Penile burning sensation

Dr. Rajalakshmi VK (AIIMS)MBBS

September 10, 2020

April 26, 2023

Penile burning sensation
Penile burning sensation

A burning sensation in any part of the body can be uncomfortable (read more: Burning sensation in the skin). But the discomfort can be even greater when this sensation is in the genitals.

A burning sensation is usually accompanied by symptoms like

  • The site of the sensation becomes warm to the touch
  • The skin at the affected area may be red, sore or swollen

Penile burning sensation is no different: a burning sensation may be felt in any part of the penis including the base, the shaft or the head of the penis or other parts of the genital area, although it is mostly felt at the tip or head of the penis, especially while urinating. It can also be felt on the foreskin, along with itchiness or a throbbing sensation, and sometimes along with penis pain.

Read more: What is smegma and how to remove it from the tip of the penis?

There are several known causes of a burning sensation in the penis. The penile burning sensation is most commonly due to an infection or a sexually transmitted infection (STI). In some cases, it may be due to an allergy, external injury or a wound.

However, a burning sensation in the penis can be treated with antibiotics and by maintaining good general hygiene as well as practising safe sex. Read on to know more about the symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment for penile burning sensation.

Penile burning sensation symptoms

The symptoms of burning sensation in the penis can vary based on the cause. In most cases, the symptoms are as follows:

  • Burning sensation while urinating
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Bloody or pink-coloured urine
  • Foul discharge from the penis
  • Blisters, scabbing or rashes on the foreskin or the penis
  • Itching, peeling of the skin on the foreskin
  • Pain or discomfort in the genitals
  • Difficulty or pain while having sex
  • Pain or a burning sensation while performing daily activities
  • Fever or flu-like symptoms
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Penile burning sensation causes

A burning sensation in the penis may be the result of:

  • A urinary tract infection: Urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect both men and women. UTI is an umbrella term used to describe infections of the urinary system. One of the most common symptoms of a UTI is a burning sensation while urinating. The burning sensation is often coupled with a frequent urge to urinate and foul-smelling urine. UTIs are also known to affect men of all ages.
  • Chlamydia: Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) affecting both men and women. It is transmitted through unprotected sex (including unprotected oral sex and anal sex) with someone who is already infected. One of the common complaints of having chlamydia is a burning sensation while urinating, along with a foul discharge from the penis in men.
  • Gonorrhoea: Gonorrhoea is also a common STI that affects both men and women but is more common among younger people, especially in the late teens and early twenties. A burning sensation during urination is considered to be one of the common symptoms of this condition, along with swelling and a foul discharge from the penis. 
  • Other STIs: Several other sexually transmitted infections are also associated with the feeling of a burning sensation in the penis, such as herpes, syphilis (another bacterial infection transmitted through sexual contact) as well as genital warts, which is caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Urethritis: Marked by inflammation of the urethra, urethritis is a bacterial infection but it is different from a UTI as it primarily affects the urethra (a thin tube at the base of the bladder that carries the urine out of the body). Patients with this condition often complain of a burning sensation during urination, among other symptoms.
  • Penile yeast infection: A common fungal infection, yeast infection affects both men and women. A penile yeast infection primarily occurs when there is an overgrowth of the commensal yeast on the penis. It is an infection that is more common among uncircumcised men because of the presence of the foreskin where the yeast can grow. It can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse, especially vaginal sex, as vaginal yeast infection is also quite common. The burning sensation, a rash on the foreskin and a white discharge are the common symptoms of this condition.
  • Balanitis: Balanitis is an inflammation of the glans or the head of the penis, and is commonly associated with uncircumcised men, particularly due to poor hygiene and the accumulation of yeast or other microorganisms. If it is not treated on time, it can cause balanoposthitis. A burning sensation is common among people who have this infection.
  • Prostatitis: Whether acute or chronic, prostatitis is described as an inflammation of the prostate gland. This condition can cause pain in the penis, the testicles as well as the anus and even the lower abdomen. Some forms of prostatitis are known to cause a burning sensation in the penis, especially while urinating.
  • Kidney stones: As the kidneys are responsible for turning the waste products in the body into urine so that it can be effectively ejected from the body, the presence of kidney stones can affect the entire process. Difficulty to pass urine is a common factor associated with kidney stones, along with pain and a burning sensation. (Read more: What to eat and what to avoid when you have kidney stones)
  • Penile cancer: Although rare, penile cancer may be an underlying reason behind a burning sensation in the penis or a burning sensation while urinating. Changes in the skin around the genitals, swelling and pain are some of the other signs of penile cancer.

Prevention of penile burning sensation

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and hygiene standards is very important to prevent the onset of such symptoms as a penile burning sensation.

Cleaning the penis and genital area thoroughly, especially while bathing is very important. Practising safe and protected sex with the use of a new condom for each act and dental dams for oral sex is important. It is important to clean up properly after engaging in sexual activities as well.

Besides maintaining a good standard of hygiene and cleanliness, it is also important to never delay a visit to the doctor, especially when you feel the first signs or symptoms emerging in the body.

In many cases, men do not visit a doctor due to fear or shame. They may choose to not even speak about problems involving their genitalia, which should be avoided at all costs to prevent the condition from worsening.

Diagnosis of penile burning sensation

A doctor would have to physically examine the affected area and ask about the medical history of the patient as well as the signs and symptoms they have been experiencing to be able to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. 

It is important to visit a doctor as early as possible if you experience a burning sensation in the penis, to control any infection early and prevent it from spreading or worsening any more.

Penile burning sensation treatment

As mentioned above, the diagnosis and treatment of a burning sensation in the penis are dictated by the underlying cause.

In most cases, medications such as antibiotics to treat the respective conditions are enough to bring the infection down, but it can take time depending on the type of infection the patient has. Sexually transmitted infections can also be managed or treated with medications, but one must avoid sexual contact with others until the symptoms and the problem has gone away completely. Practising safe sex can also ensure STIs are prevented.