Worried about a sore burning sensation on the tip of your penis?

We identify the most common causes for pain on the tip of your penis and what to do about them.

Sore penis symptoms, causes and treatments
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Some penis problems are perfectly common, while other issues can be a little more out of the ordinary. If you’re experiencing a sore burning sensation at the tip of your penis, there could be a number of potential reasons for this. Some of these are no cause for concern – such as your shower gel – while others, like infections, can be more serious.

We speak to Bekki Pickerill, Nurse Manager at Brook and Dr Riccardo Di Cuffa, GP and founder of Your Doctor about the most common causes for penis pain and what to do about them:

What causes a burning sensation on the tip of your penis?

A number of factors could lead to a sore, burning sensation on the tip of your penis. We've outlined the most common culprits:

✔️ Sexually transmitted infections (STI)

If you have a sore burning sensation on the tip of your penis, there is a possibility that this pain could be linked to a sexually transmitted infection (STI), says Pickerill. ‘Gonorrhoea and chlamydia in particular may give these symptoms of a sore burning sensation on the tip of the penis, whilst genital herpes can cause stinging, tingling or itching and trichomoniasis can cause itching, swelling and soreness of the penis.’

According to Pickerill, it’s really important to remember that STIs often have no symptoms, particularly in the early stages. ‘The only way to prevent the spreading of infections is to use condoms for any type of intercourse – vaginal and oral.’

If you’re sexually active and think you might have an STI, visit your GP or sexual health clinic to get tested as soon as possible. Luckily most STIs are treatable.



✔️ Infection of the lower urinary tract

A urine infection may be another possible cause. ‘In addition to penis pain, you may experience a burning sensation when urinating, have a frequent urge to urinate even when your bladder is empty or have blood in your urine,’ explains Dr Di Cuffa. Your GP will usually prescribe antibiotics to treat a UTI.

✔️ Balanitis

Balanitis is a skin irritation on the head of the penis. If you don’t wash your penis every day a cheesy-looking substance called smegma can build up, says Dr Di Cuffa. ‘It can start to smell, prevent foreskin movement and cause redness, swelling, soreness, itching and inflammation of the head of your penis.

If you think you might have an STI, visit your GP or sexual health clinic to get tested as soon as possible.

And Pickerill adds, ‘It’s not an STI but can be caused by STIs, thrush and a skin condition, such as psoriasis.’

Fortunately, balanitis can be treated easily once the cause has been identified. Antibiotics can clear up a bacterial infection, while anti-fungal treatment can help if it’s caused by thrush.



✔️ Skin irritation

The sore burning sensation could even be caused by the cleaning products you use, such as soap and shower gels. Washing your penis every day with warm water is important to maintain good hygiene – but if you want to use soap, Dr Di Cuffa recommends using a mild or non-perfumed soap or shower gel to wash the area.

✔️ Urethritis

‘Urethritis is a soreness and swelling of the urethra,’ says Pickerill. ‘It can cause pain and burning when urinating, discharge and soreness of the tip of the penis.'

Washing your penis every day with warm water is important to maintain good hygiene.

'Urethritis is one of the most common conditions that men are diagnosed with at sexual health clinics in the UK. It is not an STI but can be caused by one,’ she says.

It is generally treated with a short course of antibiotics – which will kill the bacteria that caused the infection.



✔️ Friction burns from sex and masturbation

Friction burns from sex and masturbation can cause sensitivity and soreness. ‘These symptoms will ease with time and when you take a break from sex and masturbation,’ says Pickerill. She recommends using lubrication, which will alleviate the unwelcome symptoms in the future. She adds, ‘Just remember you should never use oil-based lubricants with condoms, as they increase the risk of the condom breaking.’

Other conditions causing penis pain

Other conditions that can cause penis pain include Peyronie's disease, which occurs when scar tissue creates a build-up on your penis, and phimosis, when the foreskin tightens so much that it is too tight to pull back.

Although there are no bones in the penis, you can get a penile fracture, which causes it to tear

‘Although there are no bones in the penis, you can get something called a penile fracture, which occurs when an erect penis is bent, causing it to tear,’ says Dr Di Cuffa.

‘Priapism is a prolonged erection without any sexual stimulation and can be very painful. Pain in the penis can sometimes be a symptom of penile cancer, but it’s much more likely to be as a result of something else,’ he says.



When should you see your GP?

If symptoms persist, make an appointment with your GP or local sexual health clinic. ‘This type of pain on your penis could be a cause for concern,’ says Dr Di Cuffa, ‘particularly if it occurs during an erection, is preventing urination or making urination painful, or if you have discharge, sores, redness, or swelling.’

‘If the pain doesn’t go away within 24 hours, it’s always best to make an appointment with your GP. If you think there’s any sort of blockage, blood or severe pain, see your GP immediately,’ he adds.

Sexual health services

Contact your local sexual health clinic on the details below, or speak to your GP.

  • Find a sexual health clinic near you.
  • Find contraceptive services near you.
  • Call the National Sexual Health Line 0300 123 7123.
  • Call Worth Talking About on 0300 123 2930 (for under-18s).


    Last updated: 08-10-19

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