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Balanitis

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Balanitis is swelling of the foreskin and head of the penis.

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Causes
Balanitis is most often caused by poor hygiene in uncircumcised men. Other possible causes include:
Exams and Tests
Your health care provider may be diagnosed the problem with only an exam. However, you may need skin tests for viruses, fungi, or bacteria. A skin biopsy may also be needed.

Treatment
Treatment depends on the cause of the balanitis. Circumcision may be the best option in severe cases. If you cannot pull back (retract) the foreskin to clean it, you may need to be circumcised.

Outlook (Prognosis)
Most cases of balanitis can be controlled with medicated creams and good hygiene. Surgery is not needed most of the time.

Possible Complications
Long-term inflammation or infection can:
When to Contact a Medical Professional
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 the foreskin to clean and dry the area under it.

Alternative Names
Balanoposthitis

References
Elder JS. Anomalies of the penis and urethra. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics . 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 538.

Link RE. Cutaneous diseases of the external genitalia. In:Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology . 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 15. 

Jordan GH. McCammon KA. Surgery of the penis and urethra. In:Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology . 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 36. 

Update Date: 10/2/2013
Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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