The 3 stages of balanitis damage
Balanitis usually follows a predictable path from the time you have your first flare-up right through to your next relapse (and every flare-up after that). Uncovering this path will give you a clear picture of what is really happening during balanitis and help you decide on the best way to treat it.
With each step, balanitis gains more ground by making your glans tissue more vulnerable to damage. The only way to permanently cure your balanitis is to understand what happens during each step and interrupt it effectively.
For balanitis to occur, there has to be an initial trigger that gets the inflammation going. Typically there are 3 main types of triggers for balanitis:
Regardless of what the initial trigger for your balanitis, the end result is always an immune system response which opens the door to the next step - the domino effect.
Once the trigger has activated an immune system attack on your glans, a domino effect is set in motion that begins to take away your penile tissue's defense mechanisms one-by-one.
What are these defense mechanisms that are affected by the immune system attack?
Even though our glans lacks a protective outer surface (like normal skin), our body makes up for this vulnerability by arming it with 4 defensive barriers:
These 4 barriers work together to shield our glans from potential threats, however for these barriers to be beneficial, they need to be maintained within narrow ranges. For example, too much moisture on the glans surface can lead to harmful bacterial growth or too low of a pH can in itself harm our sensitive penile tissue.
When a trigger activates the domino effect, the inflammation it causes interferes with these defensive barriers and throws our entire penile physiology off-balance.
The loss of any single one of these defense barriers is enough to disrupt all the other remaining barriers - thus the domino effect.
For example, an increase in surface pH1 can lead to an increase in harmful bacteria2 which in-turn can lead to inflammatory changes that strip away the moisture barrier3 and eliminate surface fluids that contain lysozyme4.
It doesn't matter what tips the first domino (barrier), the resulting effect is the progressive failure of all our glans' defense mechanisms.
Bear in mind, once the domino effect is in progress, you no longer need the initial trigger to keep your balanitis going. This brings us to the next step in the balanitis chain of events...
It would have been bad enough if a trigger was able to damage your glans tissue by simply eliminating your penile defenses through the domino effect. The inflammation from such a process would have been enough to cause severe penile tissue damage by itself.
However, the progression of balanitis involves one final step that escalates its capacity for damage to a whole new level. What happens next is the true reason why balanitis is such a painful, chronic and difficult to treat condition.
As the domino effect begins to dismantle the defensive barriers of your glans, your penile tissue becomes
more vulnerable to the trigger. As a result, it becomes easier for the same trigger to restart the
process of inflammation and domino effect all over again, but this time with greater intensity.
This last fact is so simple that its significance is easy to miss, yet it is the single most important reason why balanitis is so damaging.
Yes, the end result of the domino effect is that the damage repeats itself over and over again, except each time your trigger becomes stronger and your glans tissue becomes weaker.
This shows the devious relationship between the trigger and the domino effect where one feeds into the other and your penile tissue spirals into an endless cycle of injury.
Simply put, during the cycle of damage...
Even worse is that with each turn of the cycle your balanitis grows worse.
As the cumulative tissue damage increases, the problem begins to slowly get out of hand. At first the problem remains focused on your glans tissue. Then the scope of the damage widens to affect your urinary and sexual functions. Eventually the problem extends beyond the penis and can involve other organs. At its worst, this continuous cycle of damage can cause lasting changes on a genetic level which can even turn cells cancerous.
Note how at each step, the damage is amplified and our glans tissue falls deeper into a vicious cycle. This shows why a wait-and-see approach is so dangerous when it comes to balanitis. The longer you wait, the more the condition spirals out of control and the more defenseless your glans tissue becomes to potential irritants.
The key to overcoming balanitis is to target these destructive forces at all three levels (the trigger, the domino effect, the cycle of damage) and return the glans to a point where it can defend itself on its own. This is where most balanitis treatments completely miss the mark.
Let's take a closer look at why common balanitis treatments aren't very effective at interrupting the progression of balanitis...