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Friction burns or chafing 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. Penile friction burns may be painful.

A friction burn occurs when contact with another object causes the skin on a body part to rub off. Friction burns can be very painful, especially when they occur on the penis. This is a very 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 body part.

Read on to learn more about friction burns on the penis and how to treat and prevent them.

Friction burn on the penis can appear as an area of red, swollen skin. Share on Pinterest
A friction burn on the penis can appear as an area of flushed, swollen skin.

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 be able to recognize the symptoms of a friction burn on the penis so that a person can distinguish between this injury and more serious health concerns, such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

The symptoms of a friction burn on the penis include:

  • flushed, 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 can also cause penile pain and discoloration:

Some other symptoms of a more serious health issue may include:

  • penile discharge that can be yellow, green, or watery
  • an itching sensation 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 as soon as possible.

Intense rubbing is generally what causes friction burns. Most friction burns that doctors see in a healthcare setting are due to road accidents.

However, there are other possible causes of a friction burn on the penis, including:

  • engaging in vigorous masturbation
  • having intense sexual intercourse
  • wearing tight-fitting clothing that rubs against 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 when people do 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 in the first place. Most minor friction burns should go away on their own with time.

It is possible to treat most penile friction burns at home. While a person is waiting for the burn to heal, they can do the following to help themselves feel more comfortable and to prevent further irritation to the penis:

  • Wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing in soft fabrics.
  • Do not allow the penis to come 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 symptom of infection, and a topical antibiotic may be necessary to help the affected area heal.

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Washing the penis daily can help prevent irritation in the area.

During penetrative sex, using a lubricated condom can help prevent friction burns. As well as preventing penile friction burns, condoms can also help prevent unintended pregnancy and help reduce the chance of transmitting or contracting an STI.

Additionally, a person may wish to ask their partner to be gentler or to use lubrication during sexual activity.

A good way to prevent friction burns on the penis during masturbation is to be gentler. Using a water-based lubricant can also help prevent friction burns. Many forms of water-based lubricant are available to purchase online.

People can also take other steps to help reduce skin irritation that may cause friction burns, such as:

  • Proper hygiene: Keeping the penis clean by washing it daily with gentle soap and warm water can help prevent irritation. It also helps to wash underneath the foreskin, the base of the penis, and the testicles every day.
  • Gentle and complete drying: After taking a shower, be sure to dry the penis thoroughly but gently. Instead of rubbing to dry the penis, try patting it dry with a soft towel.
  • 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 have a higher chance 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. Unless the friction burn becomes infected, they are usually treatable at home. If infection occurs, however, a person should see their doctor.

The best management strategies 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 personal hygiene can also help keep a penis clean and healthy.