Dr. med. Dirk Manski

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Balanitis: Etiology, Diagnosis and Therapy

References: (Buechner, 2002) (Schütte, 2003).

Definition of Balanitis

A Balanitis is an infectious or non-infectious inflammation of the glans penis and the prepuce. The accurate medical term for a lesion involving glans and prepuce is balanoposthitis.

Etiology of Balanitis

Balanitis in children:

Balanitis in children usually arises from an infection of the smegma on the basis of a phimosis or non-retractile foreskin.

Balanitis caused by infection:

Candida, bacteria, viruses (herpes). Oral therapy of diabetes mellitus with SGLT-2 inhibitors (e.g., dapagliflozin) leads to chronic glucosuria, this significantly increases the risk of external genital infections.

Balanitis circinata:

erosive plaques with slightly raised edges on the glans due to a Reiter syndrome.

1–4 weeks after urogenital infection or intestinal infection patients may develop a Reiter syndrome: fever, malaise, urethritis (95%), prostatitis (50–80%), conjunctivitis (50–90%), arthritis (knee, ankle, ISG in 30–50%), pustular rash developing small hard nodules called keratoderma blennorrhagica (palms, soles, leg, nail involvement). In 20–50% balanitis circinata. See also section non-gonococcal urethritis.

Balanitis in psoriasis:

Manifestation of psoriasis (inversa) of the glans penis.

Gangrenous balanitis:

Fournier gangrene at the glans penis. The untreated disease can lead to organ destruction.

Balanitis plasmazelluluaris (Zoon's disease):

Bright and sharply defined erythema of the glans. The inflammatory lesion of the glans of unknown etiology is rather asymptomatic. Histology shows a plasmacellular infiltrate. A biopsy should be obtained to rule out e.g., erythroplasia of Queyrat.

Balanitis xerotica obliterans (BXO):

manifestation of lichen sclerosus on the glans penis: porcelain white spots or papules on the glans with a sharp border. The atrophy leads to phimosis, meatal stenosis, urethral stricture of the fossa navicularis or, in females, to kraurosis vulvae. Lichen sclerosus is sporadically associated with squamous cell carcinoma.

Differential diagnosis of balanitis

Non-venereal sclerosing lymphangitis of the penis:

by frequent sexual intercourse or Balanitis are risk factors for a lymphangitis of the inner foreskin with cord-like indurations.

Behcet disease:

chronic vasculitis with stomatitis (90%), iritis or conjunctivitis with hypopyon (30–90%), genital ulcers (60–90%), arthritis (20–60%), thrombophlebitis or erythema nodosum. The symptoms may alternate.

Erythroplasia Queyrat:

Squamous cell cancer in situ of the prepuce (or other non-keratinized squamous epithelium) is called erythroplasia Queyrat, whereas squamous cell cancer in situ of the skin is called Bowen disease. Erythroplasia Queyrat is a well-defined bright redness of the glans and prepuce (or vulva, anus, mouth) with a fine granulation, slightly vulnerable. Slow progression in size. May be itchy. In 30% invasion into the dermis, metastases are then possible.


In doubt of the etiology or resistance to standard care, a microbiological culture and/or biopsy should be obtained.

Treatment of Balanitis

Index: 1–9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Buechner 2002 BUECHNER, S. A.: Common skin disorders of the penis.
In: BJU Int
90 (2002), Nr. 5, S. 498-506

Schütte 2003 SCHüTTE, B.: Ausgewählte dermatologische Erkrankungen im Genitalbereich.
In: Urologe A
42 (2003), S. 514–522

  Deutsche Version: Balanitis: Entzündung der Eichel.