Balanitis In Children

Balanitis is inflammation of the head of the penis (glans). It often appears with a diaper rash.

What are the causes?

This condition may be caused by:

  • Continued contact with urine, such as when a baby sits in a wet diaper.

  • Cleaning products that are used for the diaper or in the diaper area.

  • Bacteria or yeast that are normally found in the diaper area.

  • Poor hygiene.

  • Pulling the foreskin back too forcefully.

What are the signs or symptoms?

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The main symptom of this condition is redness and swelling of the tip of the penis. Other symptoms include:

  • Itching in the genital area.

  • Redness and swelling of the shaft of the penis.

  • Redness and swelling of the foreskin in babies who are not circumcised.

  • Pain with urination.

  • Pain when the diaper area is cleaned.

  • Discharge from the penis.

  • A rash in the groin.

  • Bad smelling discharge from under the foreskin.

How is this diagnosed?

This condition is diagnosed with a physical exam. If the area is infected, it may be swabbed so that the cause of the infection can be identified.

How is this treated?

Treatment for this condition depends on the cause. Treatment may include:

  • Cleaning the area often.

  • Keeping the glans and foreskin dry.

  • Giving sitz baths.

  • Keeping the area from becoming irritated.

  • Giving medicine. You may need to give the medicine by mouth or apply the medicine to your baby’s skin.

Follow these instructions at home:

Medicines

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  • Give over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your baby’s health care provider.

  • Apply ointment as told by your health care provider. If your baby was prescribed an antibiotic ointment, apply it as told by your baby’s health care provider. Do not stop using the antibiotic ointment even if your baby’s condition improves.

  • Do not give your child aspirin because of the association with Reye’s syndrome.

Bathing

  • Use mild soap that has no perfume (is fragrance-free).

  • Give sitz baths as told by your baby’s health care provider.

General instructions

  • Keep the area clean and dry.

  • Dry gently by blotting with a dry cloth.

  • Change your baby’s diapers as soon as they are wet. Ask other caregivers to do this as well.

  • Allow for some diaper-free time as much as possible until healed.

  • Do not use diaper wipes until this problem goes away. Use warm water instead.

  • If you use cloth diapers, use a mild detergent. Do not use bleach until the skin has healed. It may be best to switch to disposable diapers until the condition clears up.

  • Avoid rubbing the red areas.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • The redness and swelling are not better in 2–3 days.

  • The problem comes back after it improved.

  • The redness and swelling get worse.

  • Your baby has a fever.

Get help right away if:

  • Your baby who is younger than 3 months has a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher.

  • Your baby has symptoms for more than 72 hours.

  • Your baby’s symptoms suddenly get worse.

  • Pus is coming from the tip of your baby’s penis.

  • Your baby cannot urinate.

Summary

  • Balanitis is inflammation of the head of the penis (glans). It often appears with a diaper rash.

  • Treatment for this condition may include cleaning the area often and giving medicine either by mouth or by applying it to your baby’s skin.

  • Change your baby’s diapers as soon as they are wet. Ask other caregivers to do this as well.

  • Clean the area often. Dry the area gently by blotting with a dry cloth.

  • Contact a health care provider if the redness and swelling are not better in 2–3 days.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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