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Have you noticed that your foreskin has become swollen, irritated, itchy, or has developed skin cracks, dry skin, or peeling? We'll be looking at possible causes here. 

An inflamed, swollen, painful penis is called balanitis. In uncircumcised men, balanitis is frequently accompanied by posthitis, an inflammation of the foreskin. When both these conditions occur together, it's called balanoposthitis

Symptoms may include:

  • Itching
  • A skin rash or red, sore looking skin
  • Cracked skin
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Discharge or oozing from beneath the foreskin
  • Being unable to retract the foreskin

Causes Of An Inflamed Foreskin

Causes of posthitis are many and varied.

They include infectious diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, genital herpes, trichomoniasis, scabies, and candidiasis (a yeast infection), which can usually be treated or at least managed, in the case of herpes, quite easily if you see a doctor in a timely manner. 

Chronic conditions and conditions that are harder to manage can also be to blame for an inflamed foreskin. 

  • Balanitis xerotica obliterans (or penile lichen sclerosus) is a chronic, often progressive, skin disease characterized by itching, pain, cracked and peeled skin, and white patches of skin. While there is no cure for this condition, management options include topical steroidal creams, the use of skin creams, and circumcision. 

  • Contact dermatitis is caused by allergies or irritants, in this case frequently latex allergies (due to condom use) or the use of harsh soaps or perfumes in the genital area. While corticosteroids can clear it up, future prevention depends on avoiding exposure to the relevant triggers. 

  • Lichen planus is an itchy skin condition characterized by raised or flat skin patches. It can, again, be treated with the help of corticosteroids but often clears up on its own as well. 

  • Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that leads to patches of thickened, abnormal skin. and it can affect the penile area as well. Management strategies include topical treatments and light therapy. 

  • Penile cancer can also be to blame. 

Foreskin inflammations are more common in men with diabetes and those suffering from phimosis, or tight and sometimes completely unretractable foreskins. 

Inflamed Foreskin: Diagnosis And Treatment

We would advise you to see a doctor as soon as possible — as always, your ability to access the correct treatment depends on a correct diagnosis, and since more serious issues can be at play here, it is important not to wait for your foreskin inflammation to clear up on its own. 

At the doctor's, you will face a thorough physical examination, and you can expect questions about your lifestyle, medical history, and personal hygiene. After that, you will most likely be tested for sexually transmitted diseases and candidiasis. A skin biopsy may be performed, and you should also not be surprised if your doctor wants to test you for diabetes. 

Treatment or management depends on the cause of your posthitis or balanoposthitis. In addition, your foreskin may be irrigated and you will receive a refresher course on personal hygiene (whether you need one or not). Where necessary, circumcision will be recommended. This is especially the case if you are already dealing with phimosis. 

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