Reddened penis in men and boys? Know the most common causes

Reddened penis in men and boys? Know the most common causes
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Reddened penis is a relatively common problem affecting men and boys. Most of the time it is a minor condition, but the cause can be more serious.

Reddened penis, or more precisely, redness of the glans penis, can occur alone or together with redness of the foreskin. Other unpleasant problems can also be associated.

Inflammation of the glans penis = balanitis.
Inflammation of both glans and foreskin = balanoposthitis.

This relatively common problem affects adult and adolescent men, but also children, i.e. young boys.

In most cases, there is no need to worry about a more serious problem. In some cases, however, there may be a more serious cause behind this unpleasant symptom.

Do you think of sexually transmitted diseases and infidelity in the first place? It doesn't have to be like that. A very common cause of inflammation is also a microorganism that is normally found in the area of intimate places.

In addition, redness of the glans and foreskin of the penis can also be caused by contact dermatitis, i.e. local irritation, or allergies to various things in our surroundings.

Do you want to know more?
What can make men's penises red?
What other and unpleasant problems can accompany this condition?
Read with us...

Inflammation and redness of the penis for allergy or irritation?

Redness of the penis can occur even for common and uncomfortable conditions. An example is tight clothing that is also airless (clothing made of artificial tight fibers).

This leads to an unwanted overgrowth of microorganisms that are naturally found in these places under normal circumstances.

Allergies are also an example.

What can you be allergic to, you ask?

Have you changed your washing powder, your fabric softener or shower gel, your soap (other cleaning products...)? In that case, you may have found the cause.

And men can also be allergic to latex. This is found in condoms and sex aids, clothing. Nowadays, latex-free options are also available.

In this case, it may be enough to increase hygiene and topical treatment with products that can be purchased at the pharmacy.

If the redness is accompanied by other symptoms, it is best to seek professional help. A urologist or a dermatologist who also deals with sexually transmitted diseases can comment on this type of problem.

Inflammation of the glans penis and foreskin, a common problem

The penis is a sensitive part of the body for men. Some problems should not be overlooked. The same applies to inflammation, which is also a relatively common problem.

Expert literature states that it is a problem that affects approximately 1 in 20 men.

Balanitis is inflammation of the glans and postidida refers to inflammation of the foreskin.
They often run together, hence the name balanoposthitis.

Most of the time, it is inflammation that results from a disturbance in the balance of settlement of this sensitive site to various factors.

The section of the foreskin to glans transition is naturally colonized by microorganisms.

In addition, the temperature and humidity are naturally higher at this site.
However, this problem is relatively rare in men who have undergone circumcision.

The yeast Candida albicans plays a major role in this inflammation. Women are also familiar with it, as it also causes unpleasant inflammation in the fairer sex.

Both partners should be treated for this type of inflammation.

In men, the inflammation can also be asymptomatic, in which case there is a higher risk of transmission.

Similar to women, in men the overgrowth of yeast, but also other microorganisms, occurs for several reasons.

In addition to yeast, other microorganisms such as bacteria like streptococcus or staphylococcus, but also parasites like scabies (Sarcoptes scabiei) can overgrow.

Factors contributing to the development of inflammation in both men and women:

  • Inadequate or excessive hygiene
  • excess sugars in the diet
  • diabetes, elevated blood sugar and consequently urine sugar levels as a breeding ground for overgrowth
  • medications such as antibiotics, laxatives, analgesics (drugs to control pain and fever)
  • irritant background - irritation and allergies when using sex aids, cleaning and laundry products
  • foreskin overlying the glans penis
  • sexual intercourse, especially if the partner is already inflamed
  • frequent change of partners - the microflora of the sexual partners must also "get used to each other"
  • weakened immunity

The disease can take several forms, from simple inflammation (balanoposthitis simplex) to more severe inflammation (an example is balanoposthitis erosiva et gangraenosa in infection with gangrene).

In addition to penile redness, other symptoms may be associated:

  • red spots, maps to confluence into larger areas
  • light to wet patches
  • itching, burning, pinching of the penis
  • pain in the limb, sensitivity to touch
  • pain on urination, burning, itching
  • redness of the urethral orifice
  • disturbance of urination or cessation of urination - urinary retention
  • swelling of the foreskin and glans
  • inflammation of the foreskin sac
  • formation of secretion, formation of thick to foul-smelling discharge under the foreskin
  • scales, dry cracked skin of the glans and foreskin
  • yellow blisters
  • shiny and stretched acorn skin
  • phimosis, paraphimosis inability to retract the foreskin over the glans, or retraction of the foreskin and subsequent stuck foreskin
  • ulceration of the glans
  • swollen local lymph nodes

Penile strangulation with a swollen foreskin is an acute condition that should be addressed immediately.

