Treating balanitis 

If you or your child has balanitis, the recommended treatment will depend on what is causing the condition.

Self-care

In all cases, you should keep your penis clean by washing it with warm water once a day.

You should also try to avoid potential irritants, such as soap, bubble bath and baby wipes. You may find it helpful to use an emollient as a soap substitute.

Read about preventing balanitis for more information on hygiene and avoiding irritants.

Topical corticosteroids

If your balanitis is the result of skin irritation and not an infection, you will usually be prescribed a topical corticosteroid (steroid cream or ointment).

Apply the cream to the head of your penis once a day until your symptoms have gone. Do not use the medication for more than 14 days in a row because this could lead to side effects, such as thinning of the skin.

Antifungal medication

If your balanitis is the result of a fungal infection, you will be prescribed either an antifungal cream to use several times a day for at least two weeks, or a single dose of the oral antifungal medication (tablet or capsule) fluconazole.

Side effects of antifungal creams can include a rash, itching and swelling. These creams can also damage latex condoms, so you should use an alternative form of contraception for at least five days after treatment stops.

Fluconazole is not recommended for children who are under 16 years old. It can also cause side effects, including nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhoea, and abdominal (tummy) pain.

If your symptoms are particularly troublesome, you may be prescribed a topical corticosteroid to use as well.

Antibiotics

If a bacterial infection is the cause of your balanitis, you will be prescribed a seven-day course of an oral antibiotic (antibiotic tablets or capsules), such as flucloxacillin or metronidazole.

Common side effects of these types of antibiotics include a rash, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Again, if your symptoms are particularly troublesome, you may also be prescribed a topical corticosteroid.

Further treatment

The treatments listed above should start working within seven days. Contact your GP if your symptoms do not start improving by this time because you may require alternative treatment and you may need to see a specialist.

In rare cases, if you have phimosis (a tight foreskin) and you have repeat episodes of balanitis, you may be advised to have a partial circumcision (where some of the foreskin is removed).


Can I have sex during treatment?

If balanitis is not caused by an infection, it's usually fine to have sex before your treatment finishes.

However, you may want to avoid having sex until your symptoms improve because you may find it painful.

You should avoid having sex during treatment if your balanitis is caused by an STI or thrush, because there is a risk of passing the infection on.

Your GP or specialist can advise you about this.

Page last reviewed: 27/11/2014

Next review due: 27/11/2016