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Balanitis (inflammation of the glans) and posthitis (inflammation of the foreskin)

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Balanitis (inflammation of the glans) and posthitis (inflammation of the foreskin) often occur together. Typical symptoms are pain, burning, itching and reddening of the skin.

Posthitis and balanitis can be wholedifferent causes to have. They are most often caused by an infection with fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms.

What are balanitis and posthitis?

  • At aBalanitisthe glans of the penis is inflamed.
  • at aPosthitisthe foreskin or the inner foreskin layer (posthion) of the penis is inflamed.

Glansitis and foreskin inflammation usually occur in combination on. Then doctors speak of oneBalanoposthitis.

Balanitis & Posthitis: Symptoms

Typical symptoms of balanitis (inflammation of the glans) / posthitis (inflammation of the foreskin):

Glans or foreskin

In addition, point or area skin changes can be seen and the skin can ooze. Some people suffer from purulent discharge and whitish deposits on the glans. In rare cases an ulcer forms.

For chronic skin diseasesBalanitis xerotica obliterans (also: Lichen sclerosus) caused by the inflammation adhesions, which can lead to a narrowing of the foreskin.

Balanitis & Posthitis: Causes

Balanitis (inflammation of the glans) and posthitis (inflammation of the foreskin) can cause manyvarious causes to have. One can roughly distinguish between

  • theinfectiousBalanitis / posthitiscaused by pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and fungi, and
  • thenon-infectious balanitis / posthitiscaused, for example, by a contact allergy, drugs or excessive hygiene.

If glans or foreskin inflammation occurs in the context of othersSkin or general diseases on, doctors speak of onesecondary Balanitis / posthitis.

Infectious balanitis / posthitis

Are commonPathogens responsible for an inflammation of the glans or foreskin. Possible pathogens include

A bacterial inflammation can develop, for example, as part of a syphilis infection. The pathogens are primarily throughSexual contacts transmitted and / or they multiply throughpoor genital hygiene.

Non-infectious balanitis / posthitis

In addition to pathogens, balanitis and posthitis can alsoother causes to have. These include, for example

Variousskin- and general illnesses can trigger an inflammation of the foreskin or glans, for example

Risk factors

Certain factors increase the risk of developing balanitis or posthitis. These include, for example

  • aConstriction of the foreskin(Phimosis): In the case of phimosis, the foreskin cannot be pulled back over the glans of the penis, or only with difficulty. The result: the urine builds up under the foreskin, which promotes bacterial infections. A foreskin constriction can be congenital or develop in the course of life.
  • lack of hygiene: If there is insufficient hygiene, a whitish-yellow, sebum-like substance accumulates between the glans and the inner foreskin: thatSmegma. Smegma consists of dead skin cells, the secretion of sebum glands and residues of urine and semen. It forms a good breeding ground for any type of pathogen.

Other factors that increase the risk of glans or foreskin infection include:

  • moist conditions that can soften the tissue (e.g. narrowing of the foreskin),
  • mechanical influences (e.g. repeated friction with frequent sexual activity),
  • frequent washing with soap and application of disinfectants, which increasingly removes oil from the skin,
  • older age, as the top layer of skin is thinner due to age,
  • excessive multiplication of pathogens that are already present or that have been transmitted (e.g. through sexual intercourse),
  • tight clothes and
  • being very overweight (obese).

Balanitis & Posthitis: Diagnosis

The doctor can often already diagnose balanitis (inflammation of the glans) and / or posthitis (inflammation of the foreskin)typical symptoms diagnose. In order to get to the bottom of the cause, he will want to know, for example,

  • how long the complaints have existed,
  • whether certain diseases are known, such as diabetes mellitus or allergies and
  • whether mechanical irritation could be the cause.

In thephysical exam the inflamed area appears red and swollen. Lymph nodes in the groin area can also be enlarged.

If the doctor suspects that a certain pathogen is the cause of the inflammation, he will try to detect the pathogen, for example with the help of aSmear on the glans and foreskin. The doctor uses a cotton swab to take a sample from the inflamed area, which is then examined in the laboratory. A urine test can also be useful. If the pathogen is known, the doctor can fight it specifically, for example with antibiotics if it is a bacterial infection.

Depending on the cause the doctor suspects, further examinations can be useful - for example an allergy test if a contact allergy is likely.

