Foreskin (Penis Tip) Infection - Treatment, Causes & Symptoms

A penis infection or foreskin infection is a common condition that is characterized by pain and inflammation of the penis. A penis infection can be caused by a multitude of reasons and generally isn't a cause of concern.

Most cases of penis infection can be treated through non-surgical methods such as antibiotics and topical creams. However, severe or recurrent cases may require surgical intervention.

In this article, we will discuss penis infection, its causes, treatment options, the recovery process, and everything else you may need to know. 

Types of Penis Skin Infection

There are primarily three types of infection on penis skin

Balanitis

Balanitis is one of the most common types of infection on the penis. Balanitis is a condition of the penis that causes pain and inflammation of the penile glans or the head of the penis. Most cases of balanitis can be easily treated with antibiotics and antifungal creams. However, recurrent cases may require circumcision, which is the surgical removal of the foreskin. Symptoms of balanitis include redness, itchiness, swelling in the penis, and pain while urinating.

Posthitis

Posthitis is a foreskin infection that is described by pain and inflammation of the foreskin instead of the glans. Symptoms of posthitis are similar to balanitis, and most cases can be treated with medications and topical creams. Severe cases, however, may require surgical intervention.

Balanoposthitis

Balanoposthitis is inflammation of the head of your penis and the foreskin. Balanoposthitis can be caused by poor hygiene, bacterial or fungal infections, STIs, and allergies. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and discoloration. While most cases can be treated with proper hygiene and medications, recurrent cases may require surgery. 

What are the Causes of Penis Infection?

Some of the most common causes of penis infection are given below:

  • Poor Hygiene: Poor genital hygiene is one of the most common causes of penis and foreskin infections. Due to excessive accumulation of bacteria and smegma in your penis glans, and foreskin, chances of developing an infection become high. It is crucial to maintain good genital hygiene and regularly wash your penis using mild soap. 
  • Bacterial Infections: Bacterial infection on penis skin, such as Streptococcus, Haemophilus parainfluenza, Klebsiella, and Staphylococcus epidermidis, can also lead to penis infection.
  • Yeast Infections: A penile yeast infection is usually caused by a fungus called Candida. Sexual intercourse with a person with vaginal yeast infection or poor genital hygiene can lead to a penile yeast infection. 
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections: Sexually Transmitted Infections or STIs pass through sexual contact. Penis infection caused by an STI is usually treatable with antibiotics. Some examples of STIs that could lead to penis infection include gonorrhea, chlamydia, and herpes.
  • Eczema: Penile eczema is a condition that causes the skin on your penis to become dry, discolored, itchy, and bumpy. If you scratch eczema on your penis, you may break your skin which could inadvertently lead to infection. 
  • Phimosis: Phimosis is a foreskin condition that is characterized by the inability of the foreskin to be retracted over the head of the penis. Phimosis can be very discomforting and, if left untreated, can lead to recurrent penis infection. While mild to moderate cases of phimosis can be treated using phimosis creams, severe cases require circumcision. 

How is Penis Infection Treated?

Depending on the type, severity, and cause of your penis infection, the best suitable method of treatment will probably vary.

Most cases of penis infection can be treated effectively with antibiotics and topical creams prescribed by your urologist. However, severe or recurrent cases may require circumcision, a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the foreskin.

To ensure effective treatment, your urologist will likely perform some simple diagnostic tests.  

Before moving on to the different types of surgical treatment for penis infection, let us discuss what to expect during the diagnosis of your penis infection.

Diagnosis of Foreskin Infection (Penile Infection)

Diagnosis of penis infection is a relatively simple procedure and usually begins with a routine physical examination. Your doctor will also likely ask you about your entire medical and surgical history and if you are on any preexisting medications. It is crucial to answer the questions to the best of your ability. To better understand your condition, your urologist may also perform some additional diagnostic tests, such as:

  • Blood Tests: A routine blood test is one of the most commonly performed medical tests and is generally performed to check signs of infections, diabetes, or any other condition.
  • Urinalysis: A urinalysis test is performed to analyze your urine’s visual, chemical, and microscopic aspects. This test is generally performed to check for signs of infection and diabetes.
  • Urethral Discharge Culture: A urethral discharge culture is a test that is performed to detect sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea and chlamydia. 

Circumcision Procedure

As previously mentioned, there are primarily three methods of performing a circumcision procedure for foreskin infection treatment:

  • Laser Circumcision: A laser circumcision procedure is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that your urologist may recommend to remove the foreskin. As the name suggests, a laser circumcision uses a medical laser to make precise incisions along a predetermined incision line around the penis. The entire procedure is performed under local anesthesia and does not take more than 15-20 minutes to complete. 
  • Stapler Circumcision: Stapler circumcision is another alternative method of foreskin removal that your urologist may recommend. A stapler circumcision is performed using a stapler device, an advanced and disposable surgical tool that is specially designed to remove the foreskin. A stapler device fits snugly around the head of the penis and, once fired, removes the foreskin in one quick motion. The stapler device also closes the incision wound using a silicone ring to minimize bleeding and promote better healing. This ring will fall off on its own once the surgical site has healed completely.
  • Open Circumcision: Open circumcision is a more conventional form of foreskin removal. In an open circumcision, the urologist uses a scalpel or surgical scissors to remove the foreskin. This is achieved by making an incision along the upper length of the foreskin from the tip of the corona to expose the penile glans. Compared to laser or stapler circumcision, open circumcision is more invasive in nature and requires longer recovery time. Due to its invasive nature, it also carries a significant risk of complications and infection as well. 

What To Expect After Penis Infection Surgery

Circumcision surgery to treat penis or foreskin infection is typically performed on an outpatient basis, meaning you can go home on the same day of surgery.

