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Balanitis in Children: Care Instructions


Balanitis is inflammation of the head of the penis. It can make the penis painful, red, swollen, and itchy. Balanitis is usually more common if the penis has not been circumcised. But until a child is toilet-trained, balanitis is more common in circumcised babies. This is because wearing diapers allows direct contact between the head of the penis and stool (feces). Stool contains germs that can cause balanitis.

Balanitis can also be caused by chemicals in soaps. It can also happen from a zipper injury or by forcing back the foreskin in an uncircumcised child. Having a diaper rash or taking antibiotics can also increase your child's risk.

Your child's doctor may suggest a cream to put on the skin that usually clears up the problem within 2 weeks. You can prevent this problem by keeping your child's penis clean. You also can help prevent it by not using products that cause irritation.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. If your doctor prescribed a skin cream or ointment, use it as directed.
  • Keep your child's penis clean. If your child has not been circumcised and the foreskin pulls back easily, gently pull it back to wash the penis. Don't force the skin back if it doesn't pull back easily. Use warm water. Make sure the penis is dry before your child gets dressed.
  • Wash your child's underwear with mild soap. Rinse it well.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has signs of a new or worse infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.
  • Your child is having trouble urinating.
  • Your child is uncircumcised and had been able to pull back their foreskin. But now their foreskin is stuck behind the head of the penis and can't be returned to its normal position over the head of the penis.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if your child has any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.