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Balanitis in adults

Author
Glen W Barrisford, MD, MS
Section Editor
Michael P O'Leary, MD, MPH
Deputy Editor
Howard Libman, MD

INTRODUCTION

Balanitis is defined as inflammation of the glans penis [1]. The word is derived from the Greek "balanos," which means "acorn."

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

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

EPIDEMIOLOGY

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 men of African American and Hispanic descent, although this observation may be related to differences in circumcision rates [2].

ETIOLOGY

Balanitis has a wide range of causes, but most cases are related to inadequate hygiene in uncircumcised men. When the foreskin is not routinely retracted and the glans is not cleansed in an appropriate fashion, buildup of sweat, debris, exfoliated skin, and bacteria or fungi can occur, resulting in inflammation. Predisposing factors include diabetes mellitus, trauma (eg, zipper injury), obesity, and edematous conditions (eg, congestive heart failure, cirrhosis, nephrotic syndrome).

                   

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Literature review current through: Jun 2017. | This topic last updated: May 22, 2017.
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