Redness over penis

Redness over foreskin and penis is alarming and disturbing. Usually one may relate it to sexually transmitted disease but usually the common causes of redness are related to allergies and infections. These include:

  • Balanitis or infection of the glans
  • Balanoposthitis or infection of the glans and foreskin
  • Drug related reactions called Fixed Drug eruptions
  • Urethritis or inflammation of the urinary tube
  • Folliculitis
  • Dermatitis
  • Sexually transmitted infections such as Herpes

How to differentiate STD from other causes of redness ?

Even experienced clinicians may have difficulty in differentiating STDs from other causes of redness of the penis and foreskin. The usual features of STDs are:

  • History of high risk sexual contact
  • Burning in urine or discharge through the urethra
  • Multiple small ulcers over the glans and foreskin

How is redness treated ?

Treatment for redness over the penis or foreskin depends upon the cause. STDs are best treated with early detection using a course of antibiotics or antiviral medications. Infections such as posthitis (Infection of the foreskin) are treated with antibiotics and ointments. Long standing infections of the foreskin may lead to chronic scarring of the foreskin and are best treated by circumcision.

What is a STD Panel ?

An STD panel consists of a set of tests that screen the patient for possibility of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. These are blood tests and should be ordered after 3 weeks of the high risk exposure. The panel includes tests like:

  • TPHA for Syphilis
  • IgM anti HSV 1 and anti HSV 2 for Herpes
  • IgM for Chlamydia
  • PCR for Gonorrhea
  • p24 antigen assay for HIV
  • anti HIV 1 and 2 ( if exposure was more than three months ago)
  • HPV PCR Qualitative