Balanitis is common in boys who haven't been circumcised, and those who are not yet able to pull back their foreskin.
During childhood and sometimes into puberty, the inner surface of the foreskin is attached to the glans. From about the age of two, the foreskin begins to naturally separate from the glans until it can be pulled back - this is a completely natural process which should not be forced. Most boys can pull back their foreskin by the age of 10, and 95 percent of boys can do this by the age of 17.
Balanitis can be acute, lasting for only a short period of time, or it can be chronic lasting for several weeks, months or longer - the term chronic refers to time, not how serious the condition is. Also, it can be recurrent, which means the condition keeps coming back.
Symptoms of balanitis mainly affect the penis, although they can sometimes affect other parts of the body.
The symptoms of balanitis affecting the penis are:
a red rash at the tip - this may be scaly or ulcerated
pain, tenderness and swelling
itching and discomfort
discharge or pus from underneath the foreskin, which may smell unpleasant
your son may be unable to pull back his foreskin
Other symptoms, affecting the rest of the body, include:
a sore mouth
pain in your son's joints
swollen or painful glands
a rash on another part of your son's body (not just his penis)
your son may feel generally unwell
If your son has any of these symptoms, particularly those affecting his penis, you should take him to see your GP.