Penile Swelling: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

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Several issues can cause a swollen penis. If you are dealing with penile swelling, you may notice your penis appears irritated and red. In some cases, the area may feel itchy and sore.

Other symptoms may accompany the swelling, such as bumps, a foul odor, or unusual discharge. Sometimes, the symptoms accompanying penis swelling are so bad they make it challenging or impossible to have intercourse or to urinate.

Answering the question, “why is my penis swollen,” is not always easy due to the many potential causes. Because of this, it is smart to pay attention to the other accompanying symptoms. Combined, this information can help your doctor determine the underlying cause of the problem.

Having a swollen penis is considered a medical emergency in some rare cases. If you are dealing with conditions such as paraphimosis or priapism, you should seek immediate care.

Keep reading to learn more about why your penis may be swollen and potential treatments for this issue.

Potential Causes of a Swollen Penis

The causes of a swollen penis are vast. However, some causes are more common than others. Keep reading to learn what these are.

Excess Fluid

Excess fluid can build up in your penis for many reasons and cause general swelling, a swollen meatus, or a swollen ring around the shaft.

One cause of excess fluid is a prolonged erection. In this situation, the penis remains erect, even without any sexual stimulation, staying that way for several hours or longer. Usually, the erection is painful. Normally, blood rushes into the penis to cause an erection during intercourse; however, the blood gets trapped in the penis with priapism. As mentioned above, this is often considered a medical emergency.

Another potential there may be excess fluid in your penis is if the foreskin is rolled back and it gets trapped. If this happens, it will create a tight band and prevent blood drainage. This can result in the tip of the penis swelling. Swelling can also occur if lymphatic fluid gets trapped in the penis because of an abnormality of the drainage system.

A whole-body fluid may cause a swollen penis, as well. Some conditions that can cause this include kidney failure, heart failure, or entire body edema.


Another common cause of penile swelling is balanitis. It is seen when the head of the penis, also called the glans, becomes inflamed.

It’s estimated that three to 11 percent of men will experience balanitis at some point in their life. In most cases, the condition will impact uncircumcised males who do not have good hygiene habits.

If you experience ongoing balanitis, it may be due to immunodeficiency or poorly managed diabetes.

Some of the most common symptoms of this condition include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes in the groin area
  • Redness
  • Smegma (a thick, white discharge beneath the foreskin)
  • Thick, shiny skin
  • Sores
  • Itchiness
  • Painful urination
  • Foul odor

In many situations, the cause of this is an overgrowth of Candida albicans, a type of yeast that naturally occurs in the body. Another common cause of this condition is bacterial because of the Streptococcus species.


If your penis is injured, swelling may occur, as well.

For example, a fracture may occur if your erect penis is injured. If this happens, there is a rupture in one of the chambers that are typically filled with blood. If a fracture occurs, it can cause the loss of erection, swelling, bruising, and pain.

Another common injury that can lead to a swollen penis is friction. Discomfort and swelling may occur after penetrative sexual intercourse. Usually, friction swelling does not have any other symptoms.

Irritant or Allergic Reaction

Contact dermatitis is another common cause of penile swelling. An allergic or nonallergic reaction can occur, which is triggered by various substances. Some of the most common causes of this type of swelling include:

  • Propylene glycol found in lubricants
  • Latex condoms
  • Chlorine
  • Chemicals in lotions or soaps
  • Spermicides

Along with swelling, there could be other symptoms, too. Some of these include:

  • Burning
  • Redness
  • Blisters
  • Itching
  • Bumps
  • Dryness

If you believe you have a sensitivity to something or are allergic to it, you should stop using it immediately.


A sexually transmitted infection may cause penis swelling. Some of the most common that lead to this type of swelling include gonorrhea or chlamydia. You will usually notice other symptoms, too, such as penile discharge, itching, redness, or sores. If your penis is swollen, it may also be due to an infection that is not sexually transmitted.


Inflammation of the urethra, which is called urethritis, can also lead to penile swelling. The urethra is responsible for carrying urine from your bladder and to your penis. It’s estimated that urethritis impacts over four million people each year.

Usually, urethritis results from an STI. Less common causes of this condition include injuries due to a urinary catheter or irritating chemicals.

Some of the other symptoms of this condition include:

  • Painful urination
  • Whitish-yellow discharge
  • Burning when you urinate
  • Increased urge to urinate

Skin Conditions

Skin disorders may cause swelling and inflammation at the head of your penis. Some of the most common include contact dermatitis and psoriasis, which may occur after you use latex condoms if you have a latex allergy. Itchiness and redness may accompany the swelling.

Peyronie’s Disease

If plaque builds up in the penis, under the skin, then you may develop a condition called Peyronie’s disease. It can cause bumps that make your penis bend or curve in an abnormal manner.

Swelling and inflammation is usually the first symptom you will experience. As time passes, the swelling can turn into a hard scar. There are other symptoms of this condition, too, which include:

  • Curved or bent penis
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Painful erections
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Lumps
  • Soft erections

While the specific cause of this condition is still unknown, it is associated with conditions like connective tissue disorder, autoimmune diseases, and penis injuries.

Potential Home Remedies to Deal with a Swollen Penis

If you are dealing with minor cases of penile swelling, some home remedies may provide you with some relief. Some of the home remedies you can try include:

  • Applying a wrapped ice pack to your penis
  • Applying gentle pressure to your penis
  • Soaking in a warm bath
  • Avoid sexual activity
  • Avoid using latex
  • Practice good hygiene

It’s also smart to avoid using harsh soaps or lotions, along with other potentially irritating substances.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Even if emergency care isn’t required, you may need to seek medical evaluation and treatment in some situations. Some of the situations that require you to make an appointment with a doctor include:

  • If you are at risk for an STI
  • If there are penile discharge, bumps, or sores in your genital area
  • If you have issues urinating
  • If the swelling is staying the same or getting worse
  • If you are in pain

You should receive emergency medical care if you notice swelling in other parts of your body, such as your scrotum or legs.

Some of the medical treatments that a doctor can prescribe for a swollen penis include:

  • Diuretic medication
  • Steroid cream
  • Antifungal or antibiotic treatment
  • Circumcision
  • Massage or compression

Treating and Handling a Swollen Penis

If you have a swollen penis, it is a situation you should not and probably cannot ignore. Be sure you take the necessary steps to deal with the issue and make sure it doesn’t get worse.

In many cases, seeking medical attention will be necessary to handle the situation and find the underlying cause of your penile swelling problem. This is often recommended so you can take steps to prevent the issue from reoccurring in the future. Remember, knowing the potential issues of penile swelling can help you know what treatment may be needed.  

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This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.

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