Medical Definition of Glans and foreskin, inflammation of the

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Glans and foreskin, inflammation of the: 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 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 "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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