Irritation and inflammation around the penis and testicles can be caused by the sensitive skin in these areas coming into contact with:
- latex condoms and 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).
Irritation can also be due to a build-up of sweat and urine from not washing under your foreskin properly, or from scrubbing or excessive washing of the penis.
Fungi like to live in moist, warm places, such as folds of skin. So the groin area should be kept clean and dry to prevent fungal infections. Fungal infections of the groin may be passed on from person-to-person, and can be irritating, painful or itchy.
Looking after yourself
- 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.
- Do not use soap or shower gel, and avoid contact with anything that may have caused, or may worsen, the irritation.
- 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.
- Avoid any sexual contact until your condition has cleared up as this could make it worse.
- Avoid using any product you think may 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.
- Suitable treatments may be available from your local pharmacy, but remember to speak to your pharmacist before you purchase and apply any creams or lotions.
Groin or penis infection
- Clean the area in warm water at least twice a day. Pat dry carefully and then apply any cream you have been given by your doctor or pharmacist.
- Avoid using perfumed soaps, shower gels or deodorants around the area, as this can cause further irritation.
- Wash your hands before and after washing to prevent the spread of the infection. Also, do not share your flannel or towel with others.
- Keep the area dry and free from sweat to make it difficult for fungal infections to survive.
- Change underwear daily.
- If you are in pain, get advice from your doctor or pharmacist on medicines you can take.
- Tell your sexual partner(s) so they can also be examined and treated, if necessary. Avoid any sexual contact with others until the infection has cleared.
Not sure what to do next?
If you are still concerned about your 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