Treatment depends on the underlying cause and associated complaints. It usually lasts for a short time (a week or more). Commonly available topical antiseptics (hypermanganese, in the form of ointments, creams, solutions), antibiotics, antifungals or corticosteroids can help.

Beware, however...

In case of chronic persistence of inflammation, there is an increased risk of late complications, even the development of penile cancer. Therefore, removal of the foreskin, i.e. circumcision, is recommended in this case.

Redness of the penis can be a symptom of other and more unmentioned diseases. An example is lichen sclerosus or psoriasis.

Therefore, in this case we recommend a professional examination.

Sexually transmitted diseases

When we say sexually transmitted diseases, we think of gonorrhoea or syphilis. Gonorrhoea is typically manifested by a whitish discharge from the urethra. However, redness of the penis may not be present at all.

But in 10% of men it occurs without symptoms.

Typical symptoms of gonorrhea in men:

  • yellow-white discharge from the urethra
  • foul-smelling discharge
  • redness and swelling of the urethral orifice
  • burning and cutting sensation when urinating
  • frequent urge to urinate
  • inability to hold urine
  • pain, tension in the testicles

Syphilis is mainly associated with a hard ulcer.

However, there are more sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as the parasitic disease Trichomoniasis urogenitalis (trichomoniasis), HPV infection (which can cause warts and other problems) and chlamydia.

The basis of prevention is protection from transmission and infection:

  • Sexual discipline and abstinence, fidelity in relationships, and a life without infidelity
    • monogamous sexuality
    • minimise partner turnover
  • knowing the health status of yourself and your sexual partner
  • use of protective equipment
  • regular medical check-ups
  • vaccinations
  • good, adequate and not excessive hygiene habits
  • no to drugs and syringes

Read more about the issue in our articles:

In young boys, penile redness can occur for...

In young boys, the foreskin is not in the same condition as it is in adult men. It adheres to the glans, sometimes so much that it cannot be retracted. Or the foreskin is too narrow.

Balanoposthitis in boys is divided into:

  1. with a foreskin that can be pulled loosely over the penis
  2. or with a foreskin that cannot be pulled down over the glans

Thus, in childhood, it is also evaluated whether the cause is the adherence of the foreskin (conglutination) or phimosis.

Conglutination is literally the gluing of the inner leaf of the foreskin to the surface of the glans. Although the foreskin cannot be retracted, the cause is not constriction.

In the past, tightening of the foreskin was recommended. However, this was often associated with repeated minor injuries. These injuries healed with scar tissue, leading to complications.

The foreskin separates from the glans separately and gradually, more often by school age, sometimes until puberty.

Only about 4% of newborns have a fully retractable foreskin.
Gradually, the rate decreases until the age of...
In boys from 6 to 17 years, it is about 1%.

In some cases, secretions that are not infectious, that is, infected with bacteria, may accumulate in the sac formed by the foreskin. A whitish to pale yellow filling may then be found in the foreskin sacs.

But... this sac can become secondarily infected with bacteria, even with careless handling, leading to inflammation.

The second risk factor is phimosis.

Phimosis is a condition where the foreskin is so narrowed that it cannot be pulled over the glans. This condition impairs access to hygiene, which can lead to inflammation.

Phimosis can be congenital but also acquired. It can be combined together with conglutination.

The acquired form occurs precisely in the case of repeated inflammation and small minor injuries, when parents try too hard to tighten the foreskin.

Thus, with phimosis and inflammation, there are health problems that boys describe as problems with urination, burning and pain when urinating, pain in the limb, burning, pinching, cutting.

In addition, redness in the urethral area and swelling of the foreskin also occur. Possibly, purulent discharge occurs.

The risk is cessation of urination and progression of the inflammation to the abdomen. And then fever may be associated.

As in adulthood, yeast, bacteria or parasites can be the main cause of the inflammation.

You may have heard of paraphimosis...

Paraphimosis is an acute condition that needs to be treated immediately by a professional.

The foreskin is pulled over the glans penis and cannot be put back. The glans is pinched, which impairs blood flow and vascular supply.

Penile swelling increases, pain sets in, redness sets in. The risk is ischemia, i.e., penile engorgement.

The solution is professional reproofing of the foreskin (dressing it over the glans) or incision (surgical cut).

Prevention of problems

Inflammation of the penis and foreskin can be fought. However, there are a few principles to keep in mind.

Examples are measures such as:

  • sufficient but not excessive hygiene
  • do not use soaps and douches for penile hygiene, which can cause irritation - wash the penis with water
  • choosing appropriate detergents
  • airy clothing and underwear made of natural fabrics
  • abstinent sex life
  • washing the penis and urinating after intercourse
  • avoiding irritants in lubricants, condoms and sex aids
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