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…
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, 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
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.
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.
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. 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.
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 is a recipe for scrotal eczema. Try to get some air to the area where possible…
Irritants – Grease, shampoos, 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, hayfever and asthma due to our genetics.
If you recognise a cause in the above then your best course of action is to resolve it. Be it tight and thick clothing or a medication that is causing the dryness you should work to put a stop to whatever is irritating the scrotum.
Reducing stress can be challenging but is worth doing to prevent scrotal eczema as well as many other diseases caused by stress.
First, we would recommend speaking to our dermatologists and then you will probably be advised to use a good quality moisturizer and potentially steroid creams and antihistamines.
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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.