Dermatology/Foreskin

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Question
The issue
The issue  
Hi I'm 15 and my foreskin is very red and inflamed. I have no pain urineating or anything but it can sometimes be quite tight. I just wanted to know if this is will go away or should it be treated.

Answer
Balanitis is swelling (inflammation) of the foreskin and head of the penis.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
possible causes include:

Diseases such as reactive arthritis and lichen sclerosis et atrophicus
Infection
Harsh soaps
Not rinsing soap off properly while bathing
Uncontrolled diabetes
Symptoms
Trauma or irritation as in sex or masturbation

Redness of foreskin or penis
Other rashes on the head of the penis
Painful penis and foreskin
Signs and tests

Your health care provider may be able to diagnose your balanitis by examination alone. However, you may need skin tests for viruses, fungi, or bacteria. Sometimes, a skin biopsy is needed.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause of the balanitis. For example, balanitis that is caused by bacteria may be treated with antibiotic pills or creams. Balanitis that occurs with skin diseases may respond to steroid creams. Anti-fungal creams will be prescribed if it is due to a fungus.


Expectations (prognosis)

Most cases of balanitis can be controlled with medicated creams and good hygiene. Surgery is not usually needed.

Complications

Long-term inflammation or infection can:
Scar and narrow the opening of the penis (meatal stricture)
Affect the blood supply to the tip of the penis
Calling your health care provider

Tell your health care provider if you have any signs of balanitis, including swelling of the foreskin or pain.

Prevention

Good hygiene can prevent most cases of balanitis. When you bathe, pull back (retract) the foreskin to clean and dry the area under it. Avoidance of irritation or trauma to the penis.  

Dermatology

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Michael S. Fisher, <B>Ph.D., M.D.</B>

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