Swollen Penis Treatment - Causes, Symptoms and Surgery

A swollen penis is generally regarded as a symptom of a medical condition rather than a condition itself. A swelling on penis can occur for a multitude of reasons. While in some cases, it may occur due to an underlying condition such as balanitis or allergic reactions, in other cases, it can also be due to physical injury to the penis.

In most cases, however, Swollen Penis is not considered to be serious, and most cases can be treated by addressing the underlying cause. But in some severe cases, you may require surgical intervention as well. In this article, we will discuss about swollen penis and everything you may need to know about it.

Causes of Swollen Penis

There are many possible reasons you may have a swollen penis. Depending on the reason behind your penile swelling, the best suitable treatment for you may also vary. Some of the most common causes of a swollen penis include:

Balanitis

Balanitis is a condition of the penis that is characterized by pain and inflammation of the penis glans (head of the penis). Balanitis is a fairly common condition, and a swollen penis is one of its primary symptoms. Treatment for balanitis generally includes antifungal creams and antibiotics. However, severe or recurrent cases may require circumcision surgery as well.

Penile Fracture

Even though there is no bone in the penis, it can experience something that urologists call a ‘fracture.’ A penile fracture is an uncommon yet serious injury of the penis that can result in swelling in the penis. A fracture of the penis is typically a result of an injury during sexual activity. 

Allergic Reaction

If your penis comes in contact with something that you are allergic to or causes irritation, you may experience some degree of penile swelling. Latex is one of the most common causes of swelling in penis caused by allergic reactions. Some other symptoms of allergic reactions include itchiness, rash, redness, discoloration, and raised bumps on the skin. If you are having an allergic reaction due to any product, cease its use immediately and consult your healthcare provider, if symptoms persist.

Phimosis

Phimosis is a condition of the penis that is characterized by the inability of the foreskin to be retracted over the penile glans. Phimosis itself is generally not a cause of concern and can be left alone if it is asymptomatic. However, if it causes symptoms such as difficulty urinating, pain while urinating, painful intercourse, and swelling of the penis, you may require surgical intervention such as circumcision. 

Paraphimosis

Paraphimosis is a medical condition where the foreskin cannot return to its original position once it has been retracted. Because of such restriction, the foreskin wraps around the penis like a tight rubber band and obstructs, or even stop, proper blood flow to the penile glans. This can result in a swollen penis. Paraphimosis is generally considered to be a medical emergency, and circumcision is considered to be a safe and effective treatment.

Posthitis

A swollen foreskin is one of the most common symptoms of posthitis. Posthitis is a condition that is characterized by pain and inflammation of the foreskin. Posthitis can also sometimes occur alongside balanitis, which is called balanoposthitis. Similar to balanitis, posthitis can be treated with antibiotics and antifungal creams. Severe or recurrent cases, however, may require a circumcision procedure for treatment.

Priapism

Penile swelling is one of the main symptoms of priapism, a condition of the penis that occurs when blood remains in your penis and cannot drain. Priapism is common among people who use intracavernosal treatment for erectile dysfunction and may require aspiration to drain excess blood. 

Symptoms of a Swollen Penis

While a swollen penis itself is a symptom, depending on the reason behind your condition, you may also notice some additional symptoms such as:
  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Foul Odor
  • Painful urination
  • Blisters
  • Dryness
  • Whitish-yellow discharge 
Alongside swelling on the penis, if you are struggling with any of the above-given symptoms, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Based on your symptoms and a series of diagnostic tests, your urologist will be able to determine the cause of your condition and recommend a suitable treatment for it. 

Treatment for Penis Swelling

Surgical Treatment

The treatment of a swollen penis depends on the underlying causes. Generally, ointments, steroid creams, and anti-fungal creams are prescribed by the doctor for the treatment of swollen penis. However, if they fail to show any significant results, your urologist may recommend a circumcision procedure. Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin and is an effective solution for a swollen penis. There are primarily 3 methods of performing a circumcision surgery:

Laser Circumcision

Laser circumcision is an advanced and minimally invasive surgical procedure that your urologist may perform to treat swollen penis. In laser circumcision, the surgeon uses a highly focused beam of laser to make precise cuts around a predetermined incision line. Laser circumcision does not involve any risk of deep cuts or excessive bleeding. Alongside this, it ensures better healing. The entire operation does not take more than 10-15 minutes to complete, and recovery can take anywhere from 7-10 days after the surgery . 

Stapler Circumcision

A stapler circumcision is another alternative that your urologist may recommend to treat swollen penis caused by the foreskin. In a stapler circumcision, the surgeon uses a stapler device, an advanced and disposable surgical tool, to remove the foreskin. This stapler device fits snugly around the head of the penis and, once fired, removes the foreskin. This stapler device also leaves a silicone ring around the incision wound to close it off and prevent excessive bleeding. The ring will fall off once the incision wound has healed completely (which generally takes 7-14 days.

Open Circumcision

Medically referred to as the open-dorsal slit technique, open circumcision is a conventional method of foreskin removal. In an open circumcision, the urologist uses a scalpel or surgical scissors to cut and remove the foreskin. Due to its invasive nature, an open circumcision procedure takes longer to heal and carries a slightly increased risk of complications. However, such cases are rare, and the procedure is generally considered effective in treating swollen penis caused by foreskin issues.

