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Balanitis is disease affects the head of the male genital organ and its foreskin. It is not usually serious but still requires medical attention. Doctors know how to diagnose this condition through a physical examination, but occasionally a dermatologist or urologist needs to rule out more serious problems. Men and boys who are uncircumcised are much more likely to suffer from balanitis. Some religious beliefs require circumcision, but the desire to avoid such health problems also encourages some secular people to get a hospital circumcision. The British royal family is probably the best known of all the people who have circumcisions for reasons unconnected with their religious belief.

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Characteristic signs of skin irritation

This condition causes the male organ to emit a foul smell, and it becomes very sore and itchy. The skin turns reddish. Other common symptoms include the appearance of a thick fluid on the organ, painful urination. Some adults may find that they cannot pull back their foreskin. This is a sign of the related illness called phimosis. This condition normally responds well to treatment within a week. If it persists, it could indicate the presence of an infection or a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

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Who is most likely to develop this condition?

Medical statistics reveal how balanitis is a relatively common problem, and it affects males in all age groups. It is most likely to strike at boys under the age of four, and men who are uncircumcised. Researchers estimate that approximately 4% of boys and 3% of uncircumcised men get this disease at some times in their lives. Although it might also affect circumcised men, these cases are so extremely rare as to be statistically insignificant.

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Good hygiene practices help to treat this illness

You can treat balanitis yourself by keeping some basic hygiene guidelines. If a baby suffers from this balanitis, make sure to change their diapers frequently, and abstain from cleaning this area of their body with wet wraps. Someone with this condition needs to wash the affected area in warm water and avoid bringing it into contact with soaps or shampoos that worsen the irritation. To maintain bodily cleanliness replace regular soap with one of the emollients available from your local pharmacy.

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Doctors commonly prescribe medical creams

Those who visit the doctor with this condition usually receive a prescription for a medical cream. If the doctor diagnoses it as a straightforward skin irritation case, they will probably prescribe a steroid cream. Alternatively, if it seems to be a yeast infection, an antifungal cream is more effective. The doctor could also give this medication in the form of tablets. A bacterial infection is another possible diagnosis, and antibiotic medicine is a treatment favored in this situation.

creams balanitis

When doctors recommend circumcision

Most people know of circumcision as a religious practice, but it also has its medical value treating some rare balanitis cases. For example, if a boy suffers from repeated bouts of balanitis the doctor might recommend circumcision as a solution. Statistics on favored treatments place circumcision well down the list of doctors' preferences, so if a doctor advocates this operation, you can be confident that this is the best approach to take in that patient's case.

circumcision balanitis

People with diabetes are more at risk

People with diabetes are one of the groups who are most at risk of getting balanitis if they fail to keep their diabetes under tight control. This condition develops if their urine contains high amounts of sugar. Microscopic sugar deposits in the urine could become lodged behind the foreskin and provide a good environment for germs to develop. Obviously, when you weight up the health dangers people with diabetes face, this unpleasant condition is not one of the most dangerous, but it provides another good motivation for effective diabetes management.

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Could be a consequence of a sexually transmitted disease

In the case of some patients, balanitis develops after they get a sexually transmitted disease, for example, gonorrhea. Passing urine is likely to be one of the symptoms in these cases, and it is possible that they will experience a discharge from the urethra. Treatment in these situations usually requires a course of antibiotics to destroy the germs from the STD. The use of condoms can also lead to balanitis.

STI balanitis

Balanitis or some other skin disease?

Sometimes it is possible for the doctor to misdiagnose balanitis as a skin disease or vice versa. It is not always so simple to differentiate since some skin diseases may cause balanitis. The balanitis needs treating together with the skin disease that triggered it. Most times the doctor successfully discovers the causes of this health issue through a visual inspection. For example, if the disease comes because of a yeast infection the inflammation has a characteristic appearance that the doctor easily recognizes.

skin disease balanitis

Might occur due to an allergic reaction

Allergic reactions to various substances can also cause balanitis. This might happen to a man who works with chemicals that occasionally spill onto his hands. He might not be so careful to wash off every residue of the chemicals if he knows they are not dangerous. However, if his hands are not clean when he goes to the bathroom, he risks getting balanitis. A more common case occurs when the condition develops due to an allergy to washing powder or perhaps a conditioner used on underwear. Successful treatment depends on correctly identifying and eliminating the source of the allergy in all of these instances.

allergic balanitis

When the condition fails to respond to regular treatment

The majority of patients find that the medications the doctor prescribes bring relief from this condition within a week. If the cure fails to materialize, the patient needs to return to the doctor for advice. The doctor needs to make additional investigations in this situation. For example, they might pass on the case to a dermatologist (skin specialist), test the patient for diabetes or start testing for allergies.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.