives. Balanitis caused by drugs is known as a fixed drug eruption. Some other causes of balanitis include sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhoea, syphilis, and trichomonas. Uncontrolled diabetes and reactive arthritis are also potential culprits.

Signs and symptoms of balanitis

Symptoms of balanitis include redness and swelling of the foreskin, itchy genitals, discharge, tightened foreskin, painful skin on the penis, pain in the genital area.

The swelling of a penis tip can put some pressure on a person’s urethra adding this cash lead to painful urination.

Diagnosing Balanitis

Balanitis can be diagnosed usually with a physical examination because most of its symptoms are on the skin which makes them visible. If you are having discharge from that area, your doctor may decide to collect samples of the discharge for examination in the laboratory using a cotton swab.

Urine may also be collected for lab testing. The collected discharge offer using will be checked for the presence of fungal cells or bacteria. This will help the doctor determine the cause of the balanitis.

If it is discovered that the cause of the balanitis is a chronic skin condition, your doctor may decide to perform a biopsy. For the biopsy, your doctor will have to collect a tiny piece of tissue from the penis that will be examined for the presence of diseases. Local anaesthesia will be administered before the tissue collection is done.

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How Balanitis is treated?

While the doctor will take charge of prescribing what medication will be used for treatment, there are a few things you can also do to help yourself. Make use of only lukewarm water for cleansing the penis, avoid the use of perfumed soaps, powders, out lotions as they often a major cause of foreskin irritation.

Medication for balanitis

After the lab tests and diagnosis, your doctor will most likely prescribe the user of an anti-itch cream that will help to reduce the itchiness in that area and also stop the inflammation. If your doctor notices that you have an infection then he or she will prescribe an anti-fungal or antibiotic medication that will help to clear it out.

You may not need more than this to stop the itching, discharge and inflammation. Your doctor may also prescribe medicated creams that contain steroid to help reduce the inflammation

Over-the-counter treatment

It is suggested that you do not attempt treating any medical condition without consulting your doctor. But, if you feel like doing some home treatment on your own, you can try applying a mixture of diluted vinegar and burow’s solution to the area using a compress. This home made mixture will act as an astringent. What Astringents do is to cause the skin to contract and that will help to reduce inflammation.

A fungus could be the cause of your balanitis (penile yeast infection), In such a case you can purchase an anti-fungal cream that contains clotrimazole, terbinafine, or nystatin. If you also decide to use topical steroids that contain hydrocortisone, it is also helpful.

Nevertheless, if you decide to try over-the-counter treatment, make sure you do not use them for more than two weeks. If you do not notice any positive improvement see your doctor for proper evaluation. It is important to get treated early so that the condition doesn’t become more dangerous and complicated with time.

Complications of balanitis

Seeking treatment at a very easily stage is the best way to avoid getting complications from balanitis. Done if the possible complications include painful foreskin retraction, scaring in the penis opening, and inadequate blood supply to the penis.

Allergic dermatitis can also be a cause of balanitis that involves rash, extreme itching, inflamed skin, and hives. An inflamed skin can ultimately lead to scaring.

Scar tissue in the penis opening can make the opening become narrow. This narrowness can lead to difficulty urinating and also cause lasting discomfort.

Phimosis

For some men, even after treatment their foreskin will not retract. This inability for the skin to retract is known as phimosis. Phimosis isn’t caused by acute balanitis but by chronic (long-standing) balanitis which is another reason why you should seek treatment immediately you notice symptoms.

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In a lot of cases, untreated phimosis requires surgery. This surgery may involve cutting a slit to separate the foreskin from the penis. Some other surgeries may require circumcision which would mean the total removal of the foreskin. The faster you treat a case of balanitis the better your penis will look when you get better.

How to prevent balanitis?

Balanitis prevention is so easy since you could engage in preventive practices without breaking a sweat. All you are required to do is engage in personal hygiene practices like having a bath daily saying washing up properly after having sex. You can also prevent balanitis by properly drying your penis after washing and avoiding the use of harsh soaps, perfumed lotions, and sprays.

A lot of people have concluded that sleeping naked is a thing for only ladies, but it is essential also for your penis health. Airing your penis will prevent the collection of sweat in areas that can easily become home to bacteria that causes penile yeast infection and balanitis.

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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.
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