Image of penis showing glans

Balanitis is an inflammation of the head of the penis. It can happen if there's a buildup of germs under the foreskin. These germs could be bacteria, viruses, or fungi. It can also occur from exposure to soaps and other chemicals. In adults, this is most often a complication of diabetes. It can also be due to obesity or poor genital cleaning habits.

If not treated right away, this can lead to a condition called phimosis. This means you can't pull back the foreskin from the head of the penis.

Symptoms of balanitis may include:

  • Penis pain or soreness

  • Discharge

  • Inability to retract the foreskin

  • Trouble peeing

  • Inability to get an erection (erectile dysfunction or impotence)

Home care

The following guidelines will help you care for your condition at home:

  • If you can retract your foreskin:

    • Children. Retract the foreskin and clean with water. Put antibiotic cream or ointment on the penis 3 times a day.

    • Adults. Retract the foreskin and clean with water. Apply clotrimazole cream to the penis 3 times a day unless another medicine was prescribed. You can buy this cream over the counter. Don't have sex while being treated.

    • Sitz baths. Soak the penis and foreskin in warm water while there is inflammation.

  • If you have diabetes, talk with your healthcare provider about keeping your diabetes in good control.

  • If you're overweight, talk with your provider about a weight-loss plan.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • You can't return the retracted foreskin to the forward position (get medical care right away)

  • You can't retract the foreskin

  • Your symptoms get worse

  • Urine flow is partly or fully blocked

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