Penile Eczema: Everything You Need To Know

If you’re reading this, chances are you or someone you know is struggling with penile eczema. It’s a frustrating and often embarrassing condition, but the good news is that it is treatable. In this blog post, we’ll explore what causes penile eczema, some of the common symptoms, and most importantly, how to treat it. Keep reading to learn more!

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What is penile eczema?

Penile eczema, also known as penile dermatitis, is a skin condition that affects the penis. It is characterized by red, scaly, and itchy skin. Penile eczema can be uncomfortable and painful, and it can sometimes lead to secondary infections. The good news is that it is readily treatable with a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications.

Areas on the body classify as penile eczema

Penile eczema is a broad term for eczema anywhere on the penis, here are some specific areas you may hear your doctor mention.

  • Erectile tissue/penile skin
  • Penile head
  • Penile shaft
  • The base of the penis

What causes penile eczema?

The exact cause of penile eczema is unknown, but there are several factors that can contribute to its development. These include allergic reactions, irritation from soaps or detergents, exposure to certain chemicals or pollutants, and underlying medical conditions such as psoriasis or diabetes. In some cases, stress or hormone changes might be to blame as well.

List of possible penile eczema causes

  • Age
  • Allergies
  • Contact with allergens
  • Contact with irritants
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive sweating
  • Friction
  • Genetics
  • Hormones
  • History of other skin conditions
  • Idiopathic (unknown)
  • Irritation
  • Psoriasis
  • Stress
  • Tight clothing
  • Warm/humid climate

Penile eczema symptoms

The most common symptom of penile eczema is itching. The itchiness can be mild or severe, and it might be constant or come and go. Other symptoms include redness, dryness, cracking, and burning. In some cases, blisters or pus-filled bumps might also form. If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor as soon as possible. They will be able to give you a diagnosis and recommend treatment options.

List of common penile eczema symptoms

  • Blisters
  • Bumps
  • Burning
  • Cracking skin
  • Dryness
  • Itchiness
  • Pain
  • Rash
  • Redness
  • Scaling or flaking skin

How long does penile dermatitis last?

Most cases of penile eczema go away within a few weeks. However, in some cases, it can last for months or even years. Knowing the cause of your eczema will help get you an accurate answer.

For example, if your penile eczema is caused by switching to a new body wash, when you switch back to soap you are not allergic to, your symptoms should resolve.

In cases where the cause of penile eczema is unknown, the symptoms could last years.

What does penile eczema look like?

Penile eczema looks slightly different for everyone and varies from person to person. Here are a few photos of penile eczema that should give you a better understanding of what it looks like.

scrotum and penis shaft showing red patches of inflamed, dry and irritated skin.
Source: FirstDerm.com

This image is of the scrotum and shaft of the penis. The dermatologist noted this as a very common case of penile eczema.

itchy and stingy rash with skin flakes on the shaft of penis. Red, damaged skin that was diagnosed as penile eczema
Source: FirstDerm.com

The patient reported that this rash was itchy and sometimes stingy. Their symptoms kept getting worse as time went by. Their itching got worse with activities that caused sweating.

red, irritated skin with small white dots. This is on the head of the penis as well as the shaft. Dermatologist diagnosed as balanitis
Source: FirstDerm.com

The dermatologist from First Derm described this type of penile eczema as balanitis, which is an inflammation of the head of the penis.

Diagnosis

Penile eczema is diagnosed by looking at the skin on the penis. Your doctor may also ask about your symptoms and whether anything seems to make them better or worse. There is no single test for penile dermatitis. Your doctor will likely diagnose it based on a physical examination and your medical history.

If your doctor suspects that an allergy is causing your eczema, they may start you on a medicated cream, or order an allergy test. These tests can help identify the substance you’re allergic to.

Treatment for penile eczema

Treatment for penile eczema usually involves a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. Once you have been diagnosed with penile eczema, there are a few different treatment options available. These include topical steroids, oral antihistamines, immunosuppressive drugs, and light therapy.

In most cases, a combination of these treatments will be necessary to effectively control the symptoms of penile eczema. If you think you may have penile eczema, the first step is to see your doctor or a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis.

Anti-itch creams

Anti-itch creams can help relieve the itchiness and irritation associated with eczema. They come in both over-the-counter and prescription strengths and work by numbing the area or by blocking histamines, which are the chemicals that cause itching.

Moisturizers

Moisturizers are a key part of any eczema treatment plan. They help to seal in moisture and keep the skin hydrated. This can help to reduce inflammation and itching. Choose a moisturizer that is fragrance-free and hypoallergenic to minimize the risk of irritation.

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are a type of medication that helps reduce inflammation. They can be helpful in treating eczema because they help to control the immune system response that leads to inflammation and dry, itchy skin.

