Proud owner of a foreskin? The day may come when it gets red, itchy, and inflamed. If it does, you’re gonna want to know which household appliance to reach for.
“An inflamed, itchy penis and foreskin, a.k.a. Balanitis, is common in uncircumcised men,” says Jeffrey Katz, MD, a family physician at ZOOM+Care in Portland, Oregon. “It has two typical triggers.”It can happen when you don't wash enough. “If you don't clean under your foreskin properly, it's likely to get invaded by unwanted bacteria or yeast,” says Katz. "That leads to infection, swelling, itching, and sensitivity."But hold on to your loofah, because washing too much can also trigger balanitis.. “Harsh soaps and scrubbing strip away healthy oils and bacteria," says Kats. "It also creates micro-abrasions in the skin that become infected,” says Katz.
“In the shower, pull back your foreskin and clean under it with unscented soap, then rinse thoroughly,” says Katz. “When you get out, pull the foreskin back again and gently pat the head of your penis dry — rubbing vigorously with a towel can damage the skin, not to mention make you late for work.”
You can't tell if a red, itchy penis is the victim of bacteria or yeast just by looking at it. Get to a doctor, who will take a culture and get you on the right course of treatment.“The best thing for yeast is an anti-fungal cream, plus keeping the penis dry,” says Katz. “I recommend blow-drying it. A hair-dryer on its lowest setting will eliminate moisture without causing more damage.”Bacterial balanitis is usually treated with antibiotics plus steroid creams to reduce inflammation. Without treatment, symptoms can worsen to the point where the foreskin can't retract. “Most guys don’t let things go that far,” says Katz. “If something is wrong with their penis, they head to a doctor pretty fast.”Having penis problems of any kind? Schedule a same-day, no-wait visit for illness/injury.[Photo by Kyle Topping, via Burst]