Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD Patient Handout


About Your Diagnosis
Balanitis is the most common cause of swelling of the penis. It may also involve the foreskin. It can be caused by infection from bacteria or yeast. Sometimes this infection is transmitted by a sexual partner with a yeast infection. It can also be caused by an allergic reaction to clothing, creams, lotions, or medications. Cuts, tears, or wounds of the penis can lead to balanitis. Men with diabetes, poor hygiene, and those with foreskin (uncircumcised) are more likely to get balanitis.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Initially there may be either swelling of the head of the penis or foreskin. Both may occur at the same time. The foreskin can become red, swollen, and tender. If untreated, the shaft of the penis may become involved, and blisters and ulcers can form. Difficulty or burning during urination can occur.

Mild cases require bed rest and elevation and an antibiotic cream applied to affected areas. Antibiotics by mouth are frequently given in more severe
cases and in diabetics. Sometimes steroid creams are prescribed to decrease swelling.

The DOs
• Take Tylenol for pain or fever.
• Use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream applied twice a day for a few days unless directed otherwise by your doctor.
• If you are a diabetic, maintain excellent diet control and take all diabetic medications as prescribed.
• Avoid vigorous exercise if the balanitis is painful.
• If symptoms are severe, rest and elevation of the penis by lying in bed on your back can be helpful.
• Cleanse the penis with warm water a few times per day. Once you are able, gently retract the foreskin and cleanse your penis and foreskin with warm water. This should be done every time after you urinate. Once you are better continue to do this a few times per day to prevent recurrences.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t take hot baths or showers; this can worsen your symptoms.
• Don’t have sex or use condoms while the penis is swollen.
• Don’t eat sweets if you are diabetic.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If swelling continues to worsen in spite of treatment.
• If not improved in 3 or 4 days.
• If difficulty producing urine occurs, or if blood or pus is present in the urine.
• If balanitis recurs.