Penis Skin Irritation: 5 Common Causes (& What to Do)

Penis skin irritation is most commonly caused by an allergic reaction from contact with soaps or fabrics. It can also happen due to lack of genital hygiene throughout the day. 

Irritation of the penis skin that is accompanied by other symptoms, like pain, burning, swelling or discharge may indicate a more serious issue, like an infection. 

Ideally, if your penis skin irritation lasts for longer than 2 days, or if you experience other symptoms, you should see your doctor for a thorough assessment to identify the cause and start appropriate treatment. 

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The most common causes of penis skin irritation are: 

1. Allergy

An allergy is one of the main causes of penis skin irritation. It can occur due to sensitivity to a soap, fabric or condom and may also cause symptoms like itching and burning. 

What to do: It is important to identify what triggered the reaction and avoid contact with that substance. If you are unable to identify the cause, your doctor may opt to prescribe corticosteroid or anti-histamines. 

2. Poor hygiene 

Lack of genital hygiene can lead to the build-up of dirt and debris on the head of the penis. This can cause microorganisms to grow and spread, leading to local inflammation, redness and itching. 

What to do: It is important to pay attention to your hygiene habits. You should cleanse your penis at least once per day, being sure to retract the foreskin to expose the gland and wash appropriately. 

3. Balanitis

Balanitis is characterized by an inflammation of the foreskin, the tissue that covers the head of the penis. It happens mainly due to fungal infection, which can start to grow in the area. This condition may cause symptoms like redness, itching, and swelling in the area. Learn more about what causes balanitis and how it presents. 

What to do: It is important to see your doctor to evaluate your signs and symptoms. Once confirmed, the doctor may prescribe treatment with topical antifungals and/or corticosteroids to treat symptoms. You should also improve or maintain your hygiene habits. 

4. Balanoposthitis

Different from balanitis, balanoposthitis is characterized by inflammation of both the foreskin and the head of the penis. It causes redness, swelling, pain, burning, and itching, which can be very uncomfortable. 

What to do: In this case, the doctor can indicate the use of medication in accordance with the cause of inflammation. Treatment may involve the use of topical ointments or creams containing antibiotics, antifungals or steroids. They should be used as prescribed to relieve your symptoms and cure the balanoposthitis. 

5. Yeast infection

A yeast infection is caused by Candida sp. fungus which can grow on the genitals and cause symptoms like redness, itching, white discharge, burning with urination and pain during sex. Read about what can cause a yeast infection in men and how it presents. 

What to do: You should see a doctor for assessment and diagnosis so that treatment can be initiated. Treatment usually involves the use of topical antifungals like miconazole or fluconazole, which help to relieve symptoms and treat the infection. 

In addition, it is important to maintain adequate genital hygiene and avoid using clothes that are too hot, tight or wet, as these can all lead to fungal growth. Check out other yeast infection treatments you can try.