Non-Cancerous Conditions of the penis
Balanitis is a term used to describe inflammation of the penis and it is more common in uncircumcised men. The glans (head of the penis) may become swollen, red and painful and if they are not circumcised, men may find it difficult to retract the foreskin.
There are various causes of balanitis:
- The yeast infection candida which causes vaginal thrush in women and can be passed between partners.
- Other infections, including those that are sexually transmitted (STIs).
- Vigorous penile activity causing too much friction (such as sex).
- Chemical irritants from toiletries.
If balanitis is caused by candida, it can be treated with an anti-yeast cream and tablets. Sometimes a steroidal cream is used to reduce inflammation. Antibiotics may be needed to treat STIs.
Condyloma (Genital Warts)
Condylomas are caused after infection by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) during sex. This strain of HPV does not directly cause penile cancer although it may increase the risk of developing the disease.
It presents in the form of cauliflower shaped, pinkish growths around the penis which may cause itching, soreness, or irritation.
Condylomas can be treated using special creams and ointments. They can also be frozen or burned off if necessary. Unfortunately, none of these treatments offer a definitive cure and warts may reoccur in the future. Practicing safe sex with a condom will reduce the risk.
Cysts can occur anywhere on the body, including the shaft of the penis. They may appear as small lumps. They are made up of substances that are not cancerous and are usually painless. If they are causing other symptoms, they can be surgically removed.
Lichen Planus is an itchy, mauve rash that more commonly occurs on the wrists or shins. It can occur on the penis and will usually resolve without any treatment.
For more information on Lichen Planus from NHS Choices please click here
Pearly Penile Papules
Pearly Penile Papules occur in around 10-20% of men, usually affecting the crown of the penis. They are not infectious and do not require any treatment.
Peyronies Disease is a rare, non-cancerous condition where the shaft of the penis curves due to hardened tissue forming. This may cause the penis to bend on erection and make sexual intercourse painful. It can be treated with surgical and non-surgical procedures.
Lichen Sclerosus et Atrophicus (Balanitis Xerotica Obliterans – BXO)
This condition causes the formation of white lesions. In uncircumcised men, this can lead to phimosis. Lichen Sclerosus et Atrophicus is found in a small percentage of patients with cancer of the penis but as yet, it is unclear whether it causes penile cancer.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
For comprehensive information from NHS Choices detailing STIs, please click here.