Balanitis can be caused due to poor hygiene, infection with candida (thrush), bacterial infections, certain sexually transmitted infections, skin irritation and certain skin conditions such as psoriasis. Therefore, treatment depends on what is causing your condition. Most cases respond well to treatment.
Treatment for some of the most common causes of balanitis is given below.
Skin irritation is the most common cause of balanitis in boys. Skin can become irritated due to poor hygiene or exposure to certain substances. Balanitis caused due to skin irritation is treated with topical corticosteroid (steroid cream or ointment). You will be advised to apply the cream to the head of your penis once or twice a day until the symptoms resolve. 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 a skin rash.
Some potential irritants that can cause balanitis include soap and shower gel, bubble baths, baby wipes, latex condoms, lubricants, antiseptics and hygiene sprays. If you have symptoms suggestive of balanitis, it is important to avoid using soaps and other potential irritants. Furthermore, ensure that the head of your penis and your foreskin do not become soiled with urine after you urinate.
If fungal infection is suspected as a possible cause of balanitis, you will be prescribed either an antifungal cream such as imidazole or an oral antifungal medication (tablet or capsule) such as fluconazole.
Fluconazole is not prescribed for children younger than 16 years. Some of the common side-effects of fluconazole include headache, skin rash, nausea (feeling sick), vomiting (being sick), abdominal pain and diarrhoea. People with severe or troublesome symptoms may be prescribed a seven-day course of a topical corticosteroid (as cream or ointment).
If bacterial infection is suspected as the cause of balanitis, you will be prescribed a seven-day course of oral antibiotics (antibiotic tablets or capsules). Most people with balanitis are given an antibiotic called amoxicillin. People allergic to penicillin will be prescribed erythromycin or clarithromycin. Some common side-effects of antibiotics are skin rash, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. People with severe or troublesome symptoms may be prescribed a seven-day course of a topical corticosteroid (as cream or ointment).
Apart from the above mentioned treatment, an important step for management of balanitis includes keeping the head of the penis and foreskin clean and dry. This is useful for the prevention of infection as well. Cleaning the area daily while bathing is necessary to prevent infection. Most types of balanitis respond to treatment in seven days. If your symptoms do not improve after a week of treatment, consult your doctor as you may require an alternative treatment.
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