Springdale Mason Pediatrics

Penis - Contact Dermatitis

Definition

  • Rash on the male genitals (penis or scrotum)

Call or Return If

  • Rash looks infected
  • Rash spreads or gets worse
  • Rash lasts more than 1 week
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

About This Topic

Symptoms

  • Red or pink rash on the penis, foreskin or scrotum
  • Rashes on the scrotum also cause swelling.
  • These rashes can be itchy.
  • Poison ivy or oak contact can even cause blisters.

Causes

  • Most rashes on the penis or scrotum are caused by skin irritants.
  • Hand-to-penis contact is normal when passing urine. Therefore, the rash is most likely from an irritant that was on the hands.
  • Examples are plants (such as weeds) or chemicals (such as bug spray). Fiberglass, pet saliva or even food can also be irritants.
  • Rashes are more common in the summertime. Reason: Children are outdoors and have more contact with plants, pollens and insects.

"Summer Penile Syndrome"

  • When the swelling and itching is severe, it is called "Summer Penile Syndrome".
  • The foreskin can swell so much that you can barely see the head of the penis.
  • The changes can come on very quickly.
  • Cause: a substance that gets on the penis and causes an allergic reaction.
  • Insect bites such as from mosquitoes or chiggers can cause it.
  • Plant chemicals such as from poison ivy or pollens can also cause it.
  • Treatment: no different that more milder rashes. Benadryl for a day may help reduce the swelling.

After Care Advice

Overview:
  • Most new small rashes are due to skin contact with an irritant.
  • If the rash is very itchy, it's usually from an allergic substance.
  • Hand-to-penis contact is normal when passing urine. Therefore, the rash is most likely from something that was on the hands.
  • Most small rashes can be treated at home.
  • Here is some care advice that should help.
Cleansing:
  • Wash the area once with soap to remove any irritants.
  • Then avoid soaps. Reason: Most soaps interfere with healing.
  • Just rinse the area with warm water.
Steroid Cream:
  • For itchy rashes, put 1% hydrocortisone cream on the rash.
  • No prescription is needed.
  • Do this 2 times per day for a few days.
Antibiotic Ointment:
  • For any cuts, sores or scabs that look infected, put on an antibiotic ointment.
  • No prescription is needed.
  • Use 2 times per day until seen.
Try Not to Scratch:
  • Help your child not to scratch.
  • Cut the fingernails short.
Prevention of Recurrent Rashes:
  • Teach your son to wash his hands if they are dirty.
  • Have him wash his hands before touching his penis.
What to Expect:
  • Small rashes from irritants should go away in 2 or 3 days with treatment.
  • Severe swelling and redness may take a week to resolve.

Author: Barton Schmitt MD, FAAP
Copyright 2000-2020 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC
Disclaimer: This health information is for educational purposes only. You the reader assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.
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