What is Balanitis?
Balanitis is a condition occurring at the top of the penis causing the foreskin to swell. It affects around one in every twenty men at some point and although it is often painful, it is rarely serious. The condition is far more common in men who have not been circumcised and is usually eased with the use of topical medications.
As well as conventional medications, there are many natural remedies that can ease the symptoms as we will see later in the article.
Causes of Balanitis
Balanitis is usually caused by a chronic skin condition or some type of bacterial or fungal infection. The most common cause is infection by Candida albicans.
- Candida albicans – the fungus that causes thrush and vaginal yeast in women.
- Bacterial infection.
- Sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia.
- A skin disease such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis or lichen planus.
- A tight foreskin.
The irritation and inflammation characteristic of the disease can be made worse by poor hygiene. Inadequate cleaning of the penis can contribute to the condition but so can over cleansing.
The foreskin is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and yeast to develop and thrive because it traps the moisture surrounding the glans of the penis.
Other potential causes are injuries to the foreskin or top of the penis or irritation to the area. Some of the main causes of irritation include:
- Using scented soaps and lotions on the penis.
- Using soaps which dry the skin too much.
- Failing to rinse the soap from the penis completely.
Other causes include reactive arthritis and diabetes. Balanitis can also be caused as a side effect of certain medications like laxatives, antibiotics and painkillers and sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and syphilis.
There are several symptoms that may indicate you have balanitis including the following.
- Redness and inflammation of the foreskin is the most common symptom of balanitis.
- A tightened foreskin.
- Itching in the genitals.
- A penile discharge.
- Pain in the penis skin.
- Painful urination owing to pressure exerted on the urethra when the tip of the penis is swollen.
You should immediately stop using perfumed soaps, powders, and lotions and only use warm water to clean your penis. Other than that, there are several topical medications that may be prescribed. If the condition is caused by an infection, you may be prescribed an antibiotic, anti-fungal or steroid cream.
Unfortunately, these pharmaceutical products come with a risk of certain side effects but try not to worry. There are plenty of effective and natural remedies that you can try at home to ease your symptoms without any risk of harmful effects.
Home Remedies for Balanitis
Garlic is a great home remedy for a wide variety of conditions and is one of the very best treatments you can carry out yourself for balanitis. Garlic works so well for a such a range of complaints mainly because of the presence of allicin which has excellent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties are excellent against the bacteria that can cause balanitis.
Simply adding more delicious garlic to your diet can help treat your condition significantly. Alternatively, you can make a garlic paste by crushing a few cloves and adding a little water until the paste is smooth. Apply the paste to the tip of your penis and any areas of your genitals that are inflamed and itching.
You can repeat the procedure several times a day until the condition has healed.
2) Tea Tree Essential Oil
Many essential oils have the natural properties capable of easing the symptoms of balanitis and treating the cause whether it is bacterial or fungal. Tea tree essential oil is especially effective when it comes to treating balanitis as it contains extremely strong antimicrobial compounds as well as being an excellent anti-inflammatory that can soother inflammation and irritation.
Dilute a few drops of tea tree essential oil in a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil and apply the mixture to the affected area several times each day.
3) Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is a spicy treat with numerous excellent health properties. These peppers contain a compound called capsaicin which can help relieve pain and reduce the irritation caused by balanitis. It is also a rich source of vitamins and antioxidants with excellent anti-inflammatory effects.
Simply adding some of these spicy peppers to your cooking can do wonders for your health in general but you can also find creams containing capsaicin that can be applied topically.
Calendula or marigold has excellent anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve the pain and the inflammation caused by balanitis. You can use dried or fresh calendula to make a healthy anti-inflammatory tea but you can also buy creams and ointments with calendula as an ingredient.
Applying this cream to your foreskin and other irritated areas of your genitals can help to soothe the pain and inflammation associated with the condition.
5) Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is full of the right sort of medicinal properties and effects that are perfect to treat inflamed and irritated skin. Aloe vera has a range of uses for the skin including easing the pain and swelling caused by balanitis.
- Take a fresh Aloe leaf and cut it lengthways.
