Penile inflammatory skin conditions such as balanitis and posthitis are common, especially in uncircumcised males, and feature prominently in medical consultations. We conducted a systematic review of the medical literature on PubMed, EMBASE, and Cohrane databases using keywords "balanitis," "posthitis," "balanoposthitis," "lichen sclerosus," "penile inflammation," and "inflammation penis," along with "circumcision," "circumcised," and "uncircumcised." Balanitis is the most common inflammatory disease of the penis. The accumulation of yeasts and other microorganisms under the foreskin contributes to inflammation of the surrounding penile tissue. The clinical presentation of inflammatory penile conditions includes itching, tenderness, and pain. Penile inflammation is responsible for significant morbidity, including acquired phimosis, balanoposthitis, and lichen sclerosus. Medical treatment can be challenging and a cost burden to the health system. Reducing prevalence is therefore important. While topical antifungal creams can be used, usually accompanied by advice on hygiene, the definitive treatment is circumcision. Data from meta-analyses showed that circumcised males have a 68% lower prevalence of balanitis than uncircumcised males and that balanitis is accompanied by a 3.8-fold increase in risk of penile cancer. Because of the high prevalence and morbidity of penile inflammation, especially in immunocompromised and diabetic patients, circumcision should be more widely adopted globally and is best performed early in infancy.
Keywords: Balanitis; circumcision male; foreskin; infection; inflammation; lichen sclerosus.