Balanitis is irritation of the head of the penis. It is more common in men who have not been circumcised. The area under the foreskin that covers the head of the penis is often warm and moist. This can cause the growth of bacteria or a fungus. This can make the penis sore, red, swollen, and itchy. You may also feel burning when you urinate, have pus come from your penis, or have chills and a fever.

Balanitis can also be caused by the chemicals in soap, condoms, or lubricants. Men with diabetes are more likely to get balanitis.

Your doctor may suggest a cream that usually clears up the problem within 2 weeks. You can prevent balanitis by keeping your penis clean. You also can help prevent it by not using products that cause irritation.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It’s also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. Take your medicine exactly as prescribed. If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Keep your penis clean. If you have not been circumcised, gently pull the foreskin back to wash your penis with warm water. Make sure your penis is dry before you get dressed.
  • If latex condoms irritate your penis, try other condoms that are made for sensitive skin. Your doctor can help you make a good choice.
  • Wash your underwear with mild soap. Rinse it well.
  • If you work with harsh chemicals, wash your hands well before you go to the bathroom.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.