Balanitis in babies

by |

Worried that your baby boy’s swollen penis could be something serious? Take a breath – it could just be balanitis, which displays clear symptoms and is easy to treat

It’s not uncommon for your little man to have quite a few penis problems in his first year of life and balanitis is one condition that may appear.

It can be really sore and irritable for your baby but with a few simple steps he’ll be back to normal in no time.

What is balanitis?

It’s an infection that occurs in boys causing swelling in the head of the penis.  Sometimes, the foreskin (the loose flap of skin that covers the head of the penis) can also be affected.

When can it occur?

You can tell your partner to stop freaking out about his own private parts – balanitis is far more common in young children than anyone else.

‘Although balanitis can occur at any age, NHS Choices estimate that one in 20 boys under the age of five are affected by the condition,’ says Professor Mitch Blair, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

What causes it?

Thrush and nappy rash are the two common offenders.

Balanitis can also be caused by a bacterial infection or a fungal infection, such as thrush

‘In babies, balanitis can develop because of nappy rash, caused by dampness from the urine in his nappy, so it’s important to change him frequently,’ says Professor Blair. ‘In toddlers who are potty trained, soreness can occur if the final drips of urine are not shaken off properly at the end of urination,’ he adds.

Balanitis can also be caused by a bacterial infection or a fungal infection, such as thrush.


What symptoms are there?

You may notice some soreness and swelling of your baby’s penis, red skin and he may also show signs of pain when he’s having a wee.

‘The pain and inflammation are sometimes accompanied by a slight discharge and the foreskin may have tightened, causing your baby more irritation,’ explains Professor Blair.


How is it treated?

There are lots of at-home methods you can use to rid your baby of the infection.

Try gently bathing him in warm water and mild soap, change his nappy as soon as it’s wet and let him go nappy free for as long as possible, to air everything out.  You can also apply petroleum jelly to his penis, which will act as a barrier against further infection.

‘If your baby’s penis remains sore, or if there’s any discharge, you should see your GP,’ advises Professor Blair. ‘In this case, your baby may be prescribed some antibiotic cream to treat the infection.’


Can it lead to anything more serious?

Babies who keeping getting balanitis may develop phimosis, a condition which tightens the foreskin around the end of the penis.  This makes it really tricky for your baby to wee and the foreskin may ‘balloon’ when he does.

In severe cases, your GP may suggest a circumcision to fix the problem. If your baby or toddler has balanitis frequently, make sure to tell you GP.

Has your baby had balantitis? How did you help ease the symptoms? Let us know in the comments box below.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us