1. Your favourite soap.
Guys, we know you love your favourite brand of soap. But if you’re using a scented soap, it may be doing you (and Little You) a disservice. “There are fragrances in soaps that can be irritant to skin. Especially the skin on the penis, which is extra sensitive,” says Cohen. “If you notice that these soaps are drying out skin elsewhere, or even just on the penis, switch to a softer, milder, fragrance-free soap to see if that clears up the problem.”
We like Dove Beauty Bar Unscented Soap.
2. Your favourite condom or lube.
You already know that you should always be using a condom during sex if you and your partner haven’t been tested recently. You also already know that if you’re experimenting with anal play, you should also be using lube. But if you have super sensitive skin, you should be careful about the products you use.
“Spermicidal lubes or certain condom materials can have a harsh effect on penis skin,” says Cohen. If you use latex condoms, you may have a latex allergy, which is marked by symptoms like itchiness and red bumps on the penis.
Cohen’s solution? Switch it up. If you find that alcohol-based lubes are bothering you, switch to water-based, and vice versa. If latex is giving you an issue, opt for a non-latex condom; look for ingredients like polyurethane or polyisoprene.
We like Lifestyles’ SKYN Condoms.
3. Excessive masturbation.
OK, let’s get one thing straight: generally speaking, masturbation is great for you, and one-on-one time with your penis is vital to your overall health and happiness.
That said, if you’re doing it really, really, really often (like, say, more than 5-6 times a day for weeks on end), you could be irritating the skin on your member, says Cohen. “If you’re doing it for a longer-than-usual amount of time, masturbation can pull on the skin, cause redness, and sometimes dry it out,” he says.
The solution is simple: take a break. Just put the ol’ boy down for a little bit, let the skin heal, and then get back to business as usual.
4. A common skin problem, like psoriasis or eczema.
Just because the penis stays tucked away for the majority of the day doesn’t make it immune to common skin problems. That means it’s just as susceptible to things like psoriasis and eczema, especially if you’re already prone to these conditions. “It can be common for skin diseases that affect other, more exposed parts of your body to also affect the penis and skin around it,” explains Cohen.
If you also have rashes in the folds of your skin, such as behind your knees and elbows, see a dermatologist to determine a treatment plan that works for you.
5. Your underwear.
Let’s face it — swamp penis is a real thing, particularly in the summer months, when sweat and moisture tend to collect in your bathing suit parts. “Moist and dark places can be ideal environments for some bacteria and fungus, which can lead to odour, itching, and some bothersome skin infections,” Dr. Michael L. Eisenberg, a urologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, explained to MensHealth.com.
If you’re prone to swamp penis and experience chronic irritation, the solution could be as simple as switching to loose-fitting cotton boxers, so you can give yourself some room to breathe down there.
6. A sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Most of the time, a red, itchy penis is nothing to freak out about. But Cohen says “if the skin cracks, bleeds, or is painful,” it may be a sign of HSV-2, or genital herpes. This will typically take the form of sores that can also appear on the testicles, thighs, buttocks, or anus. If you have a sore on your penis that is painful or starts to crust over, you shouldn’t panic: genital herpes is both manageable and more common than you think. But “it’s time to talk to your doctor to have it checked out so that you can be prescribed the appropriate medication to get it cleared up safely and completely,” says Cohen.