The penis is generally divided into three main segments – the root, the body, and the glans. The glans is the tip of the penis, and the urethra opening is also located there. Dryness, itchiness, redness, or any discomfort around the glans are symptoms of penis irritation. It can also present with swelling, pain, soreness, flaking of the skin, and even discharge. While penis irritation can be due to irritation from clothing or friction during masturbation or sexual intercourse, it might also be caused by more severe conditions that require treatment.
The causes of penis irritation can be divided into infective and noninfective causes.
Inflammation of the tip of the penis, otherwise known as balanitis, is one of the most common causes of penis irritation. Balanitis can be caused by an infection, or it could be due to irritation by chemical products such as soap, clothing, washing powder, latex, etc. Candidiasis is a fungal infection, and it is common in men who have not been circumcised.
In men who are sexually active, sexually transmitted infections might be a cause of penis irritation. There are many STIs such as Herpes, Syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Herpes presents with fluid-filled blisters and painful skin ulcers. In the early stages of Syphilis, a painless ulcer might be seen, known as chancres. If it is untreated, it will progress to the second or third stages, where there might be systemic symptoms such as a generalized rash and fever. It is recommended to get an STI screen from your family doctor and get treated immediately.
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition, and it can occur in the genital region. It is noncontagious, and symptoms include the appearance of red patches on the glans or even the body of the penis. There might also be skin peeling. Similar patches can be observed in other parts of the body. Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is another skin condition different from psoriasis. This condition causes intense itching, and the rash might be scaly. It can also occur anywhere on the body, and it is normally made worse by allergen products such as soaps, detergents, and fabrics.
Other symptoms that might warrant an immediate assessment by a health care professional are painful urination, discharge from the glans, and intense pain.
To determine the treatment required for penis irritation, identifying the cause of crucial. While infective causes like balanitis, candidiasis, and STIs require specific treatment such as antibiotics and antivirals, inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema also have specific treatment creams that may improve the condition.
There are some simple treatment methods to resolve penis irritation that could be done easily. For uncircumcised men, the affected areas should be washed thoroughly, including the area under the foreskin. After using the toilet, the head of the penis should be kept clean and dry. Some over-the-counter pain relievers might lead to tempo relief of the discomfort. However, if symptoms do not resolve even after 2 days of home treatment, a health consult should be sought as soon as possible.
Dryness and Itching of the glans can be a simple problem due to irritation from clothing or friction, but it might also be a sign of more severe conditions requiring prompt treatment. Men who are sexually active are recommended to go for a health screen.