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Penis Friction Burn: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

10 min read
Penis Friction Burn: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

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A penis friction burn (or penile friction burn) is a sore patch caused by excessive chafing or rubbing of your penis. It's a combination of abrasion and a heat burn, and if you've ever slid down a rope in gym class and felt the heat burn on your hands afterward, you'll know that you don't want that feeling anywhere near your genitals.

Because the skin of your penis is so sensitive, it can be more prone to friction burns than other areas. Though vigorous rubbing during sex or masturbation is a common cause, it can even come from something as simple as exercise or wearing tight underwear.

TLDR Summary

  • A penis friction burn results from excessive chafing or rubbing, causing a sore patch on the penis, similar to burns experienced from sliding down a rope.
  • Common symptoms include redness, swelling, itchiness, pain, and possibly scabby patches on the affected area.
  • Friction burns can be mistaken for other conditions like Balanitis, STIs, allergic reactions, and eczema.
  • Causes include tight clothing, direct rubbing against a surface, or repetitive unlubricated rubbing during sex or masturbation.
  • Treatment involves abstaining from sexual activities, applying moisturizers like aloe vera or petroleum jelly, and wearing loose clothing.
  • Prevention tips: Maintain good genital hygiene, wear comfortable clothing, use adequate lubricant, and be gentle during masturbation.
  • Always consult a doctor to rule out more serious conditions and ensure proper treatment.

How to Identify Penis Friction Burn?

Just like friction burn on any other part of your body, penis friction burn is usually first identified by the uncomfortable and sore feeling that comes as a result of the chafing. Like a heat burn, it will typically appear red and swollen, and also may cause some skin irritation and peeling.

Unfortunately, because so few people report having penile injuries due to shame or embarrassment, it's hard to know how common penis friction burn is among the male population. However, if you notice any friction burns on your genitals, we still recommend that you contact a doctor for a professional medical opinion, even if you find the topic uncomfortable to discuss.

Like a heat burn, it will typically appear red and swollen, and also may cause some skin irritation and peeling.

It's equally as important to be aware of when what you're dealing with is not a friction burn, as other, sometimes more dangerous conditions can lead to similar symptoms. Here are some of the more common ailments that might resemble penis friction burn:

Diagram of the Common Ailments that Resemble Penis Friction Burn


Balanitis is described by the National Library of Medicine as the inflammation of the glans penis - the head of your penis. Though it's most common in uncircumcised men due to difficulties in maintaining hygiene underneath the foreskin, it can also be caused by lesions, allergies, and irritants.

Balanitis is estimated to affect up to 11% of men, so it's a relatively common condition.

Like a friction burn, it usually presents as redness and penile pain, but localised specifically to the head. However, unlike a burn, it can be prevented by maintaining good genital hygiene, and is typically treated by the use of anti-fungal creams.

Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)

Many STIs can present similarly to a penis friction burn, as lots lead to symptoms like redness and soreness on or around the penis. For instance, gonorrhoea in men can cause pain in the head of the penis and a burning sensation when peeing, while genital herpes leads to blisters that burst into painful sores after a period of time.

Many STIs can present similarly to a penis friction burn, as lots lead to symptoms like redness and soreness on or around the penis

It's important to identify whether or not you're dealing with an STI, as they need entirely different treatment to a friction burn, usually requiring oral medication or prescribed creams. It's also vital to establish whether you're dealing with a sexually transmitted infection so that you can contact anyone you've had sexual contact with since your last STI test, in order to ensure that you haven't spread the infection to somebody else.

Allergic Reaction

Like with other parts of your body, an allergic reaction can lead to pain, itching, and redness on your penis and/or scrotum. There are a variety of allergies that can affect your penis specifically - allergies to certain soaps may lead to an inflamed penis, and a latex allergy may present through redness and itching if you've recently worn a latex condom.

Like with other parts of your body, an allergic reaction can lead to pain, itching, and redness on your penis and/or scrotum.

