Balanoposthitis is defined as inflammation of the foreskin and the glans of the penis. It occurs in men of any age who are uncircumcised. Balanitis is when only the glans of the penis is inflamed. Posthitis is inflammation of the foreskin.

Balanoposthitis is a relatively common condition and affects approximately 1 in 20 men. Balanopsthitisis usually not a serious condition and is easy to treat. It is more common in sexually active men. It usually only occurs in boys who have an abnormally tight foreskin, known as phimosis.

Causes of balanoposthitis

There are various causes of balanoposthitis. Most cases occur as a result of poor hygiene or because of an inability to wash under the foreskin properly. Balanoposthitis may also develop as a response to a skin irritant. Some men are also more prone to develop the condition. The different causes of balanoposthitis are briefly discussed:

  • Infectious causes
  • Balanoposthitis may be caused by any type of infection. This may be acquired by having unprotected sex with a woman who has a genital infection. Men who are uncircumcised are more at risk of developing balanoposthitis.

    • Bacterial
    • The streptococcal bacteria are one of the common organisms causing balanoposthitis. Any of the sexually transmitted bacteria may cause balanoposthitis. These include syphilis, Gonorrhea and Chlymidia infections.


      Candida Albicans is the most common causeof balanitis

    • Fungal
    • Candida Albicans is the most common cause of yeast infections and is also the most common cause of balanitis. Candida Albicans may occur after having sexual intercourse with a female partner with a yeast infection but it does not necessarily have to be transmitted sexually. Using antibiotics increases a man’s chances of developing a candida balanoposthitis because the antibiotic also kills naturally occurring flora which inhibit overgrowth of fungus. It is more common in patients who have a compromised immune system like patients with poorly controlled diabetes, HIV and men on corticosteroid treatment.

    • Viral
    • Genital Herpes may cause balanoposthitis and is acquired from a sexual partner during intercourse if they carry the herpes virus.


    Inflammation of the glans and foreskin may occur when they are in contact with irritating substances, for example heavily scented soap

  • Contact dermatitis
  • Inflammation of the glans and foreskin may occur when they are in contact with irritating substances. These substances cause inflammation and therefor balanoposthitis by irritating the foreskin and glans. This can happen when soap is not properly rinsed off of the penis when bathing or when heavily scented soap is used to wash the area. Balanoposthitis may also occur when using scented deodorants or sprays on the area. Bar soaps may dry out the glans and foreskin which may also lead to balanoposthitis. The use of spermacide may also cause an inflammatory reaction in some men. Some men also develop inflammation from certain condoms.

  • Smegma
  • Smegma is the natural lubricant secreted by the penis to keep the penis moist. With poor hygiene, smegma may build up and irritate the skin of the glans. Smegma is a cheesy-looking build-up of substance found on the head of the penis, under the foreskin. When the skin of the glans is irritated, it may lead to balanitis or balanoposthitis.

  • Skin Conditions
  • Skin conditions like psoriasis may also cause balanoposthitis. Some types of skin cancers which are very rare are also a cause of balanoposthitis. Skin conditions occurring on other body parts may also affect the penis and result in inflammation of the foreskin and glans.

  • Phimosis
  • When the foreskin cannot be pulled back over the glans, it is known as phimosis. A male also has a phimosis if the foreskin can only be pulled back over the glans with great difficulty. If a male has phimosis, it is difficult for him to pull back the foreskin to clean the area under the foreskin. This then encourages growth of bacteria and other organisms which cause balanoposthitis.

  • Medication use
  • Various medications may cause balanoposthitis as a side effect of treatment. Examples of medicines which have been reported to cause this side effect are laxatives and sleeping pills. That is why it is important for the man to report all medications which are used even if they don’t seem relevant. The use of antibiotics and corticosteroids may also increase the chances of developing balanoposthitis.

  • Lowered Immunity
  • A man who has uncontrolled diabetes has a lowered immune system and is much more prone to developing infections. A man with HIV, especially if the CD4 count is very low, is also more prone to develop balanoposthitis. Other conditions which lower a man’s immunity may also increase his chances of developing any infection included balanoposthitis.