What is it? It is an infection of the glans – the tip of the penis that the foreskin covers. When a person has balanitis this area becomes sore and swollen. Besides localised pain it may make it difficult to urinate.
What causes balanitis – it can be caused by a fungus, by a bacterial infection or it can be symptomatic of a more serious disease – for example balanitis can be an early sign of male diabetes in children.
In babies balanitis may be caused by bacteria or fungus already present as a yeast infection spreading to infect the penis.
How to treat Balanitis
First talk to your doctor and rule out the possibility of the inflammation being caused by something more serious. Then practise really good hygiene. Pull the foreskin back and wash thoroughly with gentle soap. Allow it to dry thoroughly and receive air if possible. This destroys the environment that bacteria and fungus like and they are responsible for most balanitis. This simple practice will help clear up many cases of balanitis. For babies, make sure the nappy is changed often when wet.
If simple hygiene methods aren’t enough, then you may need to use either an anti fungal or topical antibiotic cream. It can be helpful for your doctor to culture a swab from the glans to establish what is causing the balanitis, as bacteria and fungus are killed by different medications.
If your balanitis still does not respond, sometimes circumcision will be recommended.
How important is it to treat balanitis?
If left untreated a couple of nasty things may happen. It may spread to be a general (very painful) infection of the total penis. It may cause scarring of the ureter which makes passing urine painful. This would then necessitate an operation to enlarge the ureter again. More pain. So get it treated as soon as it appears. And if you have to go for circumcision, oh well, it won’t kill you!