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Why do I have dry skin on my penis?


If you’ve ever looked down to see dry or peeling skin on your penis, you’ve probably been a bit concerned. Dry skin can affect any part of the penis, including the foreskin, glans (head), and shaft. It can feel uncomfortable and itchy.

Most people with a penis will experience this at some point in their life but the good news is that often there’s nothing to worry about and most cases can be easily treated at home.

The most common cause of dry skin on the penis is the same for any other part of the body: skin can just get dry. This often gets worse if you use harsh soaps to clean the area as soaps are notorious for drying out the skin. In an area as sensitive as the penis it’s important to use products that are soap-free and you might even need to use a body wash that is free of other chemicals. My advice is to look for products at the chemist that are safe to use with sensitive skin like eczema.

Another common cause of dryness is friction. If you’re having sex or masturbating without enough lubricant little microtears form on the skin of the penis. In order to heal, the skin creates an inflammatory response that can cause dryness. So grab some lube and try practising a more gentle touch.

Some people might also have skin allergies that contribute to their dry skin. This could be due to a detergent you use to wash your undies, or products used directly on the penis including lubricants, latex or lotions. Itching tends to be a big symptom when allergy is at play. Have a think about how often the dry skin on your penis occurs and if you can link it in with a new product that you might need to swap out.

Finally, there are some medical conditions that may be to blame. Psoriasis, eczema and balanitis can all cause dry skin on the penis. People who live with psoriasis or eczema may experience the rash elsewhere so it’s good to consider these affecting the genitals. Balanitis is an inflammation of the head or foreskin of the penis, which become red and inflamed. If you suspect these conditions might be at play, it’s best to check it out with your doctor.

The moral of the story: if you have dry skin on the penis, try some of the home remedies mentioned above. If you’re not getting any benefits or if your symptoms persist or get worse after a few days, check it out with your doctor. A good doctor should make you feel comfortable about discussing these things.

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Dr Rhys Young
Dr Rhys Young

Dr Rhys Young is a General Practitioner who loves all things men's health, sexual health & LGBTQ health. He writes monthly health articles as DocQ for QNews, a magazine that celebrates Australia's LGBTQ Culture. Dr Rhys is also a Senior Lecturer at the University of Queensland and a Medical Educator for GP trainees in Brisbane. 

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