Balanitis is a condition that affects the foreskin and head of the penis. It primarily affects boys who haven't been circumcised.


  1. Redness and Swelling: The head of the penis will be red, swollen, sore, itchy or feel really hot.
  2. Itching or Irritation: There may be discomfort, itching, or a burning sensation.
  3. Discharge: In some cases, there may also be a thick discharge underneath the foreskin.
  4. Painful urination: It may be painful to urinate (wee).
  5. Bad smell: A bad smell might be present due to the accumulation of smegma and infection.


  1. Poor Hygiene: Not cleaning the penis regularly can lead to a build-up of smegma. Smegma is normal but if too much is left there it can irritate the foreskin.
  2. Infections: infection can sometimes makes it worse.
  3. Irritants: Exposure to harsh soaps, lotions, or other chemicals can lead to irritation.
  4. Phimosis: This is a condition where the foreskin is too tight, making it difficult to retract and clean underneath. This can contribute to the development of balanitis.

Prevention and Management

  1. Hygiene: You or your child should clean their genital area regularly. It is good to pull the foreskin as much as is comfortable when washing. Most boy’s foreskins do not fully pull back (retract) until they are 5 and for some it is up to 10.
  2. Gentle soaps: Use mild, fragrance-free soaps when cleaning the genital area.
  3. Avoid irritants: Steer clear of harsh chemicals, scented products, and bubble baths.
  4. Loose clothing: Ensure that your child wears loose-fitting underwear to promote ventilation.

When to Seek Medical Help

If your child has pain when they wee,  if there is any discharge, or if your child’s symptoms continue or worsen even though you have tried all the tips above, arrange review with your GP practice. They may decide to prescribe  antifungal or antibacterial creams.

Hide this section
Show accessibility tools