- Extract the gel from the leaf and apply it to the affected area of your penis.
- Repeat the process twice each day and you should feel your symptoms easing.
- If you can not get hold of fresh aloe leaves, then ready-made gels are readily available and can be equally as effective.
Ginger is full of medicinal properties and is one of the best things you can consume to relieve the condition. It has outstanding antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions that can help treat any infection that may be causing your condition and also help ease the symptoms.
Add plenty of ginger to your cooking or add some ginger powder to your smoothies and shakes. You can also make a healthy, anti-inflammatory ginger root tea. Simply steep a few slices of fresh root in boiling water for ten minutes or so and drink it up several times a day. Combine with turmeric for even greater effect. Read more about the benefits of ginger and turmeric tea here.
7) Coconut Oil
Virgin coconut oil makes for another excellent topical remedy to treat the irritation and swelling caused by balanitis. Virgin coconut oil contains several medicinal compounds including lauric acid and caprylic acid which have excellent antimicrobial effects and anti-inflammatory actions.
Coconut oil can both help treat the bacterial or fungal infection which caused the condition and also sooth the irritation and other symptoms.
Simply apply some good quality virgin coconut oil to the affected area of your penis two or three times each day.
8) Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has a reputation as a cure-all so it is no surprise to find it on yet another list of home remedies. It has excellent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties perfect for treating skin conditions such as balanitis.
Do not apply the vinegar neat to your skin as it may cause irritation. Dilute it first with equal amounts of water and then apply it carefully to the affected area.
9) Natural Yogurt
Yogurt is another excellent remedy for balanitis. Of course, you can eat some good quality yogurt to improve your health but you can also apply it topically to treat your condition and ease the symptoms.
Simply apply the yogurt to the affected areas of your penis a few times a day or mix it with garlic for even greater medicinal effect.
We hope that one or more of these remedies can help treat your symptoms. If you are concerned that your condition is not improving, make sure that you see your doctor for professional advice.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is Balanitis a Sexually Transmitted Disease?
The answer to this question is not that straightforward. Balanitis itself is not considered contagious but the organisms which cause balanitis can be transferred. Where the disease is caused by an STD like gonorrhea or herpes, then it can be transferred between sexual partners. However, there are a number of other causes of balanitis.
2. What are the Main Causes?
There are a number of potential causes. The main cause of balanitis is an infection of Candida albicans – the fungus that causes thrush and vaginal yeast. Other common causes include poor hygiene, allergies to certain chemicals and skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and lichen planus.
3. What is the Prognosis?
If you have been diagnosed with balanitis, try not to worry. The disease is usually mild and clears up quite quickly after treatment. Recurrent balanitis is possible but most people will not experience a recurrence if they follow a good hygiene regime.
4. How is Balanitis Normally Treated?
The treatment for balanitis depends on the cause of the disease. Balanitis caused by Candida can be treated with anti-fungal creams. Antibiotics can help if the disease is caused by a bacterial infection. Steroid creams may be prescribed if the disease was caused by psoriasis while doctors can test for allergies if it is caused by allergic reaction. In the case of recurrent balanitis caused by a tight foreskin, then circumcision may be necessary.
5. What are the Best Preventive Measures?
In order to minimize your risk of infection, you should follow a good hygiene routine and make sure that you clean the penis well. Apart from good hygiene, it is important to avoid any known allergens which may be responsible for the condition.
Hygiene Tips to Avoid Balanitis
• Pull back your foreskin to expose the glans.
• Wash the area thoroughly with warm water only. Soap is best avoided as it could irritate the condition.
• Instead of soap, you could use some type of aqueous cleansing cream but make sure that you rinse it away completely.
• Make sure your glans are completely dry before replacing your foreskin,
• Men who develop the condition following sex should wash their penis thoroughly after intercourse.
Please let us know if you have ever used any of these home remedies for balanitis and how effective or otherwise that you found them. If you have any other natural remedies that have proven effective for you. please let us know and we can add them to our list.
Tea Tree Oil is a powerful anti-fungal and Aloe is probably the best soothing/relief option
Some other options including OTC anti-fungal: