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Friction burns can appear on the penis as a result of vigorous rubbing, which may occur during sexual activity or when a person wears very tight fitting clothing. A friction burn happens when contact with another object causes the skin on a body part to rub off.
Friction burns can be very painful, especially on such a sensitive area of the body.
According to the authors of a review paper, it is difficult to determine the prevalence of friction burns on the penis because ethical and psychological reasons often prevent people from reporting injuries to this part of the body.
Read on to learn more about friction burns on the penis and how to treat and prevent them.
A friction burn on the penis will have similar symptoms to those of friction burns on other parts of the body.
It is important to recognize the symptoms of a friction burn on the penis so that a person can distinguish between this injury and other more serious issues, such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The symptoms of a friction burn on the penis include:
- red, swollen skin on the penis
- an area of skin on the penis that may look like a cross between a scrape and heat burn
- pain in the affected area
These symptoms can also occur as a result of other more serious issues. For example, the following conditions can also cause penile pain and redness:
The other symptoms of a more serious health issue may include:
- penile discharge that can be yellow, green, or watery
- itching inside the penis
- painful or swollen testicles
- sores on the penis or testicles
- pain or burning with urination
A person with any of the above symptoms should see their doctor immediately.
Intense rubbing generally causes friction burns. Most friction burns that doctors see in a healthcare setting are due to a road accident.
However, there are other possible causes of a friction burn on the penis, including:
- vigorous masturbation
- intense sexual intercourse
- wearing tight fitting clothing that rubs the penis during exercise
- drying the penis too vigorously with a coarse towel
Friction burns from masturbation and sexual intercourse may be more likely to occur if a person does not use lubrication.
The best way to treat a friction burn is to give the area time to heal without doing the activity that caused the burn to occur. Most minor friction burns should go away on their own in time.
It is possible to treat most friction burns on the penis at home. While a person is waiting for a penile friction burn to heal, they should do the following to help make themselves more comfortable and prevent further irritation to the penis:
- wear loose fitting, breathable clothing in soft fabrics
- avoid the penis coming into contact with coarse materials
- apply moisturizer, aloe, or petroleum jelly to the affected area to protect the skin while it heals
- avoid sex, masturbation, and similar activities until the area heals
If the affected skin starts to ooze or drain pus, a person should make an appointment with their doctor. Pus is a sign of infection, and a topical antibiotic may be necessary to help the affected area heal.
During sexual activity with a partner, using a lubricated condom can help prevent friction burns. Aside from preventing penile friction burns, condoms can also prevent unplanned pregnancy and help keep both partners healthy by reducing the risk of STIs.
Additionally, a person can ask their partner to be gentler or use lubrication during sexual activity.
One of the best ways to prevent friction burns on the penis when masturbating is for the person to be more gentle with themselves. Using a water-based lubricant can also help prevent friction burns. Many forms of water-based lubricant are available to purchase online.
People can take other steps to help reduce skin irritation that can cause friction burns, including:
- Proper hygiene. Keeping the penis clean by washing it daily with gentle soap and warm water can help prevent irritation. It helps to wash underneath the foreskin, the base of the penis, and the testicles every day.
- Gentle and complete drying. After having a shower, be sure to dry the penis thoroughly but gently. Instead of rubbing to dry the penis, pat it dry with a soft towel.
- Wear proper clothing. Avoiding clothes that are too tight and not breathable can help prevent irritation, especially when exercising.
People should also be aware of how other health issues can affect the penis. For example, if a person has diabetes that they find difficult to manage, they may be more at risk of yeast infections that can cause penile irritation. Untreated STIs can also irritate this part of the body.
Friction burns on the penis can be painful. A person can treat most friction burns at home unless the burn becomes infected. If this occurs, they should see a doctor.
The best treatments for friction burns are time and rest from the activity that caused the burn.
A person can help prevent friction burns on the penis by avoiding vigorous sexual activity and not wearing tight fitting clothing, especially when exercising. Good hygiene can also help keep a penis healthy.