A sore, red penis is not an unusual occurrence. Men tend to put their equipment to hard use, and issues like friction, chafing, sensitive skin reactions and a host of other dermatological ailments can lead to redness and penile pain. In most cases, these problems can be easily identified and treated; but what happens when there is no clear cause, and even the most diligent efforts at penis care are ineffective?
Chronic penile pain can significantly damage a man’s enjoyment of sex, his self-esteem and his overall quality of life, so finding answers to this potentially life-altering issue is crucial. In cases where redness and pain don’t seem to respond at all to standard treatments or relief measures, it may be time to look deeper. One possible explanation for a red, sore penis is a condition known as male genital dysaesthesia.
What is male genital dysaesthesia?
Men with this condition typically describe sensations of heat, burning, discomfort and hypersensitivity to touch in the penis, foreskin, and scrotum. These issues may be made worse by touching the genitals, wearing underwear or sitting, and some men may find normal sexual relations to be unbearably painful. The area may also appear redder than normal, although itching is not usually present.
Male genital dysaesthesia may also be referred to as peno-scroto-dynia or “red scrotum syndrome” (although it affects the penis as well as the scrotal area).
What causes genital dysaesthesia?
There is no one, clear-cut cause for this type of chronic penile pain, although it appears to be associated with acne rosacea (a condition that causes a red, flushed appearance of the face) in some men. Some potential causes may include:
– Overactive nerve endings;
– Nerve disorders such as pudendal nerve entrapment;
– A response to long-term use of corticosteroid creams.
Often, men who have chronic soreness, burning and a red penis are initially diagnosed with eczema (also known as dermatitis) and advised to use cortisone creams. These remedies do not have any effect on dysaesthesia, but men may continue to use them long after the recommended treatment period in an effort to relieve their symptoms, thereby contributing to the underlying problem.
How is it diagnosed?
Affected men may present with very red penile skin with sharply defined borders, broken blood vessels, tenderness and pain. Swabs of the affected tissue may be taken to rule out other conditions such as fungal or bacterial infections and STDs.
Who gets it?
The individuals who are most commonly affected tend to be Caucasian men in their 60s and beyond; however, younger men and men of other races may also develop symptoms of genital dysaesthesia.
Are there any effective treatment methods?
Treating dysaesthesia generally involves three aspects:
– Use of prescription medications. Some antibiotics and tryciclic medications may help reduce redness in the area, and anticonvulsive medications (often used for treating neuropathic conditions) can be very effective in reducing the pain. Affected men should talk to their doctors about these options, as well as the potential side effects.
– Avoidance of irritants that can make the soreness worse. Because soap can be harsh and drying, patients are advised to use soap-free cleansers; changing to a non-allergenic, sensitive-skin laundry detergent may also help. In most cases, men will be advised to stop using corticosteroid creams.
– Use of various palliative measures to soothe the affected area. Applying cool compresses can reduce the burning sensation, and wearing breathable cotton underwear (I.e., boxer shorts) can prevent constriction. A non-irritating moisturizer may also be applied after a daily shower. A quality penis health cream (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) containing natural emollients such as Shea butter may be particularly effective, as it is formulated with the sensitive skin of the penis in mind.