Background  Balanitis is defined as inflammation of the glans penis, often involving the prepuce (balanoposthitis). It is a common condition due to a wide variety of causes with infection being the most frequent and several microorganisms reported. The clinical aspect is often non specific. The management of balanoposthitis remains a clinical challenge.

Objective  To evaluate the prevalence of infectious balanitis, its management, clinical features, laboratory procedures and treatment options.

Subjects and methods  One hundred eighteen patients with infectious balanitis were evaluated between 1995 and 2004 and laboratory data were collected.

Results  Balanitis was diagnosed in 219 (10.7%) of the men that have attended the sexually transmitted disease (STD) Clinic. One hundred eighteen (53.9%) had clinically been assumed to suffer from infectious balanitis. In 75 (63.6%) patients the diagnosis was confirmed by culture studies. Candida albicans was isolated from 24 patients. Staphylococcus spp. and groups B and D Streptococci were the most frequently isolated bacteria. All men were uncircumcised. Ninety-one (77.1%) of infectious balanitis patients were treated with antifungal agents. Twelve patients with infectious noncandida balanitis were treated with general antibiotic therapy. Fifty-five (46.6%) patients had a follow-up of 3 to 12 months during which recurrences were registered in 7 (12.7%) patients.

Conclusions  Infectious balanitis was a common condition, affecting 53.9 % of male STD clinic patients in this study. Candida spp. were the most frequently isolated microorganisms. The clinical aspect is of little value in predicting the infectious agent associated with balanoposthitis.