There are many choices out there, talk with your doctor to find what would be best for you. Here are the most popular corticosteroids on Amazon.

Cold compress

A cold compress can help relieve the symptoms of penile eczema by soothing the skin and reducing inflammation. It can also help reduce itching and burning. To use a cold compress, wrap a few ice cubes in a towel and hold it against the affected area for a few minutes. Repeat as needed.

If you don’t want to go the old-fashioned way with ice cubes, I found these “Nutsicle” Ice packs. They are reusable and designed to contour your private parts. Check them out on Amazon.

Oatmeal Bath

You can also take an oatmeal bath to calm the skin and relieve itching and burning. To take an oatmeal bath, you will need some oatmeal and a bathtub. Grind the oatmeal into a powder and add it to the bathtub while filling it with water. Soak in the tub for about 20 minutes to relieve the itching and irritation.

Tip: Put the oats in a mesh strainer while the water is running, or place the oats in stockings (pantyhose).

Pro Tip: If you want to avoid the headache of dealing with the oats, strainers, and grinders, pick up some pre-made sachets (or make your own). This way you can just throw them out when you are done with the bath.

mogimogi baby oat eczema bath packets coming out of their bag, with 9 sachets showing.
Source: mogimogibaby.com

These packets or sachets are organic oatmeal bath packets. Don’t let the word “baby” in the title make you not want to try these. Their results are baby smooth skin! You can pick them up on Amazon for under $15. Worth a shot if you ask me.

Antihistamines

Antihistamines are medications that help to relieve the symptoms of eczema by blocking the action of histamine, a chemical that is released during an allergic reaction. Histamine is responsible for many of the symptoms associated with penile eczema, including inflammation, itching, and swelling. By blocking the action of histamine, antihistamines can help to reduce your symptoms and improve the overall condition of the skin.

Topical prescription medications

Topical medications are usually the first line of treatment for people with eczema because they’re usually less expensive and have fewer side effects than oral medications. Your doctor will likely prescribe a corticosteroid cream or ointment—a type of anti-inflammatory medication—to reduce swelling, redness itchiness caused by eczema flare-ups.

Prescription corticosteroids

Corticosteroids simulate the effects of the hormone cortisol. The adrenal gland makes cortisol, a steroid hormone that helps to combat inflammation in the body. When cortisol levels are high, they can assist to reduce bodily inflammation.

Self-help and over-the-counter treatments might not always be sufficient. Your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids if necessary in this situation.

Prescription steroid cream

These creams are similar to what you would find in hydrocortisone but are beefed up to the prescription level.

Pimecrolimus cream

This medication helps to suppress the immune system and can be used in cases where corticosteroids are not effective. 

Oral prescription medications for penile eczema

If topical medications don’t relieve your symptoms or if you have moderate to severe eczema, your doctor may recommend oral medications in addition to topical treatments.

Systemic corticosteroids

These medications are taken orally or intravenously and can be used in severe cases where other treatments have not been successful. 

Immunosuppressant drugs

Immunosuppressant drugs can also be effective in treating moderate to severe eczema by suppressing overactive immune system responses that contribute to inflammation. However, these drugs come with the risk of serious side effects, so they should only be used as a last resort.

Biologic drugs

Biologic drugs are another option for people with moderate to severe eczema. These drugs work by targeting specific proteins involved in inflammation. Like immunosuppressant drugs, biologics come with a risk of serious side effects, so they’re usually only used when other treatments haven’t worked.

Ultraviolet light therapy (Phototherapy)

Ultraviolet light therapy, or phototherapy, is a treatment option for people with moderate to severe eczema. The therapy involves exposing the skin to UV light in order to promote healing. There are two types of ultraviolet light therapy: broadband and narrowband.

Broadband UV light: A type of UVB radiation that is used to treat a wide range of skin conditions, including eczema.

Narrowband UVB radiation: A type of UVB radiation that is specifically targeted at treating eczema.

Both types of ultraviolet light therapy are effective in reducing inflammation, itching, and scaling associated with eczema. They can also help to improve the overall condition of the skin.

How to prevent penile eczema

There are a few options available to assist with preventing penile eczema flare-ups. Of course, the best option would be to know your triggers and avoid them (if possible). Keep in mind, there is no cure for eczema, just techniques and lifestyle changes to prevent flare-ups.

Keep your skin moisturized

If you have eczema, it’s important to keep your skin moisturized. This can help prevent the skin from becoming dry, cracked, and irritated. Use a gentle, unscented moisturizer often, especially after bathing. You may also want to apply a thick cream versus a lotion.

The choices for moisturizers are almost endless, and their effectiveness can vary from person to person.

