Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Cacti growing out of the ground.

Cacti growing out of the ground.
beginning of content

Penis irritation

Irritation and inflammation around the penis and testicles can occur if the sensitive skin in these areas comes into contact with:

  • latex condoms or diaphragms
  • lubricants and spermicides
  • soaps, shower gels and shampoos
  • deodorants or feminine hygiene sprays
  • disinfectants, antiseptics and ointments
  • washing powders or fabric softeners (if underwear is not rinsed properly)
  • new underwear (especially if it is not made from cotton).

If the area under the foreskin is not washed properly, sweat and urine can build up which can cause irritation. However, scrubbing or excessive washing of the penis can also be a source of irritation.

Groin infections

The groin area should be kept clean and dry to prevent fungal infections. Fungi like to live in moist, warm places, such as folds of skin. Fungal infections of the groin may be passed from person to person, and can be irritating, painful or itchy.

Looking after yourself

  • If you have irritation of the penis, shower and clean the irritated area in warm water at least twice a day. Carefully pull back and clean underneath the foreskin, as well as the tip of your penis (the glans). Make sure you pat the area dry rather than rubbing it.
  • Avoid using perfumed soaps, shower gels or deodorants around the area since this can cause further irritation. Also avoid using any other product you think might have caused the irritation.
  • If you think the irritation was caused by using latex condoms, try using hypoallergenic condoms that are meant for people with sensitive skin. Speak to a pharmacist or your local sexual health clinic for further advice.
  • Keep the area dry and free from sweat to make it difficult for fungal infections to survive.
  • Change underwear daily.


Managing discomfort

A cool compress may be used to soothe any pain. An ice pack may relieve the irritation, but should not be placed directly against the skin. Try wrapping a bag of frozen peas in a cloth, such as a clean tea towel, and mould this around the swollen area.

If you are in pain, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice on medicines you can take.

Suitable treatments may be available from your local pharmacy, but remember to speak to your pharmacist before you purchase any creams or lotions.

Consider others

Tell your sexual partner(s) about the irritation so they can be examined and treated, if necessary. Avoid any sexual contact with others until the infection has cleared up.

Wash your hands before and after washing to prevent the spread of the infection. You should also avoid sharing your flannel or towel with others.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about penis irritation, why not use healthdirect's online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self-care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: July 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 51 results

Balanitis & balano-posthitis - ACD

Balanitis is inflammation of the glans penis (head) of the male penis, due to any cause.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Male circumcision: To snip or not to snip? | Parenthub

Male circumcision is a surgical procedure to remove the foreskin of the penis. While most people know what circumcision is, many are vague on the finer details of this simple procedure, including the risks and benefits.

Read more on Parenthub website

Lichen sclerosus - ACD

Lichen sclerosus is a skin disease that mostly affects the genital region in children and adults of both sexes. Sometimes lichen sclerosus involves the skin around the anus in young girls and women.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Caverject Impulse Powder for injection -

Caverject Impulse Powder for injection - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Caverject Powder for injection -

Caverject Powder for injection - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Thrush (genital)

Thrush (or candidiasis) is a common yeast infection that mainly affects women and can be irritating and painful.

Read more on WA Health website

Lichen planus - ACD

Lichen planus is a non-infectious, inflammatory skin condition, which generally occurs in middle-aged adults. It affects up to 1-2% of the population.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website


Human scabies is caused by an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite (Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis).

Read more on WA Health website

Scabies - ACD

Scabies is a condition that occurs as a result of infestation with a tiny mite (parasite) called Sarcoptes scabei var hominis.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Prostatis - inflammation of the prostate gland | Andrology Australia

Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland that can affect men at any age. One in every six men have this condition at some stage during their lives.

Read more on Andrology Australia website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo