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is balanitis an std

By: RSC Editorial Team

December 3, 2022

Is Balanitis an STD? What You Need To Know

Balanitis is an uncomfortable yet common inflammatory condition affecting the area where the head of the penis attaches to the foreskin. Symptoms of balanitis frequently include painful urination, sores, foul odors, itching, redness, bleeding, and swelling, all commonly associated with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or infections (STIs). 

So, is balanitis an STD? No, though frequent flare-ups may indicate an underlying condition that requires attention. Balanitis can be a symptom of various STIs, fungal infections, or bacterial infections. Uncircumcised boys and men have an increased risk of balanitis, as smegma and skin oils can build up under the foreskin, allowing for excess bacterial or fungal growth. 

At Rapid STD Testing, we provide same-day STD testing with discreet results and comprehensive educational resources, like information on what STD discharge looks like. Below, we discuss what you need to know about developing balanitis. 

What Is Balanitis?

Balanitis is a symptom of various diseases, infections, medication reactions, and other complications. The area of skin connecting the foreskin to the penis head is extremely sensitive and can become irritated from a lack of sanitation, an allergic reaction, a yeast infection, contact with an STD, and more, resulting in an uncomfortable and painful rash on the genitals

Balanitis predominantly affects uncircumcised boys and men, specifically children under four or adult men with intact foreskins. Approximately one in 25 young boys and one in 30 adult uncircumcised men get balanitis at least once. Young children who do not properly wash their foreskin can easily develop bacterial or fungal growth, while adult men may use irritating products or contract STDs that cause the rash. 


What is the balanitis rash? The most common symptoms of balanitis include the following:

  • Penile discharge
  • Pain surrounding the penis head
  • Lumpy, yellow, or white buildup under the foreskin (smegma)
  • Difficulty or pain pulling back the foreskin
  • Shiny skin or sores on the glands
  • Pain with erections
  • Odd or foul smells
  • Pain or burning sensations while urinating
  • Bleeding near the foreskin
  • Impotence (erectile dysfunction)
  • General itchiness

More severe symptoms include fevers or the inability to urinate. If you have a fever, it may indicate a severe infection that requires immediate attention. The inability to urinate is a life-threatening condition that can damage your bladder, so you must seek emergency medical treatment. 


Balanitis diagnosis typically involves examining the root cause of the rash. The only way your doctor can help you heal is by understanding what’s causing the infection. It could be a bacterial overgrowth due to improper hygiene, an underlying disease that requires specific medications, or something else. 

To uncover the rash’s source, healthcare professionals typically go through a few tests and exams to rule out potential problems. The most common lab tests include the following:

  • Culture tests to check the discharge for bacterial or fungal infections
  • Urinalysis to detect various urinary disorders, like diabetes, kidney disease, and urinary tract infections
  • Syphilis tests via blood samples to identify potential stage developments
  • Yeast infection swabs to determine whether or not anti-fungal creams may help
  • Blood sugar panels for overall health insights or a potential diabetes diagnosis
  • HIV tests to check for human immunodeficiency virus
  • Bladder scans to rule out potential urinary tract blockages causing pain or trouble urinating

Your healthcare professional will consider your age, medical history, and symptoms when determining the appropriate exams to administer. 

Is Balanitis a Sign of an STD?

Is balanitis an STD? No, but is balanitis a sign of an STD? Yes, which is why understanding the common STD symptoms, receiving regular testing, and practicing safe sex are critical in protecting your health. 

Some STDs that can cause balanitis symptoms include the following:

  • Chlamydia: May cause fever or pain in the testicular tubes and increase the risk of contracting HIV
  • Gonorrhea: May cause testicular pain or infertility, though it is frequently asymptomatic in men
  • Genital herpes: May cause clustered sores and blisters around the penis and anus
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): Typically asymptomatic in men, though it may cause genital sores
  • Syphilis: Stage 1 typically causes sores around the genitals (if left untreated, the later stages cause far more severe complications)
  • HIV: Typically causes flu-like symptoms with rashes

Differentiating a rash from a common yeast infection versus something more dangerous, like syphilis, is challenging. If you notice any of the above symptoms, you can order a rapid STD test online from Rapid STD Testing to better understand what’s causing your discomfort. You may also visit a local clinic for further medical support. 

What Causes Balanitis?

Many different things can cause balanitis. The infection typically occurs when bacteria or fungi grow beneath the foreskin’s dark and moist environment, creating the perfect breeding ground for infection. The following items can all contribute to balanitis. 

Poor Hygiene and Non-sexually Transmitted Infections

Poor genital hygiene, particularly in uncircumcised men, can cause a buildup of smegma. When the discharge-like substance rubs against the tight skin area, many people experience irritation that can develop into balanitis. Beyond this irritation, poor hygiene may also result in infections. 

