What Is Balanitis in Children and How to Cure It?

August 15, 2019
Proper hygiene in the genital area could prevent the appearance of balanitis in children. This infection is usually not serious, but if it isn't treated in time there could be complications.

Balanitis in children is a very common infection in boys who haven’t been circumcised. It produces an inflammation in the penis (specifically in the foreskin and glans). It appears as a result of poor hygiene of the area, although it isn’t usually a serious problem.

We’re going to tell you what can cause the onset of this infection, and everything you need to know about how to provide an effective solution in a short time.

What is balanitis in children?

From the first year of age, the internal separation of the foreskin and the glans occurs. If this separation doesn’t occur, then it’ll be difficult to keep this area clean. This will favor the accumulation of bacteria.

Balanitis is an infection whose main symptom is the inflammation of the tip of the foreskin or glans. As well as the inflammation, there is also evidence of redness in the area (and even rashes). This makes it sensitive to rubbing and causes painful urination. It can also produce fever and a bad smell.

It usually happens due to poor hygiene in the genital area. Since young children are always in a hurry to urinate, they’re not usually too concerned about cleaning or drying themselves afterwards. This causes secretions to accumulate between the penis and the foreskin. As a result, an ideal environment is created for microorganisms to invade.

At first glance, you can observe the accumulation of pus inside the glans. This is what causes the burning sensation, and pain when urinating. Occasionally, superficial rashes or sores can also occur.

Apart from the inflammation of the penis, balanitis in children could also put pressure on the urethra. This is the conduit that allows urine to pass from the bladder (until it is expelled through the penis), and that’s why urination can be painful.

What is Balanitis in Children and How to Cure It?

We should point out that balanitis in boys is even more common in those who have a more fully-closed foreskin, as this condition makes it harder to retract it to wash it correctly.

It’s essential that parents supervise their children when they clean. You’ll need to make sure they’re doing it correctly.

The causes of balanitis in children

  • Injuries to the penis
  • Skin diseases or inflammation
  • Diabetes (when blood glucose is uncontrolled)
  • The use of irritating products: soap, body wash or laundry soap
  • Other contributing factors may be heat, irregular underwear, diaper changes, lack of genital hygiene (as we’ve mentioned) or even the use of a soap that isn’t recommended for cleaning the genital area.

Treatment

To treat balanitis, the first thing is to go to the pediatrician. The specialist may prescribe antibiotics, or antifungal or steroid creams, depending on the cause of the infection. They’ll also tell you only to wash with neutral soaps. In some cases they may recommend that the penis should be cleaned with a saline solution, at least twice a day, and to apply an antibiotic cream.

Since it isn’t a serious infection in the vast majority of cases, once the treatment has started, the inflammation should subside within a few days. It’s very important to maintain proper hygiene so that the problem doesn’t repeat itself again.

Only in the most extreme cases, where the inflammation doesn’t go down, or where the infection recurs, may the doctor suggest surgery to separate the foreskin. This intervention can be done after 2 days of birth.

Cleaning habits in children

General recommendations

Finally, here is some advice for the treatment of balanitis in children:

  • Keep a strict cleaning routine with neutral soaps and (if prescribed) antibiotic creams.
  • Dress the children in clean clothes, or, if they dress themselves, don’t let them put on dirty or wet clothes (especially in the genital area).
  • Medical supervision. The pediatrician could schedule several appointments to see how the treatment is working, and then recommend when to stop it.

Balanitis in children isn’t usually a serious problem, but it is important to take all necessary measures to prevent it, as it can cause them a lot of discomfort. As the saying goes: “Prevention is the best medicine.”

  • Bigelli, J. C. P. Balanitis, epididimitis en el adulto y en jóvenes
  • Chaine, B., & Janier, M. (2014). Diagnóstico y tratamiento de las balanitis. EMC-Urología, 46(4), 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1761-3310(14)68977-5
  • Gracia Romero J, González Ruiz Y. El pediatra ante los procesos más frecuentes de Urología pediátrica. En: AEPap (ed.). Curso de Actualización Pediatría 2017. Madrid: Lúa Ediciones 3.0; 2017. p. 183-94.