Scrotal Eczema and Itchy Balls
We often receive many cases of many varieties here at First Derm. A recent concern is one that we have noticed frequently online too.
Quite simply, ‘why is the skin on my balls peeling?’. We appreciate that it is perhaps not the most eloquently put, but it is a good question…
Scrotal Eczema | Scrotal Dermatitis | Lichen Simplex Chronicus (LSC)
Scrotal Eczema, also known as Scrotal Dermatitis, is a common skin condition that affects the scrotum. Characterized by redness, itchiness, and skin peeling, it is a subject of discomfort and concern for many.
It’s a chronic skin condition, which means that it may come and go throughout your life. While the condition is not life-threatening, it can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.
Symptoms of Scrotal Eczema
If you’re asking ‘Why is the skin on my balls peeling’ then more than likely this is because of red, itchy and flaky skin around the scrotum. It could have even gone a step further and you’re suffering from sores, red spots and bleeding. Either way, this is most likely to be scrotal eczema and we can establish 3 – 4 stages for this concern.
Stage 1 – Mild
This is usually an acute form of scrotal eczema. The skin can appear reddened and irritated. You can see a difference in the skin and it will probably itch with a bit of a ting.
Stage 2 – Severe
Stage 2 is defined by the severity and the longevity of the scrotal eczema. This could be the time you notice ‘the skin on my balls is peeling’. It is typically chronic at this stage, meaning that it has not gone away after a number of weeks.
It will be bright red, and scaly and the burning and itching sensation will be far more severe than a mild case.
Stage 3 – Wet
Everything will appear soft and moist. This is a severe form of scrotal eczema. You’re likely to notice a bad smell and painful sores. You may even notice blood vessels that appear to stick out in a spider vein pattern.
In fact, this version of scrotal eczema will have likely spread to the inner thighs and you may notice fluid oozing from the problem areas.
Stage 4 – Swollen
At this stage, the scrotal eczema will have advanced quite severely. It is common for the scrotum to be swollen with fluid and pus oozing from the open wounds. This will be combined with ulcers that smell bad. There is a risk of gangrene at this stage.
By this stage, we really do encourage you to speak to a dermatologist. Our online dermatologists can give you immediate advice which you can then take to your doctor. Remember that eczema is usually treatable over the counter so a check from our board-certified dermatologists may be all you need.
Scrotal Eczema and STD Vulnerability
Scrotal eczema itself does not inherently increase the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). However, there are indirect factors related to the skin condition that might elevate the risk:
- Broken Skin: Eczema can lead to broken or inflamed skin. Open sores or cracks in the skin can potentially provide an easier entry point for infections, including STDs, especially if exposed to an infected partner’s body fluids during sexual activity.
- Increased Sexual Activities without Protection: While this isn’t directly related to eczema, any unprotected sexual activity with an infected partner increases the risk of STDs. If someone has scrotal eczema and engages in sexual activities without using barriers like condoms, the combined factors can elevate the risk.
- Misidentification: There’s a possibility of mistaking another condition for eczema. For instance, some symptoms of herpes or syphilis might be mistaken for eczema. Therefore, if someone assumes they only have eczema and doesn’t get a proper diagnosis, they might unknowingly have and spread an STD.
Could it be something else?
There have been some studies on scrotal eczema that could show signs of other diseases. The most common is syphilis which has been found where scrotal eczema is prominent. However, it is essential to understand that syphilis is a distinct condition from eczema
Our artificial intelligence skin image searcher can actually check you for this with 80% accuracy. This would mean you don’t have to speak to a dermatologist.
However, if you’re asking ‘why the skin on my balls is peeling’ it is unlikely you have reached some of the more severe cases of scrotal eczema. For you, we would recommend a quick check with our dermatologist and addressing some of the causes below.
What Causes Scrotal Eczema
If you believe you’re suffering from one of the stages of scrotal eczema as mentioned above then there are a number of potential causes. Just like many forms of eczema, it could be psychological or even just something simple like the shampoo you’re using.
Stress – The dreaded stress we all suffer at some point frequently manifests itself on our skin. It starts with an itch that you attack (due to your stress) and before you know it you’re suffering from eczema. A vicious cycle that you should consciously try to break.
OTC Drugs – Over-the-counter drugs could also be causing the inflammation. Usually, topical antibacterials are the cause.
Condoms – Many people are allergic to condoms due to various reasons. Check on how you feel after using a condom as this could be the cause.
Heat or Humidity – Thick clothing and tropical conditions are a recipe for scrotal eczema. Try to get some air to the area where possible…
Irritants – Grease, shampoos, and dye in clothing are all linked to eczema across the body nevermind the scrotum
Lack of Zinc – A lack of certain nutrients can cause eczema to flare up, this is sometimes linked to a weakened immune system. Zinc and riboflavin are the two to prioritise.
Genes – Unfortunately for some of us, we’re more likely to have problems with eczema, hay fever, and asthma due to our genetics.
Preventing Scrotal Eczema
While Scrotal Eczema can be treated, prevention is always the best course of action. Some preventive measures include:
- Maintain proper hygiene: Regular cleansing of the scrotal area can help prevent infections that may trigger or worsen eczema.
- Use hypoallergenic personal care products: Products free of fragrances, dyes, and other potential allergens can reduce the risk of skin reactions.
- Wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing: Tight clothing can cause friction and sweat accumulation, both of which can exacerbate eczema symptoms.
- Stay cool: Heat and sweat can worsen eczema. Try to stay in cool environments and avoid activities that cause excessive sweating when possible.
- Eat a balanced diet: Some people find that certain foods trigger their eczema. Keeping a food diary can help identify potential dietary triggers.
Treatment Options for Scrotal Eczema
While the symptoms of Scrotal Eczema can be controlled with appropriate care and treatment, it’s important to know that this condition is long-lasting and may come back from time to time. In general, individuals with Scrotal Eczema can lead normal lives, although they may experience periods when the symptoms become more noticeable. However, if the condition becomes severe or isn’t treated, it could lead to more serious problems like additional bacterial infections, which would need further treatment.
- Krishnan A, Kar S. Scrotal dermatitis – can we consider it as a separate entity? Oman Med J. 2013;28(5):302-305. doi:10.5001/omj.2013.91
- Fisher AA. “Dermatitis from rubber, adhesives and gums. Chapter 10.” In: Fisher AA, ed. Contact Dermatitis. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lea and Febiger; 1973. p.448.
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The Specialist doctor from the University Hospital in Gothenburg, alumnus UC Berkeley. My doctoral dissertation is about Digital Health and I have published 5 scientific articles in teledermatology and artificial intelligence and others.