In the case of allergies, prevention is the best treatment; once you're aware of any allergies you have, avoid these substances and try to find substitutes, such as polyurethane condoms.

Eczema on Penis

If you're prone to eczema on other parts of your body, you may find that it develops on your penis or scrotum. Eczema is characterised by red, flaking skin that feels itchy and irritated and that can sometimes weep clear fluid. Unlike an STI, eczema is not contagious, and is treated through moisturizer that, depending on the severity of the affected area, may contain steroids.

Symptoms of Penis Friction Burn

Penis friction burn presents through a variety of symptoms, that you're likely to pick up on both visually and because of the discomfort they cause.

As we've already discussed, if you notice any of these symptoms, it's important to rule out more serious causes before you treat it as a friction burn - talk to a medical professional if you experience any of the following:

Diagram of the Symptoms of Penis Burn

Swelling or inflammation of the penis

One of the most alarming symptoms of penis friction burn can be its appearance; you may notice that an area of your penis is swollen, or red and inflamed. The affected area will depend on where the friction burn has occurred, and can be large or small depending on the size of the burn on the penis.

Itchiness or irritation in the penis

Itchiness on a certain area of your penis is a common symptom of a friction burn. So, if you've found yourself absentmindedly wanting to scratch your penis, it's likely that this is what you might be dealing with!

Pain and discomfort in the penis

As with any kind of burn on your body, you're likely to experience some pain and discomfort with a penis friction burn - again, the level of pain is dependent on the severity of the burn, as well as the sensitivity of your skin.

Scabby patches in the skin around the penis

In the case of a more severe penis friction burn in which the skin has been broken, you may find that you have scabby patches in the affected area. It's important not to pick at these - while they might look unsightly and feel uncomfortable, your body forms these scabs to prevent infection and protect the wound while it heals.

Causes of Penis Friction Burn

There are a few different situations that are likely to cause a penis friction burn, but they're unified by involving sudden or regular rubbing or chafing. A friction burn can therefore develop over a period of time, or it can be caused by an abrupt trauma.

Wearing tight-fitting clothes

If you wear tight fitting clothing every day or for one extended period of time, the small amount of friction caused can accumulate and cause a burn on your penis.

This can occur if your underwear are a size too small or made of a material that irritates your skin - not wearing underwear while wearing tight pants can also cause chafing, particularly if the pants are made from denim or another rough material.

Penis skin rubbing against a surface

As well as over an extended period of time, a burn on the penis can be caused by a sudden trauma, such as accidentally scraping it against a surface. This is likely to be painful in the moment, and it's unlikely that you'll need help in identifying the cause of the burn!

Repetitive rubbing of the unlubricated penis during sex or masturbation

It's easy to get carried away during sex or masturbation, and rubbing your penis faster or harder is one of the ways that we increase the intensity of sexual pleasure. But in some cases, this can lead to penis friction burns - particularly if you aren't using any kind of lubrication.

Treatments for Penis Friction Burn

There are a range of treatments for penis friction burn that can help reduce the soreness and other symptoms, as well as aid the healing process.

Temporarily abstain from sex or masturbation

Whether you have a minor friction burn or a more serious chafe, your doctor will likely recommend that you abstain from sex and masturbation for a certain period of time in order to give the area a chance to heal.

Generally speaking, the worse the burn, the longer you'll have to abstain for; make sure to exercise patience here, as slipping up can lead to an even longer recovery time if you've irritated the area again.

Apply moisturizer (Aloe or petroleum jelly to the affected area)

Keeping the affected area moisturized is one of the best ways to promote healing - the most commonly recommended lubricants are aloe vera gel and petroleum jelly. There are a range of other creams and treatments you can try, but make sure that they're suitable to be put on your genitals first - the last thing you want is to irritate the area further.