Non-Surgical Treatment

There are several non-surgical treatments that may effectively treat penis swelling caused by infection, bacteria, and minor injuries. Similar to surgical treatment, the appropriate non-surgical treatment will likely vary depending on the reason behind your swelling. Some non-surgical treatments that your urologist may suggest to treat penis swelling include:
  • Cold Compress: Applying cold compression to swollen areas can provide significant relief from swelling and inflammation you may be facing. Simply wrap some ice in a cloth and apply it directly over the affected area. Avoid using cold compresses for more than 20 minutes at a time.
  • Antibiotics: If the swelling is caused by an infection, your healthcare provider may prescribe you some medications, such as Amoxicillin and Ceftriaxone. 
  • Antifungal Creams: In cases where penis swelling is caused by a yeast infection, your urologist may prescribe you some antifungal creams, such as Clotrimazole and Lotrimin, for treatment.
  • Antihistamines: If the swelling is caused by an allergic reaction, over-the-counter antihistamines may help in providing relief from swelling and inflammation. 
  • Good Genital Hygiene: Simply maintaining good genital hygiene can not only treat penis swelling but also minimize the chances of recurrence. Make sure to wash under your foreskin regularly and prevent excess accumulation of any smegma or bacteria. 
  • Warm Water Soaks: Soaking the penis in warm water for short periods can help reduce swelling and promote healing. Be sure to use lukewarm water. Avoid excessively hot water as it can worsen your condition and may cause burns.

Postoperative Care and Recovery After Swollen Penis Surgery

On average, recovery after a swollen penis surgery takes about 7-10 days. Most patients can return to their daily life in just 2-3 days of rest. However, depending on some factors, such as your overall health, method of surgery, and quality of postoperative care, recovery time may vary. To minimize the chances of any postoperative complications as much as possible, your urologist will likely recommend some easy-to-follow tips and guidelines as well. It is essential to follow these guidelines to the best of your ability.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of healthy fluids, such as coconut water and fresh fruit juices. 
  • Avoid any strenuous activities or exercises that may exert too much force on the surgical site. Instead, perform low-impact exercises such as walking. 
  • Refrain from consumption of any processed or junk food. Prioritize nutritious food in your diet.
  • Avoid swimming pools and public baths for at least a few weeks after surgery.
  • Refrain from sexual intercourse for at least 4-5 weeks after surgery or until your doctor thinks it's safe to do so.
  • Refrain from alcohol consumption or smoking for at least 48 hours after surgery. 
  • Make sure to attend every follow-up consultation scheduled by your doctor. If there are any complications during your recovery, these consultations will allow your doctor to identify and address them.

What Happens If Swollen Penis is Left Untreated?

A swollen penis is usually a symptom of an underlying condition such as balanitis, balanoposthitis, phimosis, or penile injury. If it is left untreated for a long period, it could not only lead to a worsening of the swelling but also lead to further complications of the condition causing the swelling.  Some complications that may occur when a swollen penis is left untreated -
  • If the reason behind your penis swelling is balanitis, delaying treatment could lead to complications such as Balanitis Xerotica Obliterans (BXO) or chronic inflammation of the penis. If you are struggling with swelling on penis, it is imperative to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible. 
  • If the reason behind your penis swelling is foreskin conditions such as phimosis or paraphimosis, delaying treatment could lead to infection, gangrene, damage to the penis, and in some cases, penile cancer.
  • If treatment of a swelling penis due to a penile fracture is delayed, a penile fracture can cause further complications, such as long-lasting sexual and anatomical dysfunction. 
  • If swelling in the penis due to priapism is left untreated, it could lead to serious complications such as damage to penile tissue and Erectile Dysfunction (ED). 

Risks and Complications of Swollen Penis Surgery

While complications of any kind after a circumcision surgery are rare, they can still happen and should not be taken lightly. If you start noticing any persistent side effects or odd signs during recovery, it is advised to inform your healthcare provider about them. Some complications that are associated with circumcision surgery are given below:
  • Infection: Infection is one of the most common complications that can occur after circumcision surgery. Symptoms of an infection include fever, chills, redness, and drainage of yellowish pus from the incision site. If you start exhibiting any of the mentioned symptoms, it is crucial to contact your healthcare provider immediately.
  • Bleeding: While some mild to moderate bleeding after a surgical procedure is to be expected, excessive or persistent bleeding may be a sign of complication. In such a case, it is advisable to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
  • Excessive Removal of the Foreskin: Although uncommon, it is possible to remove excessive foreskin from the penis. In such a case, you will likely require revision procedures for correction.
  • Meatal Stenosis: Meatal stenosis is a complication that may occur after your circumcision operation. Meatal stenosis is the narrowing of the urethral opening and usually does not require any treatment. However, severe cases may lead to further complications such as deflection of the urinary stream, dribbling of urine, and dysuria.
  • Necrosis of the Penis: While extremely rare, cases of necrosis have been reported after circumcision surgery. 

Conclusion

Swollen penis is generally not considered to be indicative of any major health issue but can be discomforting and embarrassing. However, timely identification and diagnosis can not only help you treat such a swelling but also minimize its chances of recurrence. While most cases can be treated with non-surgical methods such as antibiotics and antifungal creams, severe or persistent cases may require circumcision surgery as well. If you are struggling with a swollen penis, it is advisable to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

FAQs

What is the best way to treat swollen penis?

A Circumcision surgery is generally considered to be a safe and effective swollen penis treatment. Circumcision is a commonly performed urological procedure that involves the removal of the foreskin.

Does penis get swollen because of HIV?

Alongside symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and pneumonia, swelling in penis is one of the primary symptoms of HIV. If you are exhibiting any of the mentioned symptoms, it is imperative to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Why is my foreskin swollen but causing no pain?

If you have a swollen foreskin that does not exhibit any pain, it could be a sign of an infection. In such cases, it is advised to consult with your urologist. Even if there is no pain, leaving a swollen foreskin untreated could lead to a multitude of complications.

Can I have sex if I have a swollen penis?

You should avoid having sex if you have a swollen penis, especially if you are unaware of its cause. Sex can cause further irritation, which can aggravate the swelling. If you have sex, wearing a condom can help protect your skin and reduce discomfort.

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