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Friction Burn on Penis? Here’s What to Do

Denise Asafu-Adjei, MD, MPH

Reviewed by Denise Asafu-Adjei, MD, MPH

Written by Geoffrey Whittaker

Published 12/08/2020

Updated 12/12/2023

“Burn” and “penis”: two words no guy wants to hear in the same sentence. Most men are lucky enough to never spill boiling water in their lap, but another type of burn — a friction burn — can still be pretty uncomfortable.

Thankfully, a friction burn on your penis isn’t typically a severe heat burn. Typically, it is sore and superficially irritated from excessive use, and just needs some rest. 

Understanding how friction burn happened to your ahem… affected area… can speed you on your way to recovery without necessitating an awkward penis exam, but there are other potential causes of penile injury that you might want to rule out as well. Let’s start with the roughest part of the conversation: the friction itself. 

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You may wince to visualize it, but the skin of your penis is very sensitive and thin, and a friction burn on your shaft is what happens when that sensitive skin is rubbed.

Friction burns occur when two surfaces (your penis is one, in this case) rub against each other without enough lubrication. This type of burn is technically both a thermal burn and an abrasion — the tissue builds up heat from the friction and causes damage (abrasion) due to excessive skin contact.

Think: a rug burn.

Unless you’re doing some very strange cycling stunts while naked, though, the friction burn penis injury likely comes from prolonged sex or masturbation (or maybe a carpet burn if things got rough). 

This is especially true if the sex is vigorous or lasts a long time, if you have particularly dry penis skin, or if you worsen  a small cut on your penis. 

It can even happen with shorter sexual encounters if you’re not accustomed to regular sexual activity (and the friction is therefore a new experience).

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Friction burn on your penis isn’t like normal burn injuries. Minor friction burns won’t last but a few days, and there’s no specific treatment involved. Those visual signs of a burn — a scab irritable peeling on shaft skin, a friction burn blister — they’ll heal on their own.

Unless the burn is severe, you don’t need to seek medical attention for this specific penile health issue. Instead, give it time and keep the area clean and dry to prevent an infection. And don’t dive right back into bed with your partner until you’re feeling completely better. 

If your friction burn is so severe that you develop a friction burn blister or tear your foreskin, keep it covered with clean, loose-fitting underwear (like briefs or boxers) and contact your healthcare provider. 

As the wound heals, you may notice some peeling where the rash was. That’s perfectly normal, so, no need to ask, “Why is my penis peeling?” It’s just your skin doing its job.

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Everyone heals differently, but for the most part thermal injuries and abrasions that are of the first (superficial skin layer) or second degree level will probably heal in a week or two.

Severe friction burns can take months to show healing progess, and those may also require surgery to replace the skin that was basically burned away entirely. We’re going to guess (hope) that you stopped short of that level of injury.

Worried that your skin isn’t doing its job correctly, or fast enough? That’s a great reason to talk to a healthcare provider.

Keep in mind: the pain from a friction burn penis during an erection is different from a painful erection — a  completely different, but concerning medical condition.

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Now that you’ve winced your way through most of this article, you’re probably wondering how to prevent a friction burn on your penis. The easiest way to never have to Google “Why does my penis burn?” again is to use lubrication.

If things feel dry during sex, using a water-based lubricant will not only feel better on your penis — it’ll feel better for your partner, too. 

Another potential way to prevent these injuries is to address problems that could lead to them. For example, if you have difficulty ejaculating (such as delayed ejaculation, which could be due to stress or medications), and you prolonging a sexual encounter despite dryness and continued rubbing, it could lead to a friction rash. If you have problems ejaculating, and trying to finish becomes frustrating  (and potentially damaging), a healthcare professional may be able to help you. 

Sex shouldn’t be frustrating.

Ruling Out Other Penis Pain Problems 

The symptoms of a penis friction burn can resemble the symptoms of other, potentially more serious penis problems. If you’re unsure of the cause of your irritation, see a healthcare provider to rule out the following: 

  • Latex allergy. If you use latex condoms during sex, the material your condoms are made of could be causing your reaction. A latex allergy can lead to inflammation and itching on the penis.

  • Balanitis. Balanitis looks like swelling and tenderness in the head of the penis, and may also include discharge, itchiness and a rash — kinda like the red, raw flesh of a friction burn. But unlike friction burn, it’s a condition caused by bacterial or fungal infections, diabetes or a latex allergy. Luckily, it’s easily treatable with over-the-counter or prescription medications — talk to a healthcare provider if you have questions.

  • Sexually transmitted infections. There are many sexually transmitted infections that can result in penis discomfort and inflammation. Conditions like syphilis, herpes, and human papillomavirus will also result in small lesions, not typical with a simple friction burn.

  • Thrush. Thrush is a yeast infection, or overgrowth of the fungus known as Candida albicans. It can result in soreness, inflammation, and sometimes a discharge. 

Other potential problems that can make your penis sore include poor hygiene, some types of cancers, skin disorders (like psoriasis) and other allergies. So, if you’re experiencing symptoms that don’t jibe with your understanding of friction burn, you’ll want to talk to a healthcare provider ASAP.

