Dermatitis of the penis is a painful and extremely irritating condition, but it is not life threatening. Allergic contact dermatitis commonly occurs after a sexual encounter where the penis comes in contact with an allergen on the skin of another person, or skin inflammation may be due to prolonged moisture around the genitalia. Other causes of dermatitis of the penis may occur as the result of using or coming in contact with certain personal lubricant products, feminine deodorants, harsh soaps or spermicidal products, as well as common household detergents that may trigger an allergic reaction in individuals prone to skin allergies. Dermatitis of the penis is also sometimes caused by an allergic reaction to the latex in condoms or may even be due to excessive friction causing damage to the skin’s surface. A male who urinates outdoors may experience dermatitis of the genitals if contact with poison ivy or the Manchineel tree is made.
Contact dermatitis can occur quickly after exposure to an irritating substance or allergen. Symptoms usually occur within one hour to two days of original contact with whatever originally caused the inflammation. Commonly referred to as a penis rash, dermatitis of the penis is characterized by skin inflammation and dry scaly skin on the genitals that often turns red, white or gray, as well as intense penis itching. Males with darker skin tones commonly notice a lightening of the skin in the affected area instead of redness. Some males may also experience blisters, which cause pain during urination or sexual stimulation.
Laundry soaps, fabric softeners and bath soap may also cause dermatitis of the penis. This is particularly true in males with sensitive skin or in cases where residual chemicals remain in garments as the result of incomplete rinsing. For a few men, an allergy to certain fibers, such as nylon used to make underclothing, may also trigger symptoms of dermatitis of the penis.
Treatment of dermatitis of the penis involves identifying the original source of the penis rash and, if possible, eliminating it. A doctor may prescribe medication to help reduce the swelling and soothe the itch. Applying a cold compress to the area also helps relieve itching and reduce inflammation.