Skip navigation and jump to content
Welcome to Ireland's Youth Information Website
Follow us
Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Snapchat

Accessibility Options

High Contrast Text Size

What is balanitis?

Balanitis is an inflammation of the head of the penis


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


Share this article -

Balanitis is an inflammation of the head of the penis, and often, the foreskin. It is very common, and it is estimated that 1 in 10 men who visit a sexual health clinic have balanitis.

How do you get balanitis?

Balanitis is caused by a fungus. This can develop because of:

  • Failing to wash the penis
  • Not drying the penis properly after washing
  • Using perfumed shower gels or soaps that irritate the penis
  • Weakened immune system (sometimes as a result of HIV or diabetes)
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including genital herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhoea

How do I know if I have it?

You must be diagnosed by a doctor or sexual health clinic.

Symptoms of balanitis include:

  • Red skin around the head of the penis
  • Swelling of the head of the penis
  • Pain and itchiness around the head of the penis
  • An unpleasant odour
  • Thick discharge under the foreskin
  • Pain when peeing
  • Pain during sex

If you experiencing any of these symptoms, you should go to your GP or a sexual health clinic. You can find a list of free sexual health clinics here.

How to treat balanitis

If you experiencing symptoms of balanitis, you should go to your doctor of an STI clinic. Balanitis is usually treated with an over-the-counter cream that you apply to the affected areas. You usually do not require a prescription for this.  

In case of infection, you will be prescribed antibiotics.

How to prevent balanitis

Some tips that can help prevent balanitis include:

  • Regularly washing your penis and under the foreskin with warm water when you shower
  • Avoiding using perfumed or scented shower gels or soaps on your penis
  • Completely drying the penis after you shower
  • Using a condom every time you have sex

Find out what to expect when visiting an STI clinic here.

Share this article -

Published Feb­ru­ary 4th2016
Last updated July 4th2018
Tags men's health penis
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

Need more information?

Request to speak with a youth worker in your area over the phone, by email or text. They may be able to assist you by providing further information specific to your needs.

Youth Work Ireland - Crosscare - YMCA

Contact via: Phone E-mail Text
By clicking submit you agree to our terms and conditions. ​Please note that this service is run by Youth Work Ireland and Crosscare​.​ E​nquiries are not handled by SpunOut.ie directly.
Jump to related articles
Was this article helpful?

Having a tough time and need to talk?
Text SPUNOUT to 086 1800 280 to chat anonymously with a trained volunteer

Standard text rates may apply*