Reddened, swollen and itchy penis skin is no joke, and it can be an alarming experience. Many men have been sent into a panic over the appearance of dry and irritated skin of the penis, jumping to the conclusion that they have contracted a socially transmitted disease. In fact, in many cases, red and swollen skin is simply the result of penis skin allergies. Adverse reactions to environmental irritants are common, but with appropriate penis skin care, these should be short-lived and should not cause any lasting damage.

Symptoms of a penis skin allergy

Skin reactions to irritants are commonly referred to as dermatitis, an inflammatory condition that results in redness, swelling and intense itching. After exposure to an allergen, the skin may develop a spreading rash and/or a dry, scaly appearance. Men with darker skin tones may find that the skin in the affected area appears lighter than the surrounding tissue.

Adverse reactions may occur almost immediately or within a few hours after exposure. Scratching the affected area is unlikely to make the itching better and may damage the surface of the skin, causing bleeding, scabbing and further irritation that contributes to ongoing discomfort. If the urethra, or penile opening, is affected, painful urination may also occur.

Potential causes of dermatitis

A wide range of environmental irritants can cause contact dermatitis. These include everyday substances such as laundry detergents and fabric softeners, as well as bath soaps and other personal care products. Some men may be allergic to certain fabrics and experience adverse reactions to undergarments or other clothing containing nylon, wool, or latex rubber (often used in “stretchy” materials).

Latex condoms are also a common cause of penis skin allergies; in addition, contact with an allergen on the surface of a sexual partner’s skin may lead to dermatitis. Men who urinate outdoors may accidentally come in contact with plants such as poison ivy or poison oak, which are also known to cause rash, inflammation and severe itching.

Reducing allergy-related reactions

It is not always possible to avoid all irritants, but certain precautions can be taken to help men who are prone to dermatitis avoid exposure to the most reactive substances. For instance, rinsing clothing thoroughly after washing can help to eliminate traces of detergents. Using a mild natural cleanser such as an olive oil soap may be less likely to cause irritation than ordinary soaps and shower gels, and wearing cotton or silk clothing close to the skin is also recommended. Men who have a latex allergy should opt for latex-free condoms. It is important to keep in mind that even those who have not previously had an adverse reaction to latex may develop a sensitivity over time, so men who develop allergic-type symptoms should discontinue its use and look for an alternative.

Men who develop respiratory symptoms in addition to a skin reaction should seek immediate medical attention to avoid a potentially life-threatening scenario. Those who come in contact with a known allergen should rinse the area thoroughly as soon as possible to minimize exposure. Symptoms such as itchy penis skin, redness and inflammation that do not subside in a day or so should be seen by a doctor to determine the exact cause.

Caring for the penis skin

When allergic reactions do occur, the immediate goal is relief. Scratching the area is a bad idea, but as previously noted, washing the affected skin to remove any traces of allergen is recommended. Applying a cold compress to the area or soaking in an oatmeal bath may also help to relieve the itching and burning.

A natural moisturizer such as shea butter may help to soothe irritation and redness, while the nutrients found in a high quality penis health formula (most health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) may speed healing, as well as helping to prevent scarring and improving the overall look and feel of the penis skin.