Balanitis affects approximately 1 in every 25 boys and 1 in every 30 uncircumcised males. Generally, the high risk groups are boys under the age of 4 and uncircumcised males.
Since balanitis presents with general symptoms of redness of the glans penis, itchiness or soreness, it is very likely that the patients may interpret the condition as something as uncomplicated as a skin rash or cold or headache that if ignored or left unattended may go just away on its own. But this is not true. Not doing anything at all, or worse, doing the wrong thing to manage balanitis may not only cause permanent damage to the penile organ but also cause long term complications like penile cancer that may further lead to a complete loss of the organ.
The dire consequences of ignoring the disease are also highlighted below in an attempt to make the sufferers understand how important it is to take notice and reach out for medical help as soon as the symptoms appear.
Why balanitis should not be ignored
Though balanitis is a condition that involves the surface on the penile skin, it is nothing like a simple uncomplicated skin infection.
The fact that this discomfort at the most sensitive area on a man’s skin has the potential to reappear it becomes a nightmare for the person who contacts this infection for the first time.
The patient is most likely to experience repeated attacks that are more and more frequent after every time. The symptoms also tend to increase in severity at each flareup. Increasing discomfort, increased redness and swelling are characteristics of repeated infection. Isn’t that good enough a reason to not overlook the symptoms the first time they appear?
The uniqueness of this condition still lies with the fact that the fundamental membrane forming that structure of the penis is fragile. This is an inflammation on the surface of that delicate part of the body that is exposed to the outside world without any protective layer covering it like the rest of the body. This part of the man’s body is devoid of the tough skin that is found on other parts of the body. This microscopic anatomy and the fragility of the membrane make it an extremely vulnerable structure whose even least harmful pathology can lead to an appalling complication. Therefore, a disease of the penile organ can never and should never be ignored.
Down below we enlist 7 reasons to argue why you should not ignore balanitis and how it could become a lifelong problem. This list presents reasons that are good enough to convince you to never neglect any symptoms of balanitis and seek medical help whenever any of the symptoms are felt.
1. Once the infection has occurred, the penile pH does not remain on its normal physiological level.
The pH starts to derange as the pathophysiology develops and once the penile pH is disturbed it can take months for it to return to normal.
2. Our body generally has poor protective and defensive mechanisms against infections caused by fungal organisms.
So if you contact a fungal type of balanitis infection it is very much likely that it will not go away on its own and you need to treat it with a proper antifungal in the shape of antifungal cream to get rid of it.
3. Bacteria rapidly multiply under warm and humid conditions under the foreskin.
If your balanitis infection has a bacterial etiology, the treatment needs to be aggressive and solely aimed at getting rid of the harmful infectious bacteria with medication because the body has failed to get it out on its own.
Antibiotics based on the type of bacteria that has caused balanitis may be prescribed to manage the disease.
4. If the surface of the glans penis has been breached and erosion has developed on the surface, there is an urgent need to protect it by physically covering it with a protective shield.
This should be done not only to stop the erosion from growing but also to prevent the erosion from getting infected any further. Further infection leads to a deeper level of breach in the continuity of the skin.
Does this sound like a simpler condition that has worsened and turned into something that is harder to deal with? Because it is…
5. The penis can also undergo scarring, also known as phimosis.
This is one of the most common complications. Phimosis is a dangerous condition because it is an abnormal constriction in the opening at the foreskin that causes retraction of the glans. The recurrent and untreated infection of the glans results in this retraction of the foreskin.
This retraction results in difficulty in voiding, discomfort during sexual contact and it as well as ruins the overall hygiene of the pubic area. The urethral strictures resulting from scarring can even lead to retention of the urine back in the bladder causing slow but irreversible damage to the kidneys.
The urine keeps on accumulating in the bladder until it is full and the urine starts to flow back towards the kidneys. This backflow of the urine towards the kidneys is also called vesicoureteral reflux that causes pathological damage to the kidneys.
6. Recurrent balanitis is a feature of this disease and chronic recurrent balanitis can also be caused by Balanitis Xerotica Obliterans (BXO).
BXO is a destructive condition that may have an unclear etiology but it is related with hardening of the skin of the penis and changing color to white.
BXO is the known primary cause of squamous cell carcinoma of the penis which makes it extremely important to not only recognize this disease as early as possible but also treat it promptly before carcinoma takes its toll a surgical intervention is the ultimate solution.
7. Being an infection of a delicate area, balanitis comes with a recognizable level of psychological disturbance.
The symptoms of this condition are known to cause a significant amount of discomfort to the sufferer, directly affecting their quality of life. Once someone contacts this disease their mind is constantly filled with mixed emotions of worry and fear.
These emotions bud from an understanding that in the long run, this condition can lead to full-blown penile cancer.
Another gnawing factor that disturbs the mental peace of the patient is that his sex life is fully disturbed. Since balanitis can be contagious, the sufferers are usually encouraged to avoid any sexual activity to prevent the disease from spreading to their partners.
Sexual contact is also avoided because it can result in chafing or inflaming the already infected part of the skin and cause further damage to it. This is a huge ordeal for the sufferer and his partner which is bound to result in psychological stress and depression.
In order to prevent this psychological impact from becoming irrevocable, prompt action must be taken to treat the infection. This gives the patient the peace of mind and the satisfaction that he is taking every possible measure to not only treat the disease but also prevent any permanent damage from occurring. Eventually, this also adds up to his overall mental as well as physical health.
Balanitis may also lead to cellulitis.
Cellulitis is an infection that occurs in the deeper layers of the skin. This is a more serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Buried penis syndrome is another complication that may develop as a result of persistent infection. This affects the boys and adult men where even though the penis is of normal size it remains hidden under the skin of abdomen, thigh or scrotum.
Another dreadful complication that may result from chronic recurrent balanitis is paraphimosis.
Paraphimosis is a urological emergency where the foreskin becomes trapped behind the glans penis.
The scarred foreskin that has become constricted comes to lie in front of the glans penis. This constricting band that forms limits the blood supply, especially the venous supply, as well as the lymphatic drainage of the penile organ with arterial supply remaining intact.
This condition develops over the course of minutes to hours leading to an increase in the size of the penis as well as causing extreme agony and discomfort. As mentioned above, this is a urological emergency that requires immediate management by urologists who work to reduce the paraphimosis.
There you have it…
A condition like balanitis may not be pushed aside or taken lightly just because the initial symptoms are of mild discomfort caused by redness or tenderness. Because of the chronicity and recurrent properties of this disease and also considering all the complications that a sufferer can develop by ignoring balanitis, it is safer to promptly manage this disease.
The management should be aimed at treating balanitis with regard to the underlying cause and also learning ways to prevent the disease from developing again. The patient should give the right amount of attention that this condition needs while the damage can still be controlled and treated using proper medication. It is more favorable that balanitis is dealt with before any complications develop and cause further irreversible and upsetting damage.
The lesson: An effective regimen and the right understanding of the preventive measures to be taken for the disease from recurring results in a penile organ that is out of any danger and further harm. After all, it is always smarter to nip the evil while still in the bud.
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