What is Balanoposthitis?
Balanoposthitis occurs when the foreskin and glans of the penis become inflamed. The foreskin is a portion of movable skin of the penis while the glans is the rounded tip of the penis. Balanoposthitis occurs only in uncircumcised males since the foreskin is completely removed during circumcision. Poor hygiene and tight foreskin are believed to be the reasons behind Balanoposthitis. This condition does not have any age barrier and people of any age can get it. They can also be caused due to bacterial and fungal issues around the penis.[1,2]
Balanoposthitis is a treatable condition and the main focus of treatment is to clear the infection and prevent any recurrence of inflammation. However, if a person has recurrent Balanoposthitis, then circumcision is recommended as a mode of treatment. Some people misinterpret Balanoposthitis with balanitis which is inflammation of the glans penis or the clitoris.[1,2]
What Causes Balanoposthitis?
The primary cause of Balanoposthitis is believed to be infections aside from poor hygiene. Some of the infections that can cause Balanoposthitis include yeast infection in the penis, chlamydia, sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea, HPV virus, herpes, and trichomoniasis.[1,2]
Yeast infections of the penis are perhaps the most common cause of Balanoposthitis. They are caused by candida. There are also certain noninfectious conditions that also cause Balanoposthitis. These include eczema, trauma or injuries, skin irritation due to constant rubbing or scratching, chemical exposure, and psoriasis. Certain activities that are done on a daily basis can also cause Balanoposthitis.
Swimmers who spend a lot of time in the pool are at an increased risk for Balanoposthitis due to the amount of chlorine present in the water. In some cases, people get Balanoposthitis after a rough sexual intercourse or use of condoms.
What are the Symptoms of Balanoposthitis?
The symptoms of Balanoposthitis are variable and range from mild to severe. All the symptoms and signs can be seen near the head of the penis and foreskin. It becomes very discomforting for men to indulge in sexual activity or when voiding. The most common symptoms of Balanoposthitis include irritation with pain around the foreskin and glans. The skin looks dry, shiny and discolored.
At times, there is also a severe urge to itch the area. There are also some cases where a person can observe an abnormal discharge from the penis with a foul smell. The foreskin also becomes very tight and it is very difficult to move the foreskin. The symptoms of Balanoposthitis usually depend on the cause of it and tend to differ from person to person.
How is Balanoposthitis Treated?
The treatment of Balanoposthitis depends on the cause of it. Generally, if a cause is identified and treated, the symptoms automatically resolve. In cases where Balanoposthitis is idiopathic or the cause is unknown the treatment focuses on minimizing the discomfort especially during sex and when voiding. The frontline mode of treatment for Balanoposthitis is antibiotics and antifungal medications. Corticosteroids are also sometimes used effectively to treat the symptoms.[1,2]
However, much attention should be paid on practicing good hygiene with cleaning the penile area with water and avoid use of any harsh chemicals or soaps. Topical antibiotics like metronidazole and antifungals like clotrimazole in the cream form to be applied topically are quite an effective way to treat Balanoposthitis.
The prognosis with treatment for Balanoposthitis is quite good with complete resolution of the condition. However, without proper treatment or not getting a favorable response to treatment results in further examination and tests to get to the bottom of the cause and then treating it accordingly. In rare instances, failure to respond to appropriate treatment often points towards a possible malignant issue at play. This in turn prompts a biopsy to rule out any primary or secondary malignancies causing the symptoms.
For people who are immune compromised the chances of a fungal infection involving the penis are quite high. In such cases, the lesions are pretty deep and ulcerative. The primary treatment focuses on clearing the infection with the only possible serious complication being fungal septicemia which is quite a serious condition which leads to development of Balanoposthitis.