Medical Definition of Glans penis, inflammation of the

  • Medical Author:
    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.

Glans penis, inflammation of the: Inflammation of the rounded head (the glans) of the penis is called balanitis.

In the uncircumcised male, balanitis and posthitis (inflammation of the foreskin) usually occur together as balanoposthitis: inflammation of both the glans and the foreskin.

Circumcision prevents balanoposthitis. Without a foreskin, there can of course be no posthitis and hence no balanoposthitis.

An uncircumcised boy should be taught to clean his penis with care to prevent infection and inflammation of the glans. Cleaning of the penis is done by gently, not forcibly, retracting the foreskin. The foreskin should be retracted only to the point where resistance is met. Full retraction of the foreskin is usually possible by age 5, but some boys are not able to retract their foreskins until the teen years.

The term "balano-", referring to the glans of the penis (or clitoris), comes from the Greek word "balanos" meaning acorn. The term "-itis" means inflammation. So, balanitis = inflammation of the glans.

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Reviewed on 10/30/2018

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