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“I Have a Friction Burn of the Penis!” - Advice From An Expert
February 5, 2021

“I Have a Friction Burn of the Penis!” - Advice From An Expert

Not every man has ED or other issues with performance in the bedroom. For many men, everything is “working great”. Maybe one evening, you and your partner are feeling extra sassy and you have an epic session in the bedroom (sometimes this happens alone . . . we’ve all been there).


Once your hormone levels settle down, you start to feel some burning. You look at your “star athlete” and  . . . ouch!!! A bedroom injury.


A friction burn of the penis is no fun. Dr. Google has a lot of advice columns but let’s be honest . . . this is important . . . your best buddy is injured . . . you don’t want just any doctor . . . you want an expert.


In this case, the expert is a board-certified urologist. At VirtuCare we are here to help your penis receive the care it deserves. Allow us to guide you through the “what’s” and the “how’s” of a friction burn on the penis so you can get healed up faster and back to getting busy in the bedroom.

What causes a friction burn on the penis?

Friction is the force between two objects rubbing against each other. In this case it’s rubbing of your penis against . . . oh well you know what it’s rubbing against (no judgment). 


If you recall from physics (don’t worry, I didn’t), the amount of friction between two objects is calculated by:


ƒ = uN (neither physics nor friction burns of the penis are fun)

f=  friction

u =  stickiness of two surfaces rubbing

N = force


For those who hate physics and zoned out,  let’s break this down: When things are not slippery (↑u) and you increase the force (↑N), then friction goes up.


Said another way, a vigorous session with your “Johnson”, without enough lube, will lead to a friction burn of the penis. On the flip side, being a little more gentle with your “man” and using more lube will prevent friction burns of the penis.


What is the best lubrication for sexual activity? Saliva and other “natural” lubricants can easily dry out and vary between partners and sexual encounters. Medications and medical conditions can lead to vaginal dryness as well.  


Water-based lubricants seem to be the “lube” of choice for most couples. They rarely irritate the privates, are safe with condoms and prevent friction burns. Some couples might prefer a longer lasting oil-based lubricant. Regardless, it’s OK to use some lube to protect your business.

What are the symptoms of a friction burn of the penis?

You should a suspect a friction burn of the penis if you had vigorous sexual activity with minimal to no lubricant along with the following symptoms:


  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Pain


Imagine “road rash” from a motorcycle or bike accident. Scraped knee meets sunburn. You can expect symptoms almost immediately after the sexual encounter but they may worsen over the next 24 hours. As we’ll see under the treatment section, the symptoms will also resolve with time.

What medical conditions can be confused with a friction burn?

A red, painful penis can occur with several medical conditions. Let’s take a look at their presentation and note the differences from a friction burn of the penis.

Balanitis


This is an infection of the head of the penis and foreskin (ouch). It is most commonly seen in uncircumcised men with diabetes, obesity or poor hygiene. A tight foreskin makes infections of the junk more common. 


Balanitis usually presents with redness, itchiness, pain and swelling as well. Typically symptoms are more limited to behind the foreskin differentiating balanitis from a friction burn. Also the presentation will be delayed or unrelated to sexual activity.


Since most infections are caused by a yeast or bacterial infection you’ll need some prescription medication to get rid of these bugs. Balanitis can occur alone or even after a friction burn of the penis. If redness and pain are worsening or prolonged, seek medical attention for an evaluation.

Phimosis

This is the fancy doctor term for a tight foreskin. Although most men who practice good hygiene have no difficulty with their “turtleneck”, difficulty retracting this extra skin becomes more common with age. The foreskin traps bacteria and dead skin cells underneath it leading to chronic inflammation. Inflammation leads to narrowing and thickening of the foreskin.


A man with phimosis will present with cracks and skin breakdown at the end of the foreskin. As you can imagine this can make sexual activity painful. It can also lead to an infection (balanitis).


Compared to a friction burn of the penis, phimosis is more chronic in nature with a gradual onset.


The curative treatment for balanitis is circumcision (not fun as an adult but effective). Alternatively, a topical steroid ointment applied twice a day can soften and loosen the inflamed foreskin. Ultimately this allows for easier retraction of the “turtleneck” and easier hygiene. 


Herpes (HSV)


This is a nasty little virus that can wreck havoc on your junk. It is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that presents as small painful blisters on the penis. Unlike a friction burn which covers a continuous area, the skin in between the blisters will appear normal.


Treatment of HSV involves antiviral medication medications like valacyclovir or acyclovir. These medications can decrease the length of the disease course as well as recurrences. Unfortunately they won’t cure herpes.


“Remember, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Except for herpes. That shit'll come back with you.” - Sid (Jeffrey Tambor), The Hangover

Latex allergy

An allergy to latex is a real problem. Latex allergies are seen in anywhere from 4.3% to 9.7% of the population. The highest incidence is seen in healthcare workers who are constantly wearing gloves (although many gloves these days are latex free).


Since most condoms contain latex, an allergic reaction on the penis and lady business can occur. The differentiating factor with an allergy is itching. Rarely would someone have systemic symptoms such as wheezing or difficulty breathing.


How do you treat a latex allergy of the penis? Topical steroids (hydrocortisone), antihistamines or oral steroids may be necessary if the itching and redness persist.


Prevention is the best medicine. Using condoms made of polyurethane (best choice) or lambskin (not as effective preventing STIs) will prevent future episodes. Alternatively switch a different form of contraception.


How long does friction burn take to heal? How do I treat a friction burn?


The length of symptoms depends on the severity of the friction burn of the penis. Minor friction burns can resolve within 48-72 hours. More severe friction burns will require:

Patience and rest

Sorry fella but you gotta give your buddy some time to heal. Continued sexual activity, including masturbation, will keep irritating the area. How long do you need a timeout? You’ll know based on appearance and tenderness to touch.


Wearing loose fitting clothes and breathable fabrics will help as well. Any direct contact to the affected area will not feel good.This is not the time to squeeze into your skinny jeans.


The most important recommendation is to be patient. A friction burn of the penis will heal with TLC. If it doesn’t this could be a sign of an infection or something more serious. Seek medical attention if things aren’t getting better after 3-4 days.

Topical ointments

The best time to start applying “more lube” is during the treatment of the friction burn. To be honest, most topical ointments will help the skin heal (e.g. A&D ointment, triple-antibiotic ointment). The power is in the lubrication, not the specific ingredients of the ointment.


The goal is to keep the area well moisturized at least twice a day. A dry friction burn of the penis will hurt more and take longer to heal. Wrapping the penis with some gauze after applying the moisturizer (“the penis mummy”), will feel better and keep the ointment where it belongs.

Closing Thoughts - Friction Burn of the Penis

Any bedroom injury is not fun. All things considered, a friction burn of the penis doesn’t compare in severity to a penile fracture (yes this happens, stay tuned) but it doesn’t make it any less important.

A few days on injured reserve and some moisturizer will get you back in the game in no time. If you feel like you need some further help, and you’re too embarrassed to walk into your local urgent care, then maybe a telemedicine visit can help.

Yes we would need to look at the private area on our video chat. The good news is that no one but our VirtuCare board-certified urologist will see anything using our HIPAA compliant (that means highest quality of privacy) video conferencing platform.

We can provide you with reassurance and make sure nothing else is going on.

We’ll also remind you that next time . . . more lube!