If you are uncircumcised, and are experiencing swelling of the head of the penis along with the foreskin, you may be suffering from balanitis. It is also known as balanoposthitis. This usually occurs when the area underneath the foreskin is not washed regularly. Bacteria and sweat can build up causing irritation. Another cause is an allergy to certain soaps or personal care products. These can cause the head of the penis–the glands to swell. A yeast infection can also cause this disorder to occur. Arthritis may be at the root of the problem. It can also happen as a result of a sexually transmitted infection (STI). People with certain conditions such as diabetes mellitus are more likely to develop balanitis. Symptoms include itching, redness, pain and irritation of the penis. Some experience a malodorous discharge as well. If you believe you may have balanitis or are experiencing any of these symptoms, see a healthcare professional right away.
Balanitis is diagnosed through taking the person’s medical history, and performing a physical exam. No further tests are generally required. If an underlying health problem is at fault, the doctor may request blood work to be done. When hygiene is at issue, there may be need for some retraining on how to pull back and clean the foreskin and the area beneath. Changing the soap you use to a milder version can also help, especially if it is caused by an allergy. Generally speaking, to clear up the issue a topical cream is prescribed. For STIs as the root cause, an antibiotic may also be administered. If the problem chronically returns, the physician might suggest circumcision as a way to prevent future infection of the foreskin. For most causes however, balanitis can be prevented. Usually this condition is nothing to worry about so long as you seek out medical attention. Be sure to seek out a physician if you believe you may have balanitis.