A red penis can be a funny thing: when it resembles a healthy red glow, it indicates a member that is in a high-functioning state. However, when the redness is more like an inflammation, it may very well be a sign of a penis health issue. For men who are intact, that redness may be a symptom of balanoposthitis and good penis care requires that attention be paid to this possibility.
What is balanoposthitis?
Many men have heard of balanitis. This is an inflammation of the glans, or head, of the penis. Fewer men are familiar with posthitis. This is a condition only found in intact men, in which the foreskin is inflamed. It is not uncommon for balanitis and posthitis to occur at the same time; when this happens, the condition is referred to by the join term balanoposthitis.
What are its symptoms?
Although inflammation is often mentioned when discussing balanoposthitis, there can be more signs of the condition than just a red penis. Among the other common symptoms associated with balanoposthitis are:
– Soreness and tenderness in the area, especially when touched. This can often interfere significantly with a man’s sex life.
– Subpreputial discharge, which is a wetness, often thick and sometimes odorous, which is found underneath the foreskin.
– Phimosis. This is a tightness of the foreskin such that retraction is painful and/or difficult.
– Open sores in the area.
– Lower back pain.
– Rashes on the foreskin and/or glans.
There can be any number of causes of balanoposthitis, both infectious and non-infectious. Some of the causes can be serious. For example, it’s one of the side effects of STIs like chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea. Herpes simplex and lichen planus, an abnormal immune system response, are also possible culprits. However, most doctors report that balanoposthitis is more commonly the result of dermatological issues, such as inadequate hygiene, contact dermatitis or psoriasis. Candidiasis, or thrush, is also a common cause of balanoposthitis. Thrush is a yeast infection which is often accompanied by serious itching and rashes.
Prevention and treatment
Balanoposthitis can cause significant discomfort, especially when it presents with phimosis. Because of this, taking steps to treat or prevent it is recommended.
Treatment depends on the root cause of the balanoposthitis. For example, when an STI is involved, that condition will need to be addressed immediately. Antibiotics, antifungals and steroid creams may be recommended by a doctor in some cases.
One of the most effective ways to prevent this condition is to practice good hygiene. This includes washing the penis regularly, using a mild cleanser that does not irritate the skin or contain harsh chemicals and/or fragrances. It’s important for intact men to wash under the foreskin as well as on top and to gently dry the entire area. Washing soon after engaging in sexual activity is also a good idea.
Other preventive measures include always using a condom when engaging in partner-based sex and discussing sexual histories with partners.