Dry skin on the penis by itself is not usually a sign of a sexually transmitted disease. Most cases of dry skin on the penis respond well to treatment. Home remedies, such as using a natural moisturizer or avoiding harsh soaps, often resolve the problem.
This article explores what causes dry skin on the penis. It also discusses treatment for each cause and the home remedies that might help.
Unlubricated sex or masturbation
Having sex or masturbating for a long time without lubrication can cause friction.
Too much friction may cause the skin to become dry. Using lubricant may increase comfort when a person has sex or masturbates. A range of lubricants is available online.
Avoid lubricants with ingredients such as glycerin or parabens as they may worsen penis skin dryness.
Choosing a water-based lubricant will reduce the chance of further penis skin irritation.
Allergy to latex
If a person is allergic to latex, using latex condoms may lead to dry skin on the penis.
Latex is a natural substance that derives from the sap of rubber trees. People with a latex allergy react to specific proteins that latex contains.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction to latex include:
People with a severe latex allergy may experience anaphylactic shock when they come into contact with latex. If a person goes into anaphylactic shock, call emergency services. If the person has an epinephrine (adrenaline) auto-injector, administer this.
To avoid dry skin on the penis and allergy symptoms, people with latex allergies should use non-latex condoms. Non-latex condoms contain polyurethane or natural membranes that come from lamb’s intestines. There are many non-latex condoms available to buy online.
If a person’s clothes or underwear are too tight, they may chafe the penis and lead to dry skin. Wearing loose or cotton underwear and clothes will also help to avoid further chafing.
To bring relief to chafed skin, use a natural moisturizer, such as coconut oil.
Using soaps that contain harsh chemicals may cause dry skin on the penis. The best way to wash the penis is with warm water and a small amount of mild soap.
If a person does want to use regular soap in this area, they may want to consider using a gentle, natural soap without parabens. Many soaps with no parabens are available to buy online.
Certain laundry detergents that contain harsh chemicals may cause skin dryness. This may affect a person anywhere on their body, including their penis. Choosing natural, non-biological laundry detergents may reduce skin irritation and dryness.
To relieve irritated skin, using a natural moisturizer, such as coconut oil, may help.
Eczema can cause patches of dry skin to develop across the body.
If dry skin on the penis occurs alongside itching or under-skin bumps, it may be a sign of eczema. An irritant, such as those explored above, can cause eczema. Doctors call this type of eczema irritant contact dermatitis.
The two other types of eczema that may lead to dry skin on the penis are atopic eczema and seborrheic dermatitis.
If a person thinks eczema has caused the dry skin on their penis, they should see their doctor. The doctor can diagnose or rule out eczema.
People who already have an eczema diagnosis may use a low-strength topical corticosteroid cream. Applying this carefully to the penis skin may improve symptoms.
It is essential to use corticosteroid creams according to a doctor’s recommendations as they may increase skin thinness. As the skin on the penis is delicate and sensitive, people should take extra care when using topical treatments.
To reduce dryness, a person may want to use a natural moisturizer, such as coconut oil.
Psoriasis is another possible cause of dry skin on the penis. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that frequently affects male genitalia.
Psoriasis patches on the penis are not as scaly as those on other parts of the body. They may look like well-defined, thin white plaques without scales, or they may have a red ring around them.
If a person spots the signs of psoriasis on their penis, they should see their doctor. The doctor can diagnose or rule out psoriasis.
People who already have a psoriasis diagnosis and have plaques on their penis may be able to treat it using the same corticosteroid cream they use on other parts of their body.
The doctor may recommend a medium to high-potency corticosteroid to use in intervals. This means applying the cream for 4 days, then having a 3-day break before reapplying.
Another psoriasis treatment option for the penis is topical vitamin D ointment twice daily.
Should psoriasis plaques on the penis remain after treatment, it is important to go back to the doctor. The doctor can rule out anything more serious.
If a person also has a rash, swelling, or discharge, dry skin on the penis, this may be a sign of a fungal infection.
Two forms of fungal infection affect the penis — jock itch and balanitis.
Jock itch causes a red rash. It spreads over the inner thighs from the penis. The area around the anus and buttocks may also have a rash.
Balanitis is inflammation of the tip of the penis. If a person has balanitis, the head of their penis may appear red and swollen. A yeast infection is a common cause of infectious balanitis.
Both jock itch and balanitis may occur alongside itchy skin. A person with a yeast infection may feel fatigued, although studies are yet to confirm this as a symptom.
People can treat fungal infections with antifungal creams. To prevent them, a person should wash and change their clothes frequently. Wearing loose underwear may also help.
Using natural moisturizers, such as coconut oil, can help prevent dry skin.
Depending on the cause of the dry skin, a person may need to use over-the-counter (OTC) or prescribed topical treatments.
Some home remedies may have complementary uses alongside other treatment. A doctor can provide a person with recommendations on which treatments and home remedies will suit them best.
It is wise to avoid having sex or masturbating until the dry skin has started to heal. Having sex may irritate the penis skin further and slow down the healing process.
Proper hydration is a good way to ensure that the skin gets enough moisture from within. Using natural moisturizers may also reduce dryness.
Coconut oil offers a natural way to reduce skin dryness all over the body, including the penis. People can also use it as a massage oil or natural lubricant. Results of a 2014 study suggest that applying coconut oil may be a more effective atopic dermatitis treatment than mineral oil.
Many coconut oil moisturizers are available to buy online.
However, it is important to note that oils may reduce the effectiveness of condoms.
To prevent dry skin on the penis, it is a good idea to:
- use natural, non-biological washing detergents
- avoid using harsh personal soaps
- wash the penis regularly with warm water and only a small amount of mild soap
- wear cotton clothing and supportive, but not overly tight, underwear
- use lubrication to reduce friction during partnered or solo sex
- keep the skin moisturized
Dry skin on the penis is not typically a sign of a serious condition. Common causes are allergies to chemicals in soap or detergent, too much friction, psoriasis, or eczema.
If a person experiences dry skin on the penis and does not know the cause, they should see their doctor. It is particularly important to see a doctor if dry skin on the penis occurs alongside other symptoms.
Typically, people can treat dry skin on the penis either at home or with OTC topical treatments. Using a natural moisturizer, such as coconut oil, is a simple way to maintain skin health.
Making lifestyle changes may help to prevent dry patches on the penis from coming back. For example, a person can try reducing the use of personal soaps, changing washing detergent, and using lubricant during sex or masturbation.