Medical Definition of Balanoposthitis

  • 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.

Balanoposthitis: In the uncircumcised male, balanitis (inflammation of the glans, the rounded head of the penis) and posthitis (inflammation of the foreskin) usually occur together as balanoposthitis: inflammation of both the glans and 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 foreskin and the glans penis. 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 may not be possible until the age of 3 or more.

The term "balano-", referring to the glans of the penis (or clitoris), comes from the Greek word "balanos" meaning acorn. The term "posthitis" (pronounced pos-THI-tis) also comes from the Greek, from "posthe" meaning foreskin + "-itis", inflammation = inflammation of the foreskin. So, balanoposthitis = inflammation of the glans and foreskin.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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