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Friction burns anywhere suck, but penile friction burns may be the actual, absolute worst. We literally can’t say the phrase “penile friction burn” without wincing. If you take anything else away from this article, let it be this:

  • Penile friction burns can be avoided. Prevention is about moderating the “use” of your penis, using lubrication and knowing when to give yourself time to heal.

  • Healing time will vary. A minor burn may recover in just a few days, but if you’ve been really doing some damage (because you’re having just entirely too much sex, you absolute legend) then a week or more of rest could be required.

  • Not everything that looks like a friction burn is a friction burn. Allergies, skin infections and other things may cause similar symptoms to friction burn, so if you’re not sure what’s causing the skin of your penis to become red or raw, it’s a good idea to talk to a healthcare provider.

If the above suggestions don’t get you anywhere in the healing process, you should contact a healthcare provider to learn more about what’s going on down there.

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7 Sources

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  2. R AN, Rafiq NB. Candidiasis. [Updated 2022 Aug 7]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560624/.
  3. Wray AA, Velasquez J, Khetarpal S. Balanitis. [Updated 2022 Jul 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537143/.
  4. Friction blister. DermNet. (n.d.). Retrieved February 14, 2023, from https://dermnetnz.org/topics/friction-blister.
  5. Garcia MR, Leslie SW, Wray AA. Sexually Transmitted Infections. [Updated 2022 Nov 28]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560808/.
  6. Latex allergy. Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America. (2023, January 27). Retrieved February 14, 2023, from https://aafa.org/allergies/types-of-allergies/latex-allergy/.
  7. Shrestha R, Krishan K, Kanchan T. Abrasion. [Updated 2022 Aug 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554465/.
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Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Denise Asafu-Adjei, MD, MPH

Dr. Denise Asafu-Adjei is a trailblazing, dynamic, award-winning urologist and researcher. A proud first generation Ghanaian-American, hailing from Bronx, NY, she graduated from the world-renowned Bronx High School of Science. She went on to attend the esteemed Carnegie Mellon University, earning a Bachelor of Science and Minor in Healthcare Policy and Management. During her college years, she solidified her dedication to medicine and scientific research and developed a strong interest in health policy and broader health system issues. She obtained her M.D. from the University of Michigan Medical School (Go Blue!).

During medical school, she took a year off to obtain a Master’s in Public Health from the prominent Harvard School of Public Health, with a focus on Healthcare Management. Urology proved to be the perfect intersection for her passion for surgery, general love for engaging with people, and unique ability to connect with others on sensitive issues. She completed her urology residency at the distinguished Columbia University Irving Medical Center, becoming the first Black woman to complete this residency in 2020. She joined the ranks of the 2% of Black urologists in the United States. Dr. Denise completed a competitive Fellowship in Andrology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), becoming an expert in male infertility and sexual dysfunction.

Dr. Denise is currently an Assistant Professor of Urology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, where she serves as the Medical Director of Male Reproductive Medicine. She also holds a dual appointment at the Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health.

Dr. Denise strives to utilize her clinical research to help healthcare systems achieve equitable access for patients and high-quality healthcare for male reproductive and sexual dysfunction services. She is also passionate about mentorship and continues to actively mentor medical students and residents. Finally, she seeks to ultimately create and expand urological exchange programs and partnerships in her family’s homeland, Ghana, and other African countries.

Dr. Denise is an active member of various professional organizations and a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She serves on the Alumni Board of Carnegie Mellon University and is on the Medical Advisory Board for Hims & Hers.

Dr. Denise enjoys leisure international travel, golf, musicals, political history, and cooking. She also loves spending time with family and friends.

Publications

  • Nam, C. S., Campbell, K. J., Acquati, C., Bole, R., Adler, A., Collins, D. J., Collins, E., Samplaski, M., Anderson-Bialis, J., Andino, J. J., Asafu-Adjei, D., Gaskins, A. J., Bortoletto, P., Vij, S. C., Orwig, K. E., & Lundy, S. D. (2023). The Deafening Silence of Male Infertility. Urology, S0090-4295(23)00837-3. Advance online publication. https://www.goldjournal.net/article/S0090-4295(23)00837-3/fulltext

  • Khera, M., Langston, J. P., Pollard, M. E., Asafu-Adjei, D., Edwards, N. C., Nitschelm, K. D., Patel, M., & Bhattacharyya, S. K. (2023). Implantable Penile Prosthesis for Erectile Dysfunction: Insurance Coverage in the United States. Urology practice, 10(5), 501–510. https://www.auajournals.org/doi/10.1097/UPJ.0000000000000416

  • Gurayah, A. A., Mohamed, A. I., Rahman, F., Bernstein, A. P., Asafu-Adjei, D., Ezeh, U. C., Willey, B. C., Balumuka, D., Yarholar, L. M., Gosman, A., & Ramasamy, R. (2023). The Revolving Door of Residency: Predictors of Residency Attrition for Urology Matriculants Between 2001 and 2016. Urology, 177, 21–28. https://www.goldjournal.net/article/S0090-4295(23)00309-6/fulltext

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