Men who are affected by unusual spots, penis pain, thickening of the penis skin, and phimosis – the inability to retract the foreskin – may be affected by a condition known as balanitis xerotica obliterans. While this condition is not generally serious, it can get worse without treatment and may lead to more serious complications. Not all doctors are familiar with this condition, so men who experience the related symptoms should be familiar with the disorder so that they can help their doctors understand what to look for.
Following is a brief overview of balanitis xerotica obliterans, as well as the available treatments and some tips to proper penis care.
What is balanitis xerotica obliterans?
Commonly abbreviated as BXO, this condition is considered as the male manifestation of lichen sclerosis, a benign condition that affects the skin. While the symptoms are not confined to the penis, they can be most worrying in this area, as they can cause some uncomfortable side effects.
To date, no definitive cause has been identified. However, there appears to be a hereditary component, and men who suffer from BXO are also likely to experience other autoimmune type conditions. While BXO may appear unattractive and cause issues with sex, the condition is not contagious and cannot be passed to a partner, either through sexual contact or otherwise.
Common Symptoms of BXO
The most common symptoms of BXO include white patches on the glans penis, as well as under the foreskin; a thickened ring of tissue may also form around the tip of the glans, and penis pain may also occur. Adhesions of the foreskin to the glans may also occur and lead to phimosis, a condition in which it is difficult or impossible to retract the foreskin over the crown of the penis. Erectile issues may also accompany these symptoms.
In more advanced stages, the white or grayish patches may reach the shaft, and even the scrotum. Scrubbing or otherwise attempting to move the lesions is not effective and may cause further damage to the skin.
If allowed to progress without treatment, the toughened tissue that characterizes BXO can lead to urinary stricture, blocking the elimination of urine and increasing the risk of liver and kidney damage. In addition, BXO has been linked to increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma (a form of skin cancer), although it is unclear whether the condition is causative.
Is there a cure?
Currently, there is no single cure that has demonstrated consistency in treating and curing BXO. The first step in treating the disorder generally involves topical steroid creams. While these may alleviate some of the symptoms, they are not effective for curing the disease and may cause further damage to the skin if used for a lengthy period of time.
The most effective method of addressing the problem generally involves circumcision. Removing the foreskin can eliminate the lesions and prevent them from recurring, as the urine-rich, moist environment created by the presence of the foreskin is removed. For lesions on the shaft or scrotum, laser therapy or surgical excision may be recommended.
Penis care for all men
While BXO has not been linked to hygiene issues or other aspects of penis care, all men can benefit from treating the penis right. The pelvic area should always be kept clean, using a mild cleanser to gently wash away any dirt, sweat, urine and other body fluids. Wearing underwear is always recommended to prevent rubbing and chafing, as well as to reduce the risk of injury.
While BXO is not contagious, all men who are sexually active should use a condom for every encounter, unless they are in a monogamous relationship where both partners have tested clean for any sexually transmitted diseases.
Adding a high-quality penis vitamin cream (most health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil) to the daily penis care regimen can improve the overall tone, texture and elasticity of the penis skin, as well as improving sensation levels in some men. While penis creams should not be applied to damaged or diseased penile tissue without a doctor’s approval, even the most healthy penis can benefit from natural moisturizers and male-friendly nutrients.