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How to Treat a Friction Burn on a Penis

Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
22nd September 2021

In 30 seconds…

Penis friction burn is a sore, red area on the skin of your penis, resulting from intense rubbing. It should heal itself in around a week, but you can aid its recovery by avoiding rubbing the area, practising good hygiene, and using a soothing, fragrance-free moisturiser or gel.

A friction burn is painful no matter where it is on your body. But when you get one on a sensitive area like your penis it can feel especially sore.

In this article, we explore how to treat friction burn on a penis, and also how to tell when that painful, red area might need professional medical attention.

What Does Penis Friction Burn Look Like?

Penis friction burn looks very similar to a friction burn on any other body part. It’s an area of redness on the skin of your penis, resembling something between a graze and a heat burn. It will probably be sore to touch, and the skin might be swollen or tender.

What Can Cause a Friction Burn on Your Penis?

A friction burn is caused when the top layers of skin are scraped off, as a result of the friction of skin rubbing against a surface. Road accidents are a common cause of serious friction burns, particularly for motorcyclists.

A friction burn on your penis, then, happens when the skin of your penis is rubbed too hard against something. It can be the result of intense rubbing during sex or masturbation, or even from drying yourself too vigorously after a shower.

You could also get a friction burn on your penis if you wear tight-fitting clothing during exercise. Tight underwear or shorts can rub up against your penis repeatedly if you’re running or carrying out other physical training, and this may result in a friction burn.

Friction Burn on Penis Treatment

A minor friction burn on your penis should heal itself in a week or so, but there are a few things you can do to help the healing process along:

  • Wear soft, loose-fitting, breathable clothing, preferably in a natural fabric such as cotton
  • Apply a fragrance-free moisturiser, petroleum jelly, or aloe vera to the affected area
  • Avoid sex and masturbation until the area is fully healed.

This should help your skin to recover quickly and prevent the area from becoming infected.

Preventing Friction Burn on Your Penis

There are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of getting a friction burn on your penis.

Sex and Masturbation

When you have sex or masturbate, you can try to handle your penis more gently and ask your partner to do the same. You could also experiment with different ways of masturbating that go beyond rubbing your penis.

Another tip is to use a water-based lubricant or a lubricated condom during sex, as this will reduce friction to your penis. Using a condom during sex will also help prevent transmission of STIs (see below).

Genital Hygiene

Washing your penis carefully every day with a mild cleanser or plain water should keep the skin of your penis in good condition so it will be less prone to becoming irritated. Aim to wash under your foreskin, at the base of your penis, and around your testicles. After washing, dry your penis thoroughly but gently – pat it dry with a towel rather than rubbing it.

Comfortable Clothing

If you wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing, especially during exercise, this should reduce the risk of friction burn.

When Should You See a Doctor About Penis Pain?

A sore, red area on your penis could indicate a health issue. This is more likely to be the case if the redness does not fade after a few days or if you have any other symptoms in your genital area. Medical conditions that can cause pain and redness in your genital area include:

Balanitis

Balanitis is a condition where the head of the penis and the foreskin become sore and irritated. Symptoms of balanitis can include pain and itching around the penis, swelling and redness, fluid build-up, and pain when you urinate.

Good genital hygiene (see above) will help prevent and treat balanitis, but you may also be given a cream or ointment by your doctor.

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Many of the symptoms of balanitis can also be caused by a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia, or herpes. Other signs that you may have an STI include: green or yellow discharge from your penis, lumps on your testicles or penis, or painful and swollen testicles.

It’s important to get treatment for an STI as soon as possible, to avoid long-term health implications. Speak to your GP or attend a GUM clinic for more comprehensive testing and treatment service, as well as the necessary contact tracing procedures. 

Key Takeaways…

A sore, red area caused by a friction burn on your penis should heal itself after a few days. You can help the process along by avoiding anything that will rub and irritate your penis further while it heals, including sex or masturbation, and tight clothing.

If you feel that the soreness on your penis is not caused by a friction burn, or if you have other symptoms in your genital area, don’t hesitate to seek medical advice.

FAQs

How do I know if I have friction burn on my penis?

Friction burn on your penis looks like friction burn anywhere else on your body: it is a patch of sore, red, swollen or tender skin somewhere between a graze and a heat burn.

What causes friction burns on penises?

You can get a friction burn on your penis from a number of things: intense rubbing during masturbation or sex, drying yourself too roughly with your towel after washing, or even wearing too-tight underwear whilst exercising.

How should I treat friction burn on my penis?

Penile friction burn should heal itself in around a week, but you can aid its recovery by wearing loose-fitting underwear made of a natural fabric like cotton, avoiding rubbing the area (no sex or masturbation for a week), and use a soothing, fragrance-free moisturiser or gel.

What if the friction burn doesn’t go away?

If the red, sore area on your penis doesn’t start to fade after a few days, it may be a sign of a more serious medical condition, such as Balanitis or an STI – contact your doctor immediately.

References

  1. A. Agrawal, S.C. Raibagkar, and H.J. Vora (2008). Friction Burns: Epidemiology and Prevention: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3188131/

  2. NHS – Balanitis: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/balanitis/

  3. NHS – Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sexually-transmitted-infections-stis/

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

Further reading

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