Read below about redness at the tip of the penis, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your redness at the tip of the penis from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Redness at the Tip of the Penis Symptoms

Issues related to the genital area can be embarrassing and uncomfortable to discuss; however, genital health is an important topic as it can signal underlying health problems beyond reproductive capabilities such as ejaculation or erections. Any issues related to the penis or parts of the genitalia should be followed-up appropriately.

The penis has several components. When referring to redness at the tip of the penis, the component involved is called the glans, or head of the penis. At birth, the head of the penis is covered by foreskin, which is simply loose skin surrounding the glans. The foreskin can be preserved or removed surgically in a process called circumcision.

Both circumcised and uncircumcised individuals can experience redness at the tip of the penis — in circumcised penises the redness occurs on the glans itself, whereas in uncircumcised penises the redness may involve the foreskin as well. Redness of the glans, also known as balanitis, is a relatively common condition which affects approximately three to 11 percent of males [1,2]. It can have many different causes; fortunately, most cases of balanitis are benign and easily treatable.

Characteristics

People with balanitis often experience other symptoms in addition to the redness at the tip. Symptoms associated with balanitis may include:

Redness at the Tip of the Penis Causes Overview

Causes of balanitis are primarily inflammatory, but there are many other causes as well. Those who are uncircumcised are generally at a greater risk; however, the causes below can affect circumcised individuals as well.

Inflammatory

Inflammatory causes may be related to the following.

  • Infection: Infections of the penis including but not limited to sexually transmitted bacteria and/or viruses can result in redness and inflammation of the glans. Associated symptoms often include dysuria and genital discharge. Fungal infections of the head of the penis can also result in a similar presentation, with redness of the glans in addition to white patches on the shaft of the penis.

  • Dermatologic: Some inflammatory conditions of the skin can result in balanitis. For example, lichen sclerosus is a rare dermatologic condition that has a specific predisposition for the genital area in all genders.

  • Systemic: Systemic conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease can result in inflammation around the glans. People with advanced diabetes or kidney disease can have high concentrations of glucose in the urine (glycosuria). Since the urethra runs through the penis and exits from the glans, with urination, the excess glucose can cause irritation of around the head of the penis. This can result in balanitis in addition to a host of other symptoms.

Environmental

Proper hygiene is key in maintaining penile health, especially if you are not circumcised. Regularly cleaning underneath the foreskin with mild soap and water is very important in keeping harmful bacteria at bay. It is also important to practice good sexual hygiene. Using condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners is essential in preventing the transmission of sexually transmitted infections.

Allergens

Causes related to allergens may involve the following.

  • Irritants: In regards to hygiene, it is also very important to avoid heavily scented soaps and lotions around the genital area as they can be very irritating to the sensitive skin of that area. These products can also cause inflammation to the glans due to allergic or sensitivity reactions.
  • Medication: Some medications may cause reactions that result in inflammation or swelling of the penis. Talk to your physician about any medications you have started and possible side effects.

Cancerous

Though rare, sometimes redness of the glansmay signal penile cancer, especially if it is associated with a blister or growth that increases in size over time. Penile cancer may be associated with other symptoms such as fatigue and unexplained weight loss.

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Redness at the Tip of the Penis

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced redness at the tip of the penis. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Penile Irritation

    Irritation of the penis is common, and can come from a number of benign causes. Common causes include cleaning with a new kind of soap, cleaning too much, or chaffing.

    Symptoms should resolve within one week.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    penis itch, penile redness
    Symptoms that never occur with penile irritation:
    fever, painful urination, testicle pain
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  2. 2.Irritant Contact Dermatitis

    Contact dermatitis is a condition in which the skin becomes red, sore, or inflamed after direct contact with a substance. This condition most often affects skin of the hands, and may occur after repeated and prolonged exposure to substances such as water, detergents (soaps, bleach), solvents (such as gasoline), acids, powders, dust, and soil. The onset of the skin reaction is usually within 48 hours of coming in contact with the substance.

    1-2 days.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    rash with well-defined border, itchy rash, red or pink, rough patch of skin, painful rash, red rash
    Symptoms that always occur with irritant contact dermatitis:
    rash with well-defined border
    Symptoms that never occur with irritant contact dermatitis:
    fever, black-colored skin changes, brown-colored skin changes, blue-colored skin changes
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  3. 3.Urethritis

    Urethritis is an inflammation of the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine away from the bladder.

    Within a day or two of antibiotic treatment, symptoms usually resolve.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    painful urination, penis pain, fluid leaking, pink/blood-tinged urine, cloudy urine
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Redness at the Tip of the Penis Checker

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  4. 4.Chlamydia (Male)

    Chlamydia is a common bacterial infection that is spread by sexual contact. It can often be carried without symptoms, but can have serious health effects if left untreated.

    The infection should clear in 1-7days after treatment.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    testicle pain, sudden urgency to urinate, painful urination, frequent urination, fluid leaking
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Scabies

    Scabies is a highly contagious skin infection caused by mites that produce an itchy rash on the body.

    Rash and intense itching should subside within 2-4 days with treatment.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    vaginal itch or burning, vulvovaginal redness, feeling itchy or tingling all over, butt itch, elbow itch
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Gonococcal Urethritis

    Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a germ (bacterium) called the gonococcus. This bacterium is spread by sexual contact, or through transmission during childbirth, and causes inflammation of the urethra, which is the tube that passes urine.

