What is the treatment?
Balanitis is not a serious condition. However, as some of the symptoms are the same as some sexually transmitted infections, it is important to visit your GP or sexual health clinic to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment will then depend on what the underlying cause is.
In all cases, you should keep your penis clean and dry by thoroughly washing it with warm water at least once a day. Avoid using soaps which may irritate the skin.
- If your balanitis is caused by a fungal infection, it should be treated with an anti-fungal cream, which is applied daily for at least two weeks. Alternatively, your GP may prescribe an antifungal tablet.
- If your balanitis is caused by a bacterial infection, your GP will prescribe a course of of antibiotics.
- If your balanitis is caused by a skin condition, such as psoriasis, or other skin irritation rather than an infection, your GP can prescribe a topical corticosteroid. This is a steroid cream or ointment that should be applied to the head of your penis once a day until your symptoms have cleared up. It should not be applied for more than 14 days, as it can cause a thinning of the skin.
- With all of these treatments, you should see an improvement in your symptoms within 7 days. If this doesn’t happen, see your GP again. They may need to carry out further tests or refer you to a specialist. If your balanitis is caused by an allergy, your doctor can arrange a test to identify what is causing the allergic reaction.
Although balanitis itself is not contagious, some of the underlying causes, such as STIs, fungal or bacterial infections are contagious. If your partner has a yeast infection, such as thrush, it is important that you both get treated to avoid re-infecting each other.
If you have a tight foreskin (phimosis) and often suffer from balanitis, your GP may recommend a partial circumcision (removal of some of your foreskin) to help alleviate the condition.