Often, it’s only when something goes wrong downstairs that a man realizes it’s time to get serious about penis health. One such moment of realization occurs when a man drops his pants to find his penis a different color than when he last saw it. A red penis isn’t necessarily a sign of a serious problem, but it can be. Identifying the cause and finding effective treatment requires making note of any other symptoms that are present, along with potentially relevant behaviors and situational factors that preceded the symptom of redness. The following are common causes to consider:

1) Poor Hygiene: Particularly among uncircumcised men, a lack of proper penis hygiene can lead to redness, along with swelling, itching and a foul odor. The main culprit here is smegma, the penis’s natural lubricant that can begin to build up under the foreskin and cause penis irritation. Treatment involves practicing better hygiene, cleaning thoroughly under the foreskin every day.

2) Contact Dermatitis (Eczema): This condition is simply a reaction of the skin to an irritant or allergen. If a man develops redness of the penis after using a new body wash, laundry soap or latex condom (in the instance of latex allergy), for example, then one of these may have caused the discoloration. If contact dermatitis is at the root of the symptom, a man is also likely to experience dry, inflamed skin. Identifying the offending irritant or allergen, then avoiding further contact with it, is the obvious treatment method. A moisturizing cream may be used to speed up the healing process.

3) Friction: Men who engage in rough sex, very frequent sex and/or vigorous masturbation may simply experience redness due to friction. The treatment? Take it easy! Men with frictional redness need to give themselves a little break. If frictional redness is a frequent occurrence, one should consider using more lubrication during intercourse or masturbation.

4) Yeast Infection (Thrush/Candidiasis): Although more prevalent among women, men can get yeast infections, too. They’re caused by an overgrowth of the bacteria Candida albicans. In men, yeast infections cause redness around the urethra, as well as a lumpy discharge with a foul odor and pain upon urination. While yeast infections can often be taken care of with over-the-counter antifungal creams, it’s not a bad idea to see a doctor when these symptoms present. That’s because they are also the symptoms of some sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which require different forms of treatment.

5) STIs: A man who has had unprotected sex should consider the possibility that an STI is at the root of penis redness. This is especially worth considering if other symptoms are present, such as sores, bumps, painful urination and/or abnormal discharge from the penis. Herpes causes bumps, while syphilis causes a sore. Gonorrhea and chlamydia usually involve painful urination and abnormal penile discharge. Treatments for STIs include antibiotic and antiviral medications. Regular STI testing is an important component of penis health, not to mention overall health.

Keeping the penis clean, avoiding irritants and practicing safe sex are ways to manage and prevent a red penis. Along with the use of gentle soap, men may wish to supplement their treatment and prevention plans with a penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil), specifically designed to moisturize and nourish the skin of the penis. Good ingredients to seek out in a product are:

- Natural moisturizers, such as vitamin E and Shea butter

- Nutrients that maintain and repair cells, such as alpha lipoic acid, vitamin D and vitamin B5

- Nutrients that improve erectile function and sensitivity, including acetyl-L-carnitine and vitamin C

Making a few simple changes is usually enough to restore a man’s penis to its natural color and keep it there.