Balanitis is an inflammation of the glans or the head of the penis due to infection or another cause. Balanitis can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful but it is not serious usally. It is a common condition in boys under the age of 4 years and uncircumcised men are at the highest risk but it can happen at any age. Women can also have balanitis, as the term is used to describe an inflammation of the clitoris.
SYMPTOMS OF BALANITIS
- Tight, shiny skin on the glans
- Redness around the glans
- Inflammation, soreness, itchiness, or irritation of the glans
- A thick, lumpy discharge under the foreskin
- An unpleasant smell
- Tight foreskin that cannot be pulled back
- Painful urination
- Swollen glands near the penis
- Sores on the glans
Soreness, irritation, and discharge may occur under the foreskin 2 to 3 days after sexual intercourse.
TYPES OF BALANITIS
There are three types of balanitis:
Zoon’s balanitis : Inflammation of the head of the penis and the foreskin. Usually affects middle-aged to older men who have not been circumcised.
Circinate balanitis : Normally occurs as a result of reactive arthritis.
Pseudoepitheliomatous keratotic and micaceous balanitis: Characterized by scaly, wart-like skin lesions on the head of the penis.
Infection with Candida albicans is the most common cause Candida is the fungus that causes thrush.
Other infections that can cause balanitis include:
- Bacteria-These can multiply rapidly in the moist and warm conditions under the foreskin
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)- Examples include Herpes simplex virus, Chlamydia, and syphilis.
Lichen planus a skin disease with small,itchy, pink or purple spots on the arms or legs
- Eczema, a chronic or long-term, skin condition that can lead to itchy, reddened, cracked, and dry skin
- Psoriasis, a dry, scaly skin disorder
- Dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin, due to direct contact with an irritant or an allergic reaction
In very rare cases, balanitis has been linked to skin cancer.
Irritation of the skin of the glans can lead to inflammation.
- Chemicals used in condoms,lubricants and spermicides
- Detergents or washing powders and fabric conditioners that are not completely rinsed
- Perfumed soaps and shower gels
Washing daily and drying the penis carefully so no moisture remains under the foreskin helps reduce the risk, although excessive genital washing with soap may aggravate the condition.
Diabetes -increases the risk of infections especially if blood sugar levels are poorly controlled. If glucose is present in urine, some of it may remain on the foreskin. Glucose helps bacteria multiply more quickly.
Phimosis- is when the foreskin is too tight and it is difficult or impossible to retract it or pull it back fully over the glans. Sweat, urine, and other substances can accumulate under the foreskin, causing irritation and allowing germs to multiply. Phimosis is rare in teenage and adult males.
Unprotected sex, poor hygiene and having a urinary catheter also increase the risk. A woman who has vaginal thrush can infect a man, increasing the risk of developing balanitis.
COMPLICATIONS OF BALANITIS
Balanitis is easy to treat but complications can occur in some cases.
These may include:
- Scarring of the opening of the penis
- Inadequate blood supply to the penis
- Retracting the foreskin is painful
A foreskin that does not retract can be the result of long-term, untreated balanitis.
The earlier treatment is sought, the better the outlook will be.
PREVENTION OF BALANITIS
To prevent infections the head of the penis and the foreskin should be kept clean and dry. Daily washing, with particular attention to cleaning the penis, is essential.
Here are some hygiene tips:
- The foreskin should be pulled back so that the glans is exposed.
- The area should be washed thoroughly and gently with warm water. Soap may irritate, so it should be avoided.
- An aqueous cream or some other neutral nonsoap cleanser may be used, but it should be completely rinsed off.
- Before replacing the foreskin, the glans should be completely dry.
- Men who tend to develop balanitis after sex should wash their penis after engaging in sexual activity.
- Clean the penis every day.
- Do not use soap or bubble bath or anything that could act as an irritant.
- After peeing, dry underneath the foreskin gently.
If symptoms appear to be linked to substances present in condoms or lubricants, there are condoms available for sensitive skin.
It is best to use non-biological washing powder for underwear and to make sure all the detergent is rinsed out. People who work with chemicals or have traces of potential irritants on their hands should wash them before using the bathroom.
HOMOEOPATHIC MEDICINE FOR BALANITIS
APIS MEL : Useful medicine for balanitis with marked inflammation and swelling of glans.Given for inflammed foreskin attended with an intense burning and stinging pains.There is thin discharge which may present under the foreskin.Useful for painful urination with
CALADIUM : Useful for cases of balanitis with marked redness of glans.Given when glans is covered with reddish spots and there is marked dryness.Very useful for foreskin which is swollen and sore especially along the margins.There is biting pain while urinating.
MERC SOL : Useful for balanitis where there is marked swelling and painful sensitivity of the glans and the prepuce.There is small vesicles present on the glans and prepuce. There may be oozing of fluid from these vesicles along with a burning sensation.Also useful for thin milk-like discharge under glans penis. Severe burning on urination may also be felt.
RHUSTOX : Useful for balanitis where there is dark red swelling of the glans and prepuce which is attended with a lot of pain.Th is itching and stinging sensation on the prepuce.Also given for moist vesicles.
CINNABARIS : Useful for Balanitis where there is itching attended with redness and swelling of the glans and prepuce.There is fetid, yellow-green discharge under the prepuce.
SULPHUR : Useful for balanitis where there is marked itching and burning on the glans and prepuce. There is swellling and redness in glans and prepuce with discharge of fetid pus.Also useful for offensive sweat which is present around the genitals in most cases.There is copious secretion of fetid smegma may be present.
NITRIC ACID : Very effective medicine for balanitis where reddish spots appear on the glans along with moisture.There is foul,smelling moisture from glans and small pimples may appear on the glans penis.Given for inflammed and swollen with soreness.There is burning, sticking or tearing pains may appear in the foreskin along with the presence of itchy vesicles.
RHODODENDRON : Very useful for cases of balanitis along with throbbing and shooting pain under the glans.There is crushing pain felt in glans penis with swollen and enormously distended like a bladder.There is slight discharge from the glans.