Balanitis (inflammation of the glans or head of the penis) is a common condition, which can affect people of any age. It can be caused due to various conditions such as poor hygiene, infection with candida (thrush), bacterial infections, certain sexually transmitted infections, skin irritation due to soaps or chemicals in condom and certain skin conditions such as psoriasis. Most cases of balanitis respond well to treatment. The duration of balanitis in most cases may depend on the underlying cause.
Infection: Balanitis due to infection with fungus (candida) or bacteria may not resolve without treatment. Some of the affected individuals may develop complications such as phimosis, meatal stenosis if they are treated inappropriately. Treatment with antibiotics for bacterial infection or an antifungal (cream such as imidazole or an oral antifungal medication such as fluconazole) for fungal infections is usually enough to clear balanitis within a few days of treatment. Only rarely do some men with candida infection have repeated episodes of balanitis.
Poor hygiene or skin irritants: Balanitis as a result of poor hygiene or irritation due to chemical in condoms, lubricants or soaps responds to treatment with good hygiene practice and topical corticosteroid (steroid cream or ointment) in a few days. The medication should not be used for more than 14 days in a row as steroids (even when used locally) can cause side-effects such as itchy skin and skin rash.
Other conditions: Men with diabetes may have repeated episodes of balanitis. Balanitis, because of some skin conditions such as psoriasis may not respond well to treatment and may need prolonged or repeated treatment.
There is no permanent cure for balanitis or treatment to eradicate the organisms that cause it. The risk of repeated episodes of balanitis can be reduced by practicing good hygiene measures (such as cleaning excess urine from the end of the penis after urinating) and avoiding skin irritation (such as using a condom specifically made for sensitive skin, using biological washing powder to wash your underwear).
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