Balanitis- Overview

Balanitis is the inflammation of the head of the penis and the foreskin of the penis, in some cases. It is not a sexually transmitted disease though many people tend to confuse it as one, since it occurs on the male genitalia. 

It is more prevalent in men with uncircumcised penis, since it does occur to poor hygiene and lack of proper cleaning of the area beneath the foreskin. But many studies have showed that men with circumcised penis must also be very careful and must be monitored for the problem.

Posthitis is the inflammation of the prepuce. Balanitis condition and Posthitis condition might occur simultaneously resulting in a condition called balanoposthitis.

Balanitis though occurs due to poor hygiene, it can also occur due to injuries, accidents and some sort of infection. It has a variety of symptoms like irritation on the penis, foul discharge, redness of skin around the infected region and of course pain the in foreskin. It is curable and it does not lead to death. 

Check the various information on Symptoms, preventive measures, diagnosis and treatments on the different pages, the links to which are seen towards the side.

Balanitis- Types

There are many types of Balanitis:

Zoon Balanitis:  Its a cutaneous condition characterized by a benign inflammatory skin lesion characterized histologically by a plasma cell infiltrate. It is named after J.J Zoon who characterized it in 1952

It is also known as "Balanoposthitis chronica circumscripta plasmacellularis," "Balanitis circumscripta plasmacellularis," "Plasma cell balanitis," "Plasma cell vulvitis," "Vulvitis circumscripta plasmacellularis," "Zoon's balanitis," "Zoon's erythroplasia," and "Zoon's vulvitis" 

A similar condition has been described in women although its existence is controversial due to the possibility of diagnostic error in many of the cases that have been reported in the medical literature

Zoon Balanitis is an idiopathic, rare, benign penile dermatosis. Circumcision is often the preferred treatment. 

It has been successfully treated with the carbon dioxide laser. Recently however Albertini and colleagues report the avoidance of circumcision and successful treatment of Zoon's balanitis with an Er:YAG laser. 

Another study, by Retamar and colleagues, found that 40 percent of those treated with CO2 laser relapsed.

Pseudoepitheliomatous keratotic and micaceous balanitis: It is a cutaneous condition characterized by skin lesions on the glans penis. It can be seen as a cutaneous horn in some cases. They are wart-like with scaling.

Circinate balantitis: It is a serpiginous annular dermatitis associated with Reiter's syndrome. It is also known as balanitis circinata.

Possible complications

It can make it difficult and in many cases very painful to even retract the foreskin. This condition is called phimosis. More information on Phimosis can be seen online.

Inflammation can make it difficult to reposition the foreskin over the head of the penis. This condition is called paraphimosis.

The swelling can affect the blood supply to the tip of the penis and in very rare cases, certain individuals might even report inability to achieve erection during intercourse (though this is very rare).

Scaring, Phimosis and Para Phimosis are major problems which has to be given proper attention and treated as soon as possible.

Balanitis caused by accidents or injuries of some sort can have a variety of complications on its own.

Only way to prevent the inflammation from getting complicated is to consult a doctor as early as possible, right after the symptoms occur and go through the treatment in earnest. By hesitating to talk about the problem with friends and family and postponing meeting with the doctor can only lead the problem to get more and more complicated.