Balanitis xerotica obliterans : A guide to Circumcision

This rare but serious skin condition develops in the foreskin and glans and is also a contributing cause of phimosis. It affects both boys and men although some claim that it is more likely to appear in middle aged men.

Symptoms of balanitis xerotica obliterans

White lesions form on both the glans and foreskin which cause these two to harden and thicken. These lesions are often sensitive and in some cases, are prone to bleeding.

A hard, white ring of tissue often forms on the glans which prevents the foreskin from retracting.

Other symptoms include:

  • Soreness
  • Itching
  • Pain during urination
  • Difficulty in passing urine
  • Pain during erection

Causes of balanitis xerotica obliterans

Experts are unsure about the exact cause of this condition but they have identified a few possible triggers which include:

  • Genetic factor
  • Hormonal changes
  • Autoimmune disorder
  • Dermatological (skin) disorder
  • Bacterial infection

This condition is less likely to occur in circumcised boys and men although it can develop in men who have undergone circumcision later on in their lives.

Treatment for balanitis xerotica obliterans

This is designed to stop further progression of this condition. It can include antibiotics, steroid creams and laser therapy but circumcision has been found to be one of the most effective forms of treatment.

In very severe cases a glansectomy (removal of the head of the penis) may be needed.

Complications of balanitis xerotica obliterans

This is a chronic condition which can cause serious, long term consequences if left untreated. Failure to do so may result in urine retention which can lead to kidney or bladder damage.

It can lead to phimosis or paraphimosis.

Some studies suggest that it may be a contributing factor in penile cancer.


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