What Causes Balanitis In Children And How To Treat It?

check_icon Research-backed

Balanitis refers to inflammation of the head or glans of the penis. Balanitis in children is mostly self-resolving within two to three days. The condition may occur at any age but is frequently seen in boys below the age of five years as they won’t retract or clean under the foreskin of a penis.

Conservative interventions may be helpful for managing balanitis in most children. However, recurrent balanitis may require surgical intervention, such as circumcision.

This post tells you about the causes, symptoms, treatment, complications, and prevention methods for balanitis in children.

In This Article

Causes Of Balanitis In Children

Children are more likely to develop chemical balanitis, a mild redness due to irritation from soaps or other irritants. Approximately 5% of boys younger than five years may develop infectious balanitis.

Balanitis may occur in children due to the following reasons (1).

  • Pulling or touching the foreskin frequently
  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal (yeast) infections
  • Poor hygiene, resulting in the build-up of smegma (secretion of oil glands under the foreskiniXA double-layered fold of skin that covers the glans and urethral opening of the penis. ) that may irritate the skin
  • Irritation from urine
  • Irritation from soaps, shower gels, and other products
  • Phimosis (tight foreskin)
  • Skin or dermatological problems, such as eczema or psoriasis
  • Diabetes may increase the risk

Balanitis is usually seen in uncircumcised boys, meaning those who have an intact foreskin. Uncircumcised boys may develop inflammation of the foreskin known as posthitis with similar etiologici iX Causing the disease or contributing to a disease’s development factors.

Symptoms And Signs Of Balanitis In Children

Balanitis may cause penile discomfort and itching in children. You may also notice redness and inflammation of the glans. The foreskin may appear tight and may not be able to retracti iXWhen the foreskin of the penis separates from the glans. adequately in uncircumcised boys.

The common symptoms and signs of balanitis may include (2):

  • Erythema (redness)
  • Whitish spots
  • Swelling and soreness
  • Itching
  • Thick fluid build-up
  • Foul smell
  • Increased tightness of the foreskin
  • Pain during urination
  • Fever

Fever is one of the common signs of infectious balanitis. You may seek prompt pediatric care from a specialist if your son has symptoms of balanitis since the infection may spread to the urinary tract. Usually, balanitis does not cause severe problems in children. However, repeated infections may warrant surgical treatments.

Complications Of Balanitis In Children

In rare cases, balanitis may occur with posthitis, an inflammation of the foreskin. If balanitis and posthitis occur together, it is called Balanoposthitis. Recurrent balanitis with phimosis (tight foreskin) may cause phimosis to last longer if balanitis is left untreated. It may also increase the risk of frequent urinary tract infections (3).

Although most cases may resolve within a few days without any treatment, recurrent balanitis may cause severe pain, penile discharge, and scarring in children. Scarring may interfere with urine flow and cause discomfort. You may seek medical care if your child has balanitis more than once.

Prevention Of Balanitis In Children

Ensuring good personal hygiene may help prevent balanitis in children. The preventive measures may include the following.

  • Do not frequently retract the foreskin.
  • Keep the penile area as dry and clean as possible.
  • Wash with lukewarm water regularly.
  • Avoid soaps, gels, and other products that may irritate the skin.

Parents may ensure penile hygiene for young boys. You may also teach your child to keep the area clean from an early age. Speak to a doctor to learn more about good penile hygiene.

protip_icon Quick fact
Nappy rash can irritate a child’s penis and may cause balanitis. Changing their nappies often can avert this risk (5).

Diagnosis Of Balanitis In Children

Symptoms and physical examination of the penis could help diagnose balanitis in children. Additional tests are often ordered to exclude the diagnosis of certain infections that may cause similar symptoms. Bacterial or fungal infections are often diagnosed by analyzing urine samples or swabs from the secretions present on the penis.

protip_icon Quick fact
A doctor may advise a blood test for diabetes if the treatment for balanitis is ineffective, its cause is unclear, or the infection is severe, and thrush is present (1).

Treatments For Balanitis In Children

Most cases of balanitis can be managed conservatively without any surgical procedures. Conservative managementiXUse of oral and topical medical treatment and other non-invasive procedures. may include taking adequate hygiene measures and avoiding irritants. The other treatment options may include the following (1).

1. Medications

Antibiotics oral or topical antibiotic creams are prescribed for bacterial infections. Fungal infections are treated with topical antifungal creams. Steroid creams are often prescribed to reduce the severity of symptoms.

The condition usually improves within a few days of treatment, but you may have to complete the full treatment course to avoid recurrence.

protip_icon Quick tip
Having the child soak in a bathtub containing warm water and a teaspoon of salt may help reduce the inflammation (4). You can repeat the soak two to three times a day or follow expert advice.

2. Balanitis surgery

Children may have a second episode of infection if the earlier infection is not treated properly. Failure to ensure good hygiene could also increase the risk of another bout of infectious balanitis. Surgical treatment is chosen if the child has a recurrent infection and does not respond to other treatment options, such as medications. CircumcisioniXSurgical removal of the foreskin of the penis. , the removal of the foreskin, is the surgical treatment for balanitis.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What can be mistaken for balanitis?

Skin conditions such as psoriasis and other uncommon conditions of the penile skin may be mistaken for balanitis (6). Dr. Luke Prest, a board-certified pediatrician from Ardmore, Pennsylvania, says, “Diseases such as nummular eczema, a reaction to medications, a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, and scabies can be mistaken for balanitis.

2. How do I know if I have balanitis, bacterial or fungal?

It can be ascertained only if the doctor orders specific tests to identify the causative organism.

3. Can I use Vaseline for balanitis?

You can apply soft white paraffin ointment (petroleum jelly or Vaseline® ointment) under the foreskin after bathing or showering (7). This may help with balanitis. However, ensure the area is thoroughly cleaned daily, as petroleum jelly may attract dust and dirt.

4. Is Epsom salt good for balanitis?

Add a teaspoon of the regular table salt to a bathtub of clean, warm water. Have your child soak in it and ensure that the water is deep enough to cover the penis. Repeat two to three times a day (8). However, consult a doctor about using Epsom salt for this purpose.

Balanitis in children mainly occurs due to poor hygiene or certain infections and usually resolves by itself within a day or two. However, if the symptoms persist and cause irritation, it is advised to consult the doctor for a proper diagnosis. If left untreated, balanitis might lead to severe urinary tract infection. Teach your boys to regularly clean the penile area with lukewarm water and keep the area as dry as possible to avoid complications.

Infographic: Identify And Cure Balanitis In Children

Balanitis can be uncomfortable, and as a parent, you may like to resolve the problem soon. Take a look at the following infographic, which provides the following information about balanitis.

  • What causes balanitis
  • Symptoms of balanitis
  • Preventive measures for balanitis
identify and cure balanitis in children (Infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Balanitis or inflammation of the head or glans of the penis in children may occur due to a reaction from soaps or other irritants.
  • Other factors such as infections and skin problems may also contribute to the swelling, itching, or other symptoms of Balanitis.
  • Recurrent Balanitis may cause urinary tract infection.
  • Mild symptoms may resolve in a few days, but severe ones may require medicines or medical treatment.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Balanitis; National Health Service
2. Balanitis; DermNet NZ
3. Balanitis In Children; London Children’s Surgery
4. Balanitis (Child); Patient Education; Fairview
5. Penis and foreskin care; The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne
6. Balanitis; Sexual Health Sheffield
7. Balanitis & Balano-Posthitis; The Australian College of Dermatologists
8. Balanitis (Child). Fairview Health Services
Was this article helpful?
The following two tabs change content below.