It goes without saying that a rash on your penis is uncomfortable, so figuring out what’s causing it is key. Causes range from eczema and allergic reactions to more severe ones like STIs.

Penis irritation is an unpleasant, but not an uncommon, problem. You might have pain, itchiness, swelling, a rash, or other symptoms on or around your penis.

Many medical conditions can lead to penis irritation. Sometimes, an activity or injury is the culprit. Identifying the source of your discomfort can help you and your doctor find an effective treatment.

Read on to learn what could be causing your penis irritation.

1. Genital psoriasis

Genital psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes small, red patches to form on your penis. Your skin may be scaly or shiny, and you might experience itchiness or soreness.

Researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes psoriasis. This condition affects both circumcised and uncircumcised men.

2. Eczema

Eczema causes an itchy, flaky, and red rash to form on your skin. This rash can crop up just about anywhere on your body, including your penis.

About 31.6 million people in the United States have some form of eczema.

3. Allergic reaction

You may develop itching, irritation, and a rash on your penis due to an allergic reaction. Certain chemicals found in soaps, perfumes, and spermicides might be the cause. Or, you may be sensitive to the latex found in condoms.

4. Sexual transmitted infections (STIs)

Certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which are passed through sexual contact, can cause bumps, sores, blisters, warts, redness, swelling, and itching near your penis.

Doctors have identified more than 20 STIs. Some of them include:

It’s important to see your healthcare provider if you think you might have an STI.

5. Balanitis

Balanitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the skin on the head of your penis. Symptoms might include:

  • redness
  • swelling
  • itching
  • rash
  • pain
  • foul-smelling discharge

Balanitis is more common in men and boys who haven’t been circumcised and practice poor hygiene. It may be caused by:

  • an infection
  • an allergy
  • chronic skin problems
  • another underlying medical condition, such as diabetes

6. Yeast infection

A yeast infection may cause an itchy, spotty rash to form on and around your penis. You might also experience burning and notice a thick white substance in the genital area.

The fungus that causes most yeast infections is called Candida albicans.

Most yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal medicines. In some cases, they can lead to balanitis.

7. Friction

Any type of activity that causes friction on the penis can bring on redness and pain.

Wearing tight-fitting clothing can lead to chafing. Sexual intercourse and masturbation can also cause too much rubbing, which can be irritating.

8. Lichen sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus is a rare skin condition that often affects the genital and anal regions of the body. It can cause patchy, white skin to form on the penis. You might have redness, itching, pain, blistering, scarring, or bleeding in the affected area.

The condition most often impacts postmenopausal women, but it can affect males too, especially uncircumcised boys and men.

Doctors don’t know what causes lichen sclerosus.

9. Peyronie’s disease

Peyronie’s disease causes hard lumps of scar tissue to form inside the penis shaft, which makes the penis bend to one side when it’s erect.

This condition can cause pain on and around the penis.

Doctors aren’t sure what causes Peyronie’s disease. The condition may improve on its own without treatment. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

10. Ingrown hair

Ingrown hairs usually crop up on areas of the body that you shave, but they can surface anywhere hair grows, including on your penis. These hairs can cause itchy, red, and painful bumps that look like pimples.

Most of the time, ingrown hairs will go away on their own.

11. Urinary tract infection (UTI)

While they’re more common in women, men can develop urinary tract infections (UTIs), too. UTIs happen when bacteria build up in your urinary tract.

If you have a UTI, you might have trouble urinating or feel a burning or tingling sensation during or right after urination.

Treatment with antibiotics can effectively eliminate this type of infection.

Penis irritation in babies may be due to diaper rash. Eczema and fungal infections are also common causes. Additionally, some kids are sensitive to chemicals that can irritate their skin.

Boys who are uncircumcised are more likely to develop certain conditions, such as balanitis, that can lead to irritation.

You may be able to relieve some irritation at home using any of the following methods:

  • Moisturizers or anti-itch creams. Look for creams made especially for the penis area. These are less likely to contain harsh ingredients.
  • Salt baths. Taking a salt bath can help with itching and discomfort.
  • Cool compresses. An ice pack or another cool compress can relieve irritation. Wrap it in a cloth first before applying to your skin to avoid over-chilling the area.
  • Abstaining from sex. Avoiding sexual intercourse and other activities that may aggravate the skin around your penis is a good idea until your symptoms improve.

While these therapies might temporarily relieve irritation, it’s important to see your doctor to determine if you need medical treatment.

You should see a doctor if you’re experiencing irritation that’s severe or doesn’t go away. Many of the conditions that cause penis discomfort can be easily treated.

To prevent penis irritation:

  • Wash the area regularly with a non-irritating, soap-free cleanser.
  • Dry the head of your penis before putting on clothing.
  • Wash your hands before and after using the bathroom.
  • Wash and dry your penis after sex or masturbation.
  • If you’re uncircumcised, pull back your foreskin and wash around the head of your penis and under the foreskin at least once daily.

Penis irritation can be due to several causes. You might have a medical condition that needs to be addressed, or you may just have to avoid certain activities that are worsening the irritation.

Either way, it’s important to see your healthcare provider if your symptoms don’t go away on their own.