The skin is the body’s first line of defense against all sorts of external invaders. It works to protect the more delicate systems inside against irritants and toxins of all kinds. Coming in contact with environmental irritants can result in itchy, spreading rashes, swelling or even blisters and pain. Unfortunately, no part of the body is exempt from these problems, no matter how well covered up, and in the summer, when less of the body is covered up, even the penis can come in contact with substances that can cause a penis rash, itching, swelling and burning.
In many cases, the damage can be minimized by prompt and appropriate treatment, and daily attention to penis care can help keep the penile skin soft, supple and attractive, as well as more resistant to infection. The first step to dealing with a swollen, itchy penis is identifying the cause of the irritation. Some of the top offenders are described here:
1. Latex – While latex condoms are arguably the best protection against sexually transmitted diseases, a significant percentage of men (and women) are highly sensitive to this material. Men who develop a rash, itching, swelling or redness following use of a condom should seek alternative materials. Individuals who develop difficulty breathing or swallowing following exposure to latex should seek emergency medical attention.
2. Clothing – Abrasive materials, as well as dyes and other chemicals used in processing fabrics, can cause the penis skin to become red, irritated and itchy. Men who have sensitive skin or who encounter these issues should avoid synthetic fabrics and stick to natural materials such as cotton, especially when it comes to undergarments.
3. Soap and laundry detergent– While soaps and detergents can leave a clean, fresh scent, they are often manufactured with drying chemicals that leech the natural oils from the skin, leaving it feeling rough, tender and itchy. Men who experience rashes or other evidence of irritation may consider using a cleanser that does not contain soap.
4. Sunscreen – Covering the body with sunscreen – yes, even the penis – is critical, especially during the summer, when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. However, not all sunscreens are made alike, and some may contain chemicals which can cause irritation. PABA, a substance often found in sunscreen, often causes issues in individuals with sensitive skin; men who encounter problems can try a PABA-free sunscreen as an alternative.
5. Heat – Heat rash typically occurs during hot weather. When the pores of the skin become blocked by dirt, dead skin cells and other substances, sweat cannot exit the pores properly, leading to a red, swollen, itchy rash. Keeping the skin clean and dry and wearing breathable clothing can help to reduce the occurrence of heat rash.
6. Hair removal – More and more men are turning to “manscaping” to keep their pelvic region neat, clean and appealing. However, hair removal techniques such as shaving can leave their mark, often in the form of razor burn. Ingrown hairs may also develop, forming a red, raised, uncomfortable rash. Shaving with a new, sharp razor or turning to professional hair removal specialists can help to eliminate these problems.
How to soothe an itchy penis rash and promote healing
Any time skin irritation develops, it is important to note the cause, keeping in mind any possible irritants that may have been encountered. If the penile skin has come in contact with latex, toxic plant materials, chemical irritants or a known allergen, it is important to rinse the area thoroughly with lukewarm water to rinse away any traces of the material. Scrubbing is a bad idea, because it can create tiny tears in the skin’s surface that will allow the material to penetrate more deeply, causing further problems.
For a sunburn, or to ease a swollen, itchy penis, applying cool compresses is recommended. While antihistamine ointments or hydrocortisone can often be effective in soothing a penis rash, men are urged to talk to a doctor before applying any creams or ointments to compromised skin – especially if open sores, blisters and/or swelling occur.
Once the rash has subsided, attention to daily penis care is recommended. To keep the skin well-hydrated and smooth, and to help maintain its natural elasticity, a quality penis health creme (most health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil) that is formulated with penis-specific vitamins, antioxidants and moisturizers is suggested. A penis cream should be applied to unbroken skin once or twice daily, after showering, to make the most of its skin-soothing benefits.