Penile Burning Sensation

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What is penile burning sensation?

Penile burning sensation is a feeling of burning, redness, warmth or swelling in the genitals, particularly in the penis. The sensation can be accompanied by blisters, pain, bloody or pink-colored urine (hematuria), itching, peeling, rash, scabbing, or swelling. Penile burning sensation can be extremely uncomfortable and create difficulty with urination, sexual relations, and daily activities. In addition to symptoms in and around your penis, it can be accompanied by generalized symptoms, such as flu-like symptoms (fatigue, fever, sore throat, headache, cough, aches and pains) and poor health in general.

Urethritis is the medical terms for inflammation of the urethra, which is a common cause of penile burning sensation. Cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) or prostatitis (prostate inflammation) can also be associated with a burning sensation in the genitals. Sexually transmitted diseases are examples of infections that can cause penile burning sensation. These diseases include herpes, genital warts (human papillomavirus infection), syphilis (sexually transmitted disease caused by bacteria), chlamydia, or gonorrhea.

Men who are uncircumcised (who have the foreskin remaining around the penis) are prone to balanitis, an inflammation of the foreskin most commonly caused by poor hygiene, but which may also be due to infection or irritants.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you experience a prolonged, painful erection, the sudden onset of severe testicular pain, if you have redness and tenderness spreading throughout the groin, or if you develop sudden deformity of the penis accompanied by severe pain.

What other symptoms might occur with penile burning sensation?

Penile burning sensation may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Genitourinary symptoms that may occur along with penile burning sensation

Penile burning sensation may accompany other symptoms that affect the genitourinary system including:

Other symptoms that may occur along with penile burning sensation

Penile burning sensation may accompany symptoms that are related to other body systems including:

Symptoms that might indicate a serious condition

In some cases, penile burning sensation may occur with other symptoms that might indicate a serious condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care if you, or someone you are with, have penile burning sensation along with other serious symptoms including:

  • High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Inability to urinate
  • Redness and tenderness spreading throughout the groin
  • Sudden deformity of the penis after trauma
  • Sudden testicular pain

What causes penile burning sensation?

Penile burning sensation can have a number of different causes. Evaluating other symptoms that may occur concurrently can help a health care practitioner identify the cause.

Sexually transmitted diseases are one cause of these symptoms. The symptoms can also be attributed to infections or inflammation of the bladder or prostate.

Men who are uncircumcised (who have the foreskin remaining around the penis) are prone to balanitis, an inflammation of the foreskin.

Sexually transmitted causes of penile burning sensation

Penile burning sensation may also be caused by sexually transmitted infections including:

  • Chlamydia
  • Genital warts (human papillomavirus, or HPV, infection)
  • Gonorrhea
  • Herpes
  • Trichomonas vaginalis (parasitic infection)

Other causes of penile burning sensation

Penile burning sensation can also be caused by the following:

  • Allergies

  • Balanitis (inflammation of the foreskin)

  • Contact with irritants such as soap or detergents

  • Dermatitis

  • Diabetes (chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to use sugar for energy)

  • Lichen sclerosis et atrophicus (chronic inflammatory skin condition)

Serious or life-threatening causes of penile burning sensation

In some cases, penile burning sensation may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. These conditions include:

  • Fournier’s gangrene (severe spreading infection of the genital area)
  • Penile fracture
  • Priapism (persistent erection)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of penile burning sensation

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your penile burning sensation including:

  • How long have you felt the burning sensation?

  • Does it hurt to urinate or ejaculate?

  • Have you experienced this before?

  • Have you noticed a rash or discoloration around your genitals?

  • Do you have any other symptoms, such as discharge or itching?

  • Have you started using any new detergents or soaps?

  • Are you sexually active? Are you having unprotected sex, or do you have multiple partners?

  • What medications are you taking?

What are the potential complications of penile burning sensation?

Because penile burning sensation can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Infertility
  • Scarring and narrowing of the opening of the penis
  • Spread of infection
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Jan 6
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