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Balanitis affects males and is the inflammation of the end of the penis called the glans. Many germs live on the skin in small numbers and do not cause any harm. Sometimes they can multiply quickly and cause an infection such as candida (or the balanitis can also be caused by a bacterial infection).
In males, the skin of the glans is particularly sensitive and may become inflamed if it comes into contact with certain chemicals or other substances. Indeed, an infection is even more likely in males who are not circumcised and/or may have other medical problems. Symptoms include redness, irritation and soreness of the end of the penis (the glans).
Sometimes the foreskin can be inflamed at the same time. There can be a small patch of redness on part of the skin surface of the glans or the whole glans can become red, swollen and painful. There is sometimes a discharge from under the foreskin. This discharge has the appearance of thick clumps. There may also be some pain when urinating.
Some of the chemicals and other substances that may cause irritation are:
* Perfumed soaps and shower gels.
* Overwashing or scrubbing
* The chemicals found in some condoms, spermicides and lubricants.
* Chemicals which may spill on your hands and are then spread to the penis when going to the toilet
* The residue from some washing powers or fabric softeners used when washing underwear.
In addition, bad hygiene can cause old skin, urine, sweat and other matter to collect under the foreskin of the penis. This in turn may irritate the glans and lead to inflammation.
Some of the other conditions (including medical conditions) that can cause an infection to develop are:
* Diabetes – if the diabetic male does not have his disease well controlled, glucose can pass out in the urine leaving drops on the foreskin.
* Phimosis – this is a condition in which the foreskin cannot be pulled back fully over the glans and therefore washing is more difficult – although rare in teenage boys and men, it is normal in young boys up to the age of around five.
* Sexual intercourse with a woman who has vaginal thrush.
* Taking a course of antibiotics for another medical condition.
If the balanitis is caused by a bacterial infection , then you may need a course of antibiotics. If the balanitis is caused by a candida infection, then it can be treated in the same way as any other yeast infection but remember that if your partner has vaginal thrush, then you both need treatment to avoid re-infecting each other. Refrain from having sex, or use a condom, while the infection is being treated. Most cases will clear up in just a few days.
Other forms of fungal infections are Jock Itch, Athlete's Foot and Nail Fungus.