    Infection takes up to a week to clear.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    painful urination, fluid leaking, spontaneous testicle pain, redness at the tip of the penis, testicular swelling
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Urinary Tract Infection

    In women, the opening to the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) is very close to the anus, and bacteria from the anus can easily escape and travel up the urethra. These bacteria can infect the bladder, and cause what is known as a urinary tract infection (UTI).

    Symptoms most often go away within 24 to 48 hours after treatment begins.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    abdominal cramps (stomach cramps), pelvis pain, sudden urgency to urinate, signs of urinary tract inflammation, urinary changes
    Symptoms that always occur with urinary tract infection:
    signs of urinary tract inflammation
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit

Redness at the Tip of the Penis Treatments and Relief

There are some preventative methods you can implement in your daily routine and lifestyle to help curb symptoms. However, if you are unable to find relief, you should consult your physician for further treatment.

Prevention

Balanitis can be prevented with simple lifestyle changes and habits including:

  • Proper hygiene: As stated above, poor hygiene can be a cause of balanitis. Properly and regularly cleaning the penis and foreskin (if present) are steps you can take at home to prevent symptoms.
  • Sexually responsible habits: Preventing sexually transmitted infections not only involves using condoms but also limiting sexual partners and getting tested regularly.
  • Proper vaccination: Genital warts and HPV are conditions that can infect and inflame the glans that are easily preventable with vaccination. If you are 26 or younger, discuss this options with your healthcare professional.

Medical treatments

Treatment for balanitis will depend on the cause and may include the following:

  • Antibiotics: Your physician will prescribe the appropriate antibiotics if your balanitis is the result of a bacterial infection such as chlamydia or gonorrhea.
  • Antifungal medication: Yeast such as candida are fungi that can be treated with topical or systemic medications that your healthcare provider can prescribe.
  • Dermatological creams: If your symptoms are caused by a dermatologic skin condition, your physician may prescribe steroid creams or ointments that can help alleviate your symptoms.
  • Circumcision: If you are an uncircumcised male who experiences recurrent episodes of balanitis, your physician may recommend circumcision. The preserved foreskin is more easily susceptible to infection and inflammation, especially if it is not properly cleaned and take care of.

Complications

Although balanitis is usually benign, getting appropriate treatment is important. Without treatment, serious complications such as phimosis, which is a condition in which the foreskin cannot be pulled away from the head of the penis due to inflammation, can result [2]. This can result in difficulty with urination which can lead to bladder infections and other complications.

FAQs About Redness at the Tip of the Penis

Here are some frequently asked questions about redness at the tip of the penis.

Can I continue to have sex while being treated for balanitis (redness at the tip of the penis)?

If you are being treated for balanitis that is NOT caused by infection, you can continue to have sex as tolerated. It is not advisable to continue sexual relations during treatment for infections as there is a high risk of transmission, even with proper condom use.

Is the redness on the tip of my penis cancer?

In very rare cases, redness on the penis or swelling may signal cancer, especially if it is associated with a growth that increases in size. You should also take note of symptoms such as changes in the color of the skin of the penis, foul-smelling discharge or bleeding, and thickening of the skin. Make sure to discuss these symptoms and follow-up with your healthcare provider if they do not resolve over time or worsen.

Is circumcision painful?

A recent study published in the Journal of Urology in 2013, surveyed 112 men about pain after adult circumcision [6]. The study found that pain is primarily moderate after circumcision with general anesthesia and penile block (which is a temporary block of sensation in the penis). Severe pain is very rare.

Is redness at the tip of the penis life-threatening?

Most causes of redness at the tip of the penis (balanitis) are benign and not life-threatening; however, that does not mean you should not follow-up your symptoms with a healthcare professional. Untreated balanitis can have medical complications such as phimosis, a condition in which the foreskin cannot be pulled away from the head of the penis due to inflammation. Phimosis can lead to urinary problems and sometimes requires surgical treatment.

Are there at-home treatments I can use to treat the redness at the tip of my penis (balanitis)?

It is important to get the appropriate diagnosis before self-treating for balanitis. There are multiple over-the-counter remedies you can use for specific causes of balanitis; for example, in the case of fungal candidiasis, there are many options such as nystatin or Monistat.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Redness at the Tip of the Penis

  • Q.Do you feel pain when you urinate?
  • Q.Are you sexually active?
  • Q.Do you have a rash?
  • Q.Do you notice anything going on with your penis?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our redness at the tip of the penis symptom checker to find out more.

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Redness at the Tip of the Penis Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced redness at the tip of the penis have also experienced:

    • 17% Painful Urination
    • 11% Penis Pain
    • 7% Itchiness at the Tip of the Penis
  • People who have experienced redness at the tip of the penis had symptoms persist for:

    • 33% Less Than a Week
    • 23% Over a Month
    • 22% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced redness at the tip of the penis were most often matched with:

    • 66% Urethritis
    • 16% Penile Irritation
    • 16% Irritant Contact Dermatitis
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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References

  1. NHS. Updated May 31, 2017. NHS Link
  2. Leber MJ. Balanitis. Medscape. Updated September 24, 2018. Medscape Link
  3. Ellsworth PI. Penis Anatomy. Medscape. Updated December 8, 2017. Medscape Link
  4. Penis Health: Identify and Prevent Problems. Mayo Clinic. Published April 8, 2016. Mayo Clinic Link
  5. Rai BP, Qureshi A, Kadi N, Donat R. How Painful is Adult Circumcision? A Prospective, Observational Cohort Study. The Journal of Urology. 2013;189(6):2237-2242. NCBI Link