A red penis that is sore, itchy or inflamed can be a sign of an underlying health problem. This article describes some common conditions that are characterized by red penile skin, as well as tips to promote healing.

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Causes of Red Penis Skin

Balanitis

Balanitis is an inflammation of the penis head and the foreskin that mainly affects uncircumcised men. It typically develops when dead skin cells and body oils form a pasty buildup under the foreskin. This substance, known as smegma, creates a haven for bacteria that attack the sensitive tissue, leading to redness, swelling, pain, skin that feels warm or hot to the touch, peeling, and/or a whitish, pasty discharge.

Recommended treatment:

  • See a doctor, especially if it is the first time you have these symptoms. A quick exam can rule out any other conditions, such as yeast infection. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics to clear up any bacterial infection, and a steroid crème may be used for swelling.
  • Use a gentle cleanser to wash the area thoroughly at least once a day. Any buildup of smegma should be removed.
  • Apply a cool compress to relieve the pain and swelling of red penis skin. Never apply ice or frozen gel packs directly to the penile skin.
  • Abstain from sexual activity and masturbation until the symptoms disappear.

Jock Itch

This condition is caused by a fungus known as Tinea cruris, which also causes athlete’s foot. Jock itch occurs in warm, moist areas of the body such as the groin. It typically appears as a red, spreading rash with a distinctive, bumpy outline, and it may be extremely itchy.

Recommended treatment:

  • Use an over-the-counter anti-fungal crème designed for athlete’s foot or jock itch to clear up the infection.
  • Avoid sharing clothing, towels, razors or other personal items, as these can easily spread the infection from one person to another.
  • Wear breathable cotton underwear or boxers to allow air to circulate more freely and keep the area dry.
  • Use a penis-friendly moisturizer with natural emollients like Shea butter and vitamin E, which can soothe itchy, dry skin and support healing.

Latex Allergy

Men who are allergic to latex may experience burning, itching and redness after using latex condoms. In severe cases, respiratory symptoms may also appear.

Recommended treatment:

  • Discontinue use of latex products immediately, because symptoms can worsen on repeated exposure.
  • Use non-latex condoms – polyurethane is generally a safe option.
  • Get immediate medical attention for any respiratory symptoms.
  • Use a penis-friendly moisturizing crème to relieve irritated skin.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Many sexually transmitted diseases can cause symptoms such as rash, blisters, and reddened, shiny or flaky penile skin. These may include chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, genital warts and syphilis.

Men who are sexually active should be tested for STIs every 6 months. Their partners should be tested regularly, as well.

Recommended treatment:

  • Anyone who suspects they may have an STI should avoid all sexual contact and see a doctor right away. Many STIs can be cured if they are caught early on, using antibiotics or other medications. Other conditions, such as genital herpes, are not curable and require ongoing treatment.
  • A moisturzing penis crème such as Man1 Man Oil may be used to relieve dry, itchy, flaky skin caused by some STIs. However, men with herpes should NOT use Man1 or other crèmes containing L arginine, as this can trigger or increase the severity of a breakout.

Cancer

Penile cancer is extremely rare, but all men should be aware of the symptoms and perform regular self-exams. Cancer may present as red or blue-brown lumps or growths on the penis.

Recommended treatment:

  • See a doctor for any unusual growths, spots, or lesions. Early detection means better chances for a complete cure.

Overuse

Often, a red penis is simply the result of prolonged or aggressive sexual activity, which can cause chafing and soreness. In most cases, the symptoms will fade within 2-24 hours.

Recommended treatment:

  • Abstain from all sexual activity, including masturbation, until the symptoms disappear.
  • Apply a cool compress to the area — a wet washcloth works well. But never use ice or frozen gel packs directly on the skin!
  • Use a personal lubricant for both partner sex and solo play to reduce the risk of recurrence.
  • Use a penis health crème daily to speed healing and reduce discoloration.