Source: eczema honey

I have not tried this specific cream for this specific condition, but if I was in the same boat as you, I would give eczema honey a try. Eczema honey is natural, has good ratings, and is accepted by the National Eczema Association, plus you can find it on Amazon.

Avoid harsh Chemicals

a sign with a red circle crossed out. Stating no harsh chemicals.
allergypreventions.com

Chemicals can be brutal to your skin. Avoiding chemicals, or even switching to a more natural soap might just be what your body needs to keep flare-ups at bay. For jobs that require you to use harsh chemicals, ensure you are using the proper Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), like masks, gloves, smocks, etc.

Potential harsh chemicals to avoid:

  • Bodywash
  • Cleaners
  • Detergent
  • Industrial chemicals
  • Scented soaps
  • Shaving cream

EWG and Chemicals

The EWG is an organization that strives to inform the consumer (you) with product ingredient information regarding its safety. You can check their website or download their app. Here is an example of the information the EWG provides you on products.

EWG overall product page example

This page example is showing the overall ratings for all laundry detergents that the EWG has reviewed. The product ratings range from EWG Verified™ (best) to “F”, which is the worst.

environmental working group (EWG) product page example for laundry detergent. Screen shows how products rank, ranging from EWG Verified and A - F ratings
Source: EWG.org
EWG-specific product example

This is an EWG example on the AspenClean laundry detergent pods. From the image, you can see what the product looks like, its rating (EWG Verified), and the specific concerns with the ingredients.

environmental working group (EWG) product page example. Showing the image of the product (AspenClean Laundry Detergent) and its rating. The rating is "EWG Verified" and it shows some concern to low concern on all topics listed. Topics listed are, asthma/respiratory, skin allergies & reproductive toxicity, cancer, environment.
Source: EWG.org
EWG product page ingredient list

This is an ingredient list example from the AspenClean laundry pods. The EWG ingredients list breaks down each chemical inside the product, gives it a rating, and notifies you of the potential concerns.

environmental working group (EWG) laundry detergent product ingredients example. A list of all ingredients in this detergent with ratings from "C" to "A" on each of the chemicals.
Source: EWG.org

Did you check out a product you currently use? Did it come up with a not-so-good rating, or as a skin irritant? This may be the cause of your penile eczema!

Avoid irritating your private parts

There are certain activities that can irritate your penis and the surrounding areas. These activities can cause an eczema flare-up. Consider avoiding shaving, or using scented shaving cream in the area, don’t forget about as well as any high-friction activities as well.

Don’t scratch!

When you scratch your skin, it makes eczema worse. Additionally, you will cause further damage to your skin which can make you more prone to infections, and lengthen the healing time.

Look for trends on what may causing your symptoms

Have you noticed that your symptoms show up on certain days of the week, or after specific activities? Keep track of that information and soon you will develop enough data to help narrow down the cause of eczema in your private parts.

FAQs

Can you get eczema on your private parts (male)?


Yes, you can get eczema flare-ups on all areas of your “private parts”. Eczema has been documented everywhere there is skin on the human body.


What helps eczema on private parts?


There are many over-the-counter creams and moisturizers that can help with soothing penile, and scrotal eczema. Additionally, it is best to avoid scratching or irritating the area until the flare-up is resolved.


Is eczema on the penile head contagious?


No, eczema on the penile head is not contagious. There are conditions that may look like eczema but are not eczema, that may be contagious. Contact your medical provider for a proper diagnosis if you have not done so already.


What does penile eczema feel like?


Most penile eczema sufferers will feel pain, itchiness, or both on the surface of the skin.


Is penile eczema contagious?


No penile eczema is not contagious. According to Dermatologist Dr. Johannes Ring, eczema (including penile) is a non-contagious inflammation of the skin.


Can dermatitis be mistaken for herpes?


Yes, dermatitis can be mistaken for herpes. Eczema (dermatitis) and herpes can both present red inflammation and bumps. A medical professional can easily diagnose and distinguish between the two conditions.

Final thoughts

Penile eczema is a frustrating and often embarrassing condition, but the good news is that the symptoms are treatable. If you think you may have penile eczema, see your doctor or a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis.

Check these out:

Maybe your eczema is more on the scrotum than the penis? Read this: Scrotal Eczema: Everything You Need to Know

So, spongiotic dermatitis is not as specific as penile dermatitis, but the moisturizers are the same. If you are unsure about a moisturizer, check these out. 10 Best Spongiotic Dermatitis Moisturizers

By Chris

Chris is the creator of Allergy Preventions. As an allergy sufferer himself, his vision is to help others find relief from allergies. By combining his 14 years of Public Health experience, personal experience, and his thirst for knowledge, he is dedicated to providing quality recommendations to assist families with allergy symptom relief.