Wear loose-fitting clothing

If you have an existing friction burn, tight fitting clothing that rubs against the area can exacerbate the problem and get in the way of the healing process. In other words, this is a great excuse to ditch your skinny jeans and tailored pants for a while and stick to sweatpants and pyjamas when possible.

4 Tips to Prevent Penis Friction Burn

In the case of most health issues, the best defence is a good offence - and actively taking preventative measures to avoid penis friction burns is a far better tactic than treating them after the fact. You can try to practise the following tips to avoid experiencing a friction burn:

Diagram of the Tips to Prevent Penis Friction Burn

1. Maintain Genital Hygiene

Maintaining good genital hygiene is the best way to avoid all kinds of potential irritation, especially if you're uncircumcised. Wash your penis daily in the shower with soap and warm water to keep it clean, and be sure to gently pull back your foreskin and wash underneath if necessary.

2. Wear comfortable clothing

A penis friction burn is often caused by tight-fitting clothing that leads to chafing if worn for a long period of time. If you have a certain pair of underwear that causes you discomfort, ditch them and invest in some that are soft, loose, and made from breathable cotton to reduce friction - your penis will thank you for it.

3. Use adequate lubricant during sex and masturbation

Hands down the best way to prevent friction burn created during sexual activity is by using a sufficient amount of lubricant. Not only does it allow for more vigorous rubbing or thrusting without the creation of a burn, but it also makes it easier for your partner to be penetrated.

The best type of lubricant for you depends on a few different factors, such as the type of sex you'll be having (vaginal, anal, etc.) and any allergies you may be aware of. For instance, silicone lube is more slippery and cushioning, while water based is a good all-rounder that's easy to clean up.

4. Masturbate less vigorously

If a burn on your penis occurred as a result of masturbation, this may be a sign to be a little more gentle on yourself. Whether you get caught up in the moment and tug too hard or intentionally cause yourself pain as a part of kink, it's never worth sustaining injuries that can potentially leave you without sexual gratification for weeks or months on end.

If a burn on your penis occurred as a result of masturbation, this may be a sign to be a little more gentle on yourself

This doesn't mean that masturbation has to be boring, though. If you find it difficult to orgasm without masturbating intensely, you may find toys like automatic masturbators or strokers helpful, as they're designed to be more stimulating without you needing to put in any extra elbow grease.

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How long does it usually take to heal?

The healing process for a friction burn on the penis depends on a few factors, including the severity of the burn and the steps being taken to heal and soothe it. If you find that your friction burn is still present and not healed within a week, you should go back to your doctor to make sure that there's nothing more serious at play.

When should I consult a doctor?

When it comes to your genitals, if you notice anything unusual you should consult a doctor to make sure it's nothing serious and that you're taking the right steps to heal it. Even if you're aware of where the friction burn came from, speaking to a medical professional can confirm its severity and ensure that you're getting the correct advice to make the healing process go smoothly. After all, this isn't an area where you want to be taking any risks!

Should you have sex while it is healing?

Generally speaking, your doctor will likely advise that you abstain from sex if you have a penis friction burn in order to give the irritated area a chance to heal. The period of time will depend on the severity of the burn, but you'll want to wait until you penis is no longer inflamed or irritated. Though it might be difficult, it's important to abstain for as long as the burn is present, or you could risk worsening it and subsequently waiting even longer for your next sex or masturbation session.


If you think you have a penis friction burn, it's important to first rule out any other possibilities that may lead to more serious issues if untreated. Contacting your doctor if you're experiencing any of the symptoms of penis friction burn - redness, irritation, swelling, itchiness - is always the best route to ensure you receive the right treatment.

If you think you have a penis friction burn, it's important to first rule out any other possibilities that may lead to more serious issues if untreated

Penis friction burns can be unpleasant - no one wants their penis to feel irritated, and the lack of sexual activity, while you're healing, can add to the frustration. But abstaining from sex and masturbation is key to your burn healing quickly and effectively, alongside moisturizing the area and avoiding tight clothing.

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