Is Balanitis Contagious?

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Itchy Penis Causes

Itching in the area of the penis or external genital organs occurs for many of the same reasons that itching occurs elsewhere on the body. Examples of causes of penile itching includes:

  • infections (for example, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), jock itch, scabies, and pubic lice),
  • balanitis,
  • tight undergarments,
  • allergic reactions,
  • skin friction,
  • other conditions.

What is balanitis?

Balanitis is an inflammation of the head of the penis and/or foreskin that surrounds the head of the penis in uncircumcised men. However, not everyone agrees with this definition. For example, some consider balanitis as only inflammation of the penis head while inflammation of the foreskin is posthitis and when both structures are inflamed, the problem is referred to as balanoposthitis. For the purpose of this article, balanitis will be considered an inflammation of the head of the penis and/or surrounding foreskin.

  • Males who are predisposed to developing balanitis include those with:
  • Males who are more likely to develop balanitis include those:
    • with poor personal hygiene
    • who are sensitive to chemical irritants (for example, soaps and lubricants)
    • that have drug allergies
  • Males with diabetes are at increased risk of developing balanitis and diabetes is a very common cause of balanitis. Glucose (sugar) on the skin encourages bacterial and fungal growth, particularly males:
    • with uncontrolled diabetes (people with uncontrolled diabetes have high glucose levels in their urine), and
    • that have diabetes and take medications that causes more sugar to be excreted in the urine, for example dapagliflozin (Forxiga).
  • Balanitis can be a distinct clinical feature in men with reactive arthritis.
  • Balanitis can be caused by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/2/2016

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Men's Health Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors