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Yoxly Awesome Contributors

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Medically Reviewed by:

Dr Danae Maragouthakis

Abrasions from chafing and friction are common and can happen to the skin anywhere on your body – including on the penis. While this may sound alarming, it isn’t usually cause for serious concern. 

In this blog post, we’ll talk about the symptoms and causes of penis friction burns and offer some preventive tips for avoiding this issue.

What Is a Friction Burn?

Friction burns are very common and can happen to skin that has been rubbed very hard or without lubrication. This results in scraping of the skin and heat build-up, which can damage and inflame the top layers of the skin. Friction burns can be painful and may cause visible injury.

Symptoms of a Friction Burn on the Penis

Symptoms of a friction burn on the penis may include:

  • Discomfort or pain
  • Redness or inflammation
  • Visible damage to the skin, e.g., a graze or scrape, bleeding, scabbing, or scarring
  • Swelling

It can be both painful and emotionally stressful if a friction burn occurs on the penis, but such injuries tend not to be serious and heal quickly.

Friction Burns vs. STIs

Pain, swelling, and redness can also be symptoms of certain STIs, which may make identifying a friction burn tricky if you think either may be possible. However, rest assured that a friction burn is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). While both issues can happen as a result of sexual activity, friction burns are not due to transmission of any infection. 

You can read more about the symptoms of STIs on our STI information page.

Causes of Friction Burns on the Penis

Friction burns occur due to excessive friction or friction without enough lubrication. They can occur on the penis due to:

  1. Masturbation
  2. Sexual intercourse
  3. Too-tight clothing
  4. Physical activity resulting in chafing of the penis against clothing

Complications of Friction Burns on the Penis

In the vast majority of people, a friction burn on the penis will heal quickly and will not have any lasting effects. In rare cases, a friction burn can cause:

  • Skin changes: Friction burns, particularly if they are repeated, can leave an area of scarring. This can make the skin appear darker or lighter. 
  • Skin infection: A friction burn can result in an area of broken skin, which can increase the risk of infection. If you notice signs of infection, including increased swelling, redness, pus, or fever, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional.
  • Increased risk of STIs: Unprotected sex with any broken skin can increase the risk of transmission of STIs such as syphilis, hepatitis B, and HIV
  • Change in sensitivity: Friction burns, even when healed, can leave an area of increased or decreased sensitivity. 
  • Sexual problems: Experiencing a friction burn can create anxiety around sex and could contribute to sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction.

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What to Do About a Penis Friction Burn

The good news is that friction burns on the penis heal quickly and usually do not require any specific intervention. Rest and gentle handling are typically all that’s needed for a friction burn to heal on its own within a week. 

Here are a few specific tips for taking care of a friction burn on your penis:

  • Clean the area: Gently clean the penis and genital area with cool or lukewarm water. Avoid using harsh soaps and do not rub the area, including with a washcloth.
  • Pain relief: To alleviate tenderness, try using over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol. You can also apply an ice pack for a few minutes at a time.
  • Give it a rest: Allow the skin of the penis time to heal by avoiding any further friction. It might be a good idea to refrain from masturbation and sexual activity until you have recovered.
  • Loose clothing: Try to wear loose clothing and underwear, and aim for soft, natural fabrics such as cotton. Avoid rough, constrictive, or synthetic fabrics.
  • Moisturise: Keeping the skin in good condition with a mild, unscented emollient designed for use in intimate areas can aid healing.
  • Monitor for signs of infection: Any break to the skin comes with the risk of infection. Be aware of any increasing swelling, redness, discharge, or fever, all of which may indicate infection. If you are concerned about infection, seek advice from a healthcare provider. 

How to Avoid Friction Burns on Your Penis

Friction burns on the genitals are fairly common, as it’s an area that’s often rubbed! There are still ways that you can prevent this from causing friction burns, though. 

Some tips on how to avoid penis friction burns include:

  • Always use lubricant: Use plenty of lubricant during sexual activity, including masturbation. Using an appropriate lubricant reduces the risk of dry skin-on-skin contact, which can lead to abrasions and friction burns. For more information on lubricants, we have a whole article dedicated to all things lube.
  • Condoms: Using a condom that fits correctly and comfortably can reduce the risk of it moving around too much and causing friction. Experiment with different types and fits to find one that suits you.
  • Clothing: Avoid tight clothing that may rub on the genitals. Aim to wear loose-fitting underwear and avoid scratchy materials. 
  • Avoid harsh soaps and chemical products: Soaps, deodorants, colognes, and creams used on the genitals can irritate the delicate skin and increase the likelihood of a friction burn. Use only warm water to clean the genitals.
  • Reduce rubbing motions: Try to switch up your masturbation or sexual habits, and avoid excessive rubbing of any one area of the penis. Try gentler strokes or thrusts, and vary how you touch yourself.
  • Sports protection: If you engage in a lot of physical activity, consider using a groin guard or jock strap to reduce excessive friction of the penis against clothing. 
  • Stop if sex is painful: It’s important to be aware of your body, and if sex (or masturbation) becomes painful, stop or switch up your activity to avoid causing damage to the skin.

Summary: Penis Friction Burns

  • Penis friction burns are common and are caused by excessive rubbing of the skin.
  • Most friction burns do not require any specific treatment and go away on their own.
  • Penis friction burns can be prevented by using lubricant during sexual activity and avoiding excessive rubbing of the genitals.
  • In rare cases, friction burns can become infected or lead to changes to the skin of the penis. 

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