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Balanitis and balanoposthitis in adults

Glen W Barrisford, MD, MS
Section Editor
Michael P O'Leary, MD, MPH
Deputy Editor
Wenliang Chen, MD, PhD


Balanitis is defined as inflammation of the glans penis or clitoris [1]. The word is derived from the Greek "balanos" or "acorn." The diagnosis is most commonly applied to male patients.

When the prepuce (foreskin) becomes involved, the condition is then known as balanoposthitis. In common usage, "balanitis" and "balanoposthitis" are used interchangeably, although balanoposthitis occurs only in uncircumcised males. For the remainder of this discussion, we will refer to both conditions with the common term "balanitis."

The diagnosis and treatment of balanitis and balanoposthitis in adult males will be reviewed here. The disorder in children is discussed separately. (See "Balanoposthitis in children: Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment" and "Balanoposthitis in children: Epidemiology and pathogenesis".)


Balanitis can occur at any age, but the prevalence of specific etiologies is age dependent. In the United States, balanitis accounts for approximately 11 percent of men seen in urology clinics. Approximately 3 percent of uncircumcised men are affected globally [2].

Balanitis appears to be more common in United States men of African American and Hispanic descent, although this may relate to differences in circumcision rates among American men [2].


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: May 16, 2016.
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