Today I am sharing a wonderful guest post from my online natural parenting bloggy friend Christine of African Babies Don't Cry! Since she has a son, she is much more well versed on certain male health topics than I am and I figured we needed to mix things up a little on here today! I hope anyone with a son saves this for future reference! I honestly knew nothing at all about Balanitis and am so glad that Christine was willing to write about her experience.
My son recently suffered from a nasty case of Balanitis which frightened the heck out of me, because I of course have never experienced it and you never know how painful it is. I frantically scoured the internet searching for natural treatments and ways to quell the infection with no luck. Chatting to mommy friends didn't help either, only one of them had experienced the same with their son and they had resorted to using over the counter medication and antibiotics which I hoped to avoid. None had heard of it before with their husbands and although it is very common (affecting 1 in every 25 boys), it is not something often spoken about because of the location of the infection.
My two year old son's penis was inflamed and tender, but he was managing to urinate without pain and although it was tender he was not in agony – although he does seem to have a rather high pain threshold. I suspected a bacterial infection from touching it with grubby hands – little boys love to fiddle 😉
What is Balanitis?
Balanitis is an inflammation of the glans penis (the head, underneath the foreskin), the foreskin is often also infected as well as the shaft of the penis. It can be acute, lasting for only a short period of time, or it can be chronic lasting for several weeks, months or longer – it can also be recurrent.
During childhood and sometimes into puberty, the inner surface of the foreskin is attached to the glans. From about the age of two, the foreskin begins to naturally separate from the glans until it can be pulled back – this is a completely natural process which should not be forced. Most boys can pull back their foreskin by the age of 10, and 95 percent of boys can do this by the age of 17.
Balanitis is slightly more common in boys who haven't been circumcised, and those who are not yet able to pull back their foreskin, but circumcised boys
need to be vigilant too.
Symptoms of Balanitis:
- Red rash at the tip of the penis that may be scaly or ulcerated
- Pain, tenderness and swelling
- Itching and discomfort
- Discharge or pus from underneath the foreskin, which may smell unpleasant
- Unable to pull back the foreskin where before was possible.
- Other symptoms include a sore mouth, pain in the joints, swollen or painful glands and a general unwell feeling.
- Exposure to bacteria, yeast or fungus. Bacterial infections create a bright red
surface and glistening drainage. Yeast infections cause white spots and
- Irritant-contact Balanitis caused by contact to soap, detergents or antiseptics.
- Circumcised and
uncircumcised babies sometimes develop Balanitis when they have
- Side-effect of many medications including painkillers, sleeping tablets, laxatives and antibiotics.
- Trauma to the penis or fiddling with the foreskin can sometimes cause balanitis.
Balanitis xerotica obliterans (BXO), which is an inflammatory skin disorder affecting the foreskin, and sometimes the glans. It's rare in children under the age of five.
Common symptoms of BXO include:
- white scarring on the tip of the foreskin
- the foreskin may become tough and stiff
- pain when urinating
- unable to pull back the foreskin (if your son was able to before)
The cause of BXO is uncertain; it may be the result of a viral infection. If left untreated, it may eventually cause the urethra to narrow, making it very difficult for your son to pass urine. In adults, if BXO is left untreated, there is a five percent chance that it may turn malignant (cancerous). However, there is no evidence of this in children.
Coconut oil for Balanitis and other penile infections:
Coconut oil is high in lauric acid and caprylic acid which makes it anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal – very effective at killing off candida yeast. Apply coconut oil to the affected area 3-4 times each day. This treatment is most effective if you are also taking the oil internally – 2-3 teaspoons per day.
I found an easily way to apply it topically without having to rub it into the inflamed and sore area is to heat it in a glass bowl over hot water, draw it up into a dropper and squirt it over and into (under the foreskin, if possible) the penis. Make sure the coconut oil is warm (room or body temperature), not hot!!
This treatment immediately soothed my sons infection. After regular application in this manner the infection subsided and by the next morning it had completely cleared.
In conjunction with this, be sure to:
- Clean the infected areas at least twice a day with a weak saline solution if you think the infection is bacterial, or with a weak apple cider vinegar solution if you think the infection is yeast or fungus related.
- Taking long warm baths in both the above solutions is soothing and helpful, two or three times per day. Splash clean the area carefully and let your son pull his foreskin back as far as is possible, very gently. In young children the foreskin will retract only slightly, so don't force it.
- Epsom salts baths are a good idea too, as the magnesium in the salts help to draw out the infection, and promotes healing.
- Avoid using any soaps, bubble baths or oils or talc powders which may cause irritations.
- If you think the infection is yeast related, cut all sugar out of the diet and take a good probiotic supplement. Adding fermented foods and vegetables to his diet in the long term will help prevent recurrences.
Prevention of Balanitis and other Penile Infections:
Let your son learn good personal hygiene habits from an early age,
- Wash the outside only (like you would a finger), do not retract the foreskin for him. Only the child will know when his foreskin can be retracted without pain and trauma so the first person to retract the foreskin should be the child himself.
- Cleaning his hands often, especially before and after handling the penis – so urinating or fiddling – fiddling is normal for toddlers as they discover their body. Prevent embarrassing scenes by dressing them in dungarees when out in public 😉
- Trimming nails short and ensuring they are always clean – long nails can cause trauma to the glans whilst fiddling.
- Avoid the use of chemical soaps or cleansers, and wash with natural soaps or plain water.
When to see a GP:
- If symptoms persists for longer than 3 to 5 days.
- If the symptoms become recurrent.
- It becomes painful or difficult to urinate.
Note: If you son is intact be sure to inform your doctor that his foreskin should NOT be touched or retracted and to stay with your son at all times to protect him from a possible forced premature retraction.
Curious about what coconut oils I use and love? Find them here.
Christine is the author of African Babies Don't Cry and is passionate about helping others reach their own health and wellness vision. She blogs about natural nutrition, cloth diapering, breastfeeding and more, and is passionate about living as naturally as possibly. Based in South Africa but also offering virtual sessions, she is a health coach specialising in remineralising for optimum health and wellness with the use of Tissue Salts. She believes everyone has the ability to achieve optimum health if they dream it! Schedule a Free Consultation today!