The most common non-sexually transmitted infection causing balanitis is candida, a fungus that causes yeast infections. Young children, adults who cannot clean themselves, and obese adults are all at the highest risk of balanitis from poor hygiene. Maintaining an appropriate cleansing routine with warm water can reduce infection risks. 

Irritating Products and Medication Reactions

Balanitis can occur from allergic reactions or irritations to chemicals in different products. For example, if you use a scented soap around the area and have sensitive skin, you may get a rash. You should avoid irritating ingredients and stick to simple, unscented products. 

The most common irritants causing balanitis include the following:

  • Overwashing the area: While you want to maintain proper hygiene, overwashing and constant scrubbing can cause excess irritation. 
  • Irritating clothing: Any products you use on your clothing and underwear may irritate your skin. For example, certain laundry detergents may contain ingredients that flare up your rash. 
  • Latex condoms: Different latex condoms and lubricants may contain irritants that worsen your condition. 
  • Chemicals on hands: If you handle a chemical or harsh substance before touching or washing your genitals, you may transfer the irritation, creating a rash. 

People may also experience balanitis as a side effect of various medications. If you think your prescription medication is causing your rash, consult your doctor about other options or potential treatments. 

Other Underlying Conditions

Many underlying health conditions can cause balanitis symptoms. Such conditions may signify severe health problems that require immediate attention. Your doctor can examine for such causes while diagnosing your condition. 

Underlying conditions causing balanitis include the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Lichen sclerosis
  • Zoon balanitis 
  • Reiter’s disease
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Psoriasis

Sexually Transmitted Infections

When discussing the common causes of balanitis, sexually transmitted diseases typically make the list. While a balanitis STI may not exist, various sexually transmitted infections can result in the balanitis symptoms. Review our list of common STDs causing balanitis and their associated symptoms in the above section to learn more. 

If you think you may have an STD that’s causing your balanitis, take a 10-panel STD test with rapid, discreet results from Rapid STD Testing today. 

Treatment and Prevention

Now that you know the answer to “Is balanitis an STD?” let’s discuss how to prevent and treat it. 

Balanitis treatment depends on the root cause of the rash. Many successful options exist, offering relief for uncomfortable symptoms. The best way to avoid such symptoms is to prevent balanitis altogether. 

Preventing Balanitis

You may be able to prevent balanitis by following proper hygiene and safe sex recommendations. If you have balanitis from an underlying condition, like diabetes, such preventative measures may not apply to you. 

For optimal health and risk reduction, you should adhere to the following recommendations:

  • Wash properly: Cleanse the penis glands (end of the penis) daily by carefully pulling back the foreskin. Use warm water and unscented, bland soap when cleaning, and be sure not to scrub too harshly. Let the skin fully dry before getting dressed. 
  • Use the right type of condoms: If latex condoms irritate your skin, switch to a type suitable for sensitive skin. Many sensitive skin options exist for reduced irritation. 
  • Wash hands regularly: Always sanitize your hands before using the bathroom, washing, or touching your genitals. Exercise extra caution after handling any chemicals. 
  • Follow safe sex guidelines: Always use condoms and additional protective methods when having sex, even with consistent partners. Remember to use condoms for oral and hand-manipulation sex, as such activities can still spread germs. 

Balanitis Treatment Options

Balanitis treatment depends on the cause of your rash. The most common treatment options include the following:

  • Anti-fungal creams: Your doctor may prescribe an anti-fungal if you have a yeast infection from the candida fungus. 
  • Antibiotics: You may need antibiotics for bacterial infections or different STIs. Some sexually transmitted infections require specific treatment regimens that your doctor can guide you through. 
  • Steroid creams: Steroid creams can help reduce inflammation for balanitis related to allergic reactions or irritations. 

For recurrent balanitis, doctors can remove the foreskin. This treatment may only be suitable for certain ages and scenarios. Circumcision can reduce the risks of future infections. 

Does Balanitis Go Away on Its Own?

Balanitis can go away on its own, though it depends on what’s causing the rash. For example, if improper hygiene or an allergic reaction causes irritation, it will likely resolve itself once you return to a normal routine. 

Complex causes, like STDs and underlying conditions, require treatment. Balanitis from an STD typically won’t resolve itself, though it may become latent for certain periods. 

Prioritize Your Health Today

Is balanitis an STD? No, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get tested if you notice symptoms. Regular STD testing reduces the spread, protects your health, and can save lives. 

Order tests online today from Rapid STD Testing, visit a local clinic or call our team today at (866) 872-1888 for more information. 


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By: RSC Editorial Team
December 3, 2022

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