Your urologist is likely to schedule some postoperative follow-ups to ensure timely treatment of any complications and smooth recovery.

During these visits, your urologist will examine the surgical site and check for signs of excessive bleeding, infection, or any other complication. The doctor will also likely ask if you have noticed any odd signs of recovery. If recovery is going as expected, the wound will be left open to recover. 

While a complete recovery can take anywhere from 1-2 weeks, you can return to work in just a few days after surgery. To ensure a smooth recovery and minimize the chances of any complications, your urologist will also likely ask you to follow some simple, easy tips and guidelines.

It is imperative that you follow any such guidelines to the best of your ability. If you notice anything strange or any persistent side effects, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Recovery After Penis Infection Surgery

On average, recovery after a circumcision surgery to treat foreskin infection takes anywhere from 1-2 weeks. However, depending on various factors, such as the method of surgery, your overall health, and the quality of postoperative care, recovery time may vary.

During this period, your urologist may also lay down some easy-to-follow guidelines and tips to ensure a smooth recovery, such as:

  • Keep the surgical site clean and dry.
  • Refrain from any sexual activity until your doctor thinks it’s safe.
  • Avoid swimming pools
  • Stay hydrated. Drink at least 2 liters of water every day.
  • Refrain from strenuous activity or exercises that exert excessive force on the surgical site.
  • Refrain from alcohol consumption or smoking for at least 48 hours after surgery.

Benefits of Penis Infection Surgery

Along with its ability to effectively treat penis or foreskin infection, a circumcision procedure also has various benefits, such as:

  • Easier Hygiene: With the removal of the foreskin, it becomes much easier to wash the penis regularly. Maintaining good genital hygiene can not only treat foreskin infection but also minimize the chances of recurrence.
  • Decreased Risk of Urinary Tract Infection: Urinary Tract Infection or UTI is an infection that occurs in any part of the urinary system. The risk of UTI in men is already low, but they are found to be more common among uncircumcised men. 
  • Decreased Risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections: Studies suggest that circumcised men are at a lower risk of sexually transmitted infections as compared to uncircumcised men. However, safe sexual practices remain essential.
  • Prevention of Penile Problems: Circumcision is generally considered to be an effective treatment of various penis-related conditions such as phimosis, paraphimosis, balanitis, etc. A circumcision can also ensure that the chances of recurrence for any of the mentioned conditions are minimal.
  • Decreased Risk of Penile Cancer: Although cancer of the penis is rare, it’s less common in circumcised men.

Risks and Complications 

Complications of any kind, either during or after a circumcision procedure, are rare. However, as is the case with any other surgical procedure, they can still happen. Some complications that are usually associated with circumcision surgery are given below:

  • Bleeding: Some mild to moderate bleeding after your circumcision surgery is to be expected. However, if bleeding seems excessive or persistent, it could be a sign of complication. It is advisable to consult with your urologist at the earliest.
  • Infection: Wound infection is one of the most common complications that can occur after your circumcision procedure. Symptoms generally include chills, redness, and drainage of yellowish pus from the incision site. If you start noticing any of the mentioned symptoms, it is advised to contact your urologist as soon as possible.
  • Inclusion Cysts: Epidermal inclusion cyst is a rare complication of male circumcision. Inclusion cysts may form along the cut edge and are thought to result from smegma accumulating in the incision. Inclusion cysts may be asymptomatic, but surgical excision may be necessary if size or infection is problematic.
  • Insufficient Removal of the Foreskin: Typically, a circumcision procedure removes the foreskin to the level where the penis glans are completely exposed. In some cases, however, insufficient foreskin may be removed. This can lead to ineffective treatment of penis/foreskin infection or unsatisfactory cosmetic results. In such a case, you may require revision treatments for correction.
  • Abnormal Healing: As is the case with any other surgical procedure, chances of abnormal healing are present with circumcision procedure as well. Before surgery, your urologist will likely perform a series of tests to understand your overall health better and minimize any chances of abnormal healing.

Conclusion

Penis and foreskin infections are relatively common conditions that are characterized by inflammation of the penis glans and foreskin.

Foreskin infection usually isn’t a cause of concern. In most cases, it can be effectively treated with non-surgical alternatives such as penis infection medicine and topical creams. However, recurrent cases may require surgical intervention.

If you are struggling with symptoms of foreskin infection, following a prescribed treatment plan which may include medications, personal hygiene, and surgical intervention, is crucial. 

FAQs

Is foreskin infection contagious?

No, a foreskin infection itself is not contagious and cannot spread through physical contact. However, it is possible for the underlying cause of your infection to spread. For example, if the reason behind your foreskin infection is an STD, it can still spread through sexual intercourse.

Is foreskin infection surgery covered under insurance?

Yes, a circumcision procedure to treat foreskin infection is covered by most insurance plans in India if it is deemed a medical necessity by your healthcare provider. 

Can I have sex if I have foreskin infection?

No, it is highly recommended to refrain from sexual intercourse if you are struggling with foreskin infection. Intercourse in such a condition can add to the pain and discomfort and may aggravate the symptoms you are facing. It is also possible for your partner to become infected with the underlying cause of your foreskin infection (penis skin infection) as well. Therefore, intercourse is to be avoided until your doctor thinks it is safe to do so.

Which doctor to consult for penis infection?

If you are struggling with symptoms of a penis infection, your healthcare provider may advise you to consult with a urologist. A urologist is a doctor who specializes in the treatment of diseases and conditions affecting the urinary system, kidney, urethra, penis, prostate, and adrenal glands.

Can foreskin infection be treated with medications?

Yes, a foreskin infection can be treated through non-surgical options such as antibiotics. Some of the most commonly prescribed penis infection medications that your urologist may prescribe include Amoxicillin and Ceftriaxone. However, depending on the type of infection on the penis skin, prescription may vary.

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