Balanitis & Posthitis: Therapy

For balanitis (inflammation of the glans) or posthitis (inflammation of the foreskin), the therapy depends on what caused the inflammation. Above all, it is important to eliminate possible triggering factors.

Generally candisinfecting hip baths with chamomile and antiseptic solutions inhibit inflammation.Ointmentswith active ingredients such as dexpanthenol can provide relief from symptoms such as burning or itching.

On alkaline soaps and disinfectants should you dispense. Maintain thorough, but not excessive, hygiene and use low-fat lotions or solutions for maintenance.

Treatment of infectious balanitis / posthitis

To havePathogens Just as bacteria caused the inflammation, it is important to eliminate these pathogens in a targeted manner. If you have a bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic. If fungi (e.g. Candida) are the cause of balanitis / posthitis, fungicidal agents, so-called antimycotics, are used.

Usually no tablets are needed. Applying an antibiotic ointment or antifungal cream to the area is usually sufficient. If an inflammation of the foreskin or glans has spread, treatment withTablets or oneImmunotherapy to be necessary.

If you have infectious balanitis and / or posthitis and are sexually active, therapy is availablenot just for you advisable: In most cases it is justified and sensible to use the glans or foreskin inflammationpartner also treat.

Treatment of non-infectious balanitis / posthitis

In the case of non-infectious causes, for example an allergy, cortisone preparations can be helpful, which contain the inflammation. However, these should only be used for a short time.

If your balanitis or posthitis is due to aother disease(e.g. reactive arthritis or Behcet's disease), the focus is on treating this disease.

If people with foreskin constriction suffer from glans or foreskin infections more often, it can be useful to have ato remove existing constriction of the foreskin at an early stage by means of a surgical procedure. The doctor will perform such a so-called circumcision if the inflammation is not acute.

Balanitis & Posthitis: Course

The course of a balanitis (inflammation of the glans) and / or posthitis (inflammation of the foreskin) depends mainly on oneadequate treatment ab: Have both the foreskin inflammation and the glans inflammationgood chances of recovery with consistent therapy.

An inflammation of the foreskin or glans caused by pathogens usually heals without complications.


Some people shy away from discussing their symptoms with a doctor and may see them late. However, false shame is inappropriate: the longer you hesitate, the more likely complications can arise in the further course:

Many of these complications are rare. However, seeing a doctor is the best way to prevent them.

Balanitis & Posthitis: Prevention

Balanitis (inflammation of the glans) or posthitis (inflammation of the foreskin) can go some way prevent:

  • use Condoms, especially with frequently changing partners. Condoms provide reliable protection against pathogens that can be transmitted to the partner during sexual intercourse.
  • It is important to be consistent, but not excessiveGenital hygiene. When washing the glans, be sure to pull the foreskin back to remove smegma.

If you already have balanitis and / or posthitis:

  • With proper hygiene you can prevent possible complications.
  • Just as important: stick to the therapy prescribed by the doctor! If you stop taking antibiotics yourself, you risk that the inflammation will not heal.
  • Be sure to,not to infect anyone: Use a condom during sexual intercourse so that you do not transfer bacteria or fungi to your sexual partner.
  • If the glans / foreskin is inflamed from a disease such as diabetes mellitus or from mechanical irritation, thorough hygiene can accelerate healing - and prevent future inflammation.

Balanitis. Altmeyer, P .: The online encyclopedia of dermatology, venereology, allergology and environmental medicine (as of October 15, 2019)

Balanitis. Online information from the Pschyrembel: (as of October 2019)

Guidelines of the German Society for Pediatric Surgery: Phimosis and Paraphimosis. AWMF guidelines register No. 006/52 (as of September 2017)

Michel, M., et al .: The urology. Volume 2. Springer, Berlin 2016

Kerbl, R., et al .: Checklist pediatrics. Thieme, Stuttgart 2015

I care disease theory. Thieme, Stuttgart 2015

Schmelz, H. et al .: Specialist knowledge of urology: Differentiated diagnostics and therapy. Springer, Heidelberg 2014

Krause, W., et al. (Ed.): Andrology. Thieme, Stuttgart 2011

Sterry, W., Burgdorf, W., Paus, R .: Checklist Dermatology. Thieme, Stuttgart 2010

additional Information

ICD-10 Diagnostic Key:

Here you can find the appropriate ICD-10 code for "Balanitis (inflammation of the glans), Posthitis (inflammation of the foreskin)":

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Last content check:18.10.2019
Last change: 12.01.2021