Treating Infection of the penis, foreskin


April 05, 2016

Dear Readers,

Der. W is a young diabetic who has recently been seeing a "gummy" discharge on his penis. The penile skin has become tight and he is unable to retract the penile foreskin. Because of this, he is unable to participate in sex. He wonders what has happened and asks for a remedy. He is 19 years old and is missing his sex life! He says that going without sex for a 19-year-old male means multiple masturbation occasions!

Participating in sexual activities is hopefully always by "choice". We can always say no and for the individual with a high libido, masturbation is a practical option and a viable alternative to sex! Sex just to "scratch an itch" - because of an urge - can lead to many harmful outcomes. One is infection, others are unwanted pregnancy, problems with committing to a monogamous relationship later in life, erectile dysfunction, partner dissatisfaction, and failed relationships. Studies show that a committed relationship will always enhance the sexual experience.

The gummy discharge that Der. W is seeing on his penis is most likely caused by an infection. A penile discharge is known as a urethritis, and with Der. W as this has not been treated, the infection may well have spread to the penile foreskin, causing an infection known as a balanitis (penile foreskin infection). When a foreskin infection goes untreated, the skin can swell and become a tight constriction, which in the uncircumcised man can prevent retraction (pulling back) of the penile foreskin (phimosis).


Diabetic men are more prone to balanitis than the regular male population as their defence against infection is relatively compromised. When the blood sugar is not well controlled, the high blood and tissue glucose levels make these men highly susceptible to penile foreskin infections. The high sugar also contributes to poor healing.

Poor genital hygiene in an uncircumcised male can also contribute to a gummy discharge and balanitis. Other causes of a swollen penile foreskin include allergic reactions to soaps, sprays, creams, and condoms. Literally any substance with which the genital tissues come into contact will cause an allergic reaction in some people.


When sexually transmitted infections occur in uncircumcised men, they commonly result in a penile discharge with foreskin swelling (balanitis).

Genital candida infections occur mainly in women but can also occur in men, resulting in an inflammation of the penis and foreskin. Risk factors for contracting a candida infection to the penis and foreskin would include use of antibiotics, corticosteroids, immunosuppression, poor hygiene, using harsh cleansing substances on the penis, and diabetes. Symptoms include an itchy rash, swelling of the penile head, a lumpy discharge under the foreskin, and sometimes, pain with sex. Genital candida infection is not considered to be an STI.


When there is significant swelling the entire foreskin a bacterial infective source must be considered.

Antibiotic or antifungal treatment will need to be taken orally and applied topically depending on the causative agent. As Der. W is diabetic and is also usually highly sexually active, it is very likely that he will need antibiotic and antifungal treatment. He may also require tighter control of his blood sugar levels! He should visit his family doctor or nearest clinic for examination, treatment, and a screening for sexually transmitted infections.

For men who notice this problem recurring:

• Wash the genitalia well

• Dry off well after washing

• Use unscented soaps

• Retract the penile foreskin daily and wash it

Over-the-counter antifungal creams and antibiotic creams and ointments can be applied as directed as long as the balanitis is not accompanied with a penile discharge

All penile discharges and balanitis that are unresponsive to topical over-the-counter treatment will require a doctor's visit for examination and treatment with oral medication.

Where the condition recurs frequently, circumcision is an option.

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