Ballanitis Xerotica Obliterans (BXO, Lichen Sclerosus, sometimes sclerosis)

These names sound awful. They're painless, but they are awful. They are all names for the same thing.

White skin patches on the penis, looking soft, but feeling hard, are the main symptoms of this painless ailment. It seems to be associated with vitiligo (loss of pigmentation on the skin, often the face - Look at Michael Jackson!)

No-one can tell you what causes it. A virus is blamed. It likes damp places. It has nothing to do with whether you are circumcised or not. It just happens. It often arrives after damage, sometimes surgical damage. Or it may not arrive at all.

Often the glans is involved. Rhinoceros hide forms on it. It begins to look, well, yuck. And sensitivity decreases. It's gradual. So you won't notice it. Not until it's upon you.

Some sources say it is pre-cancerous. I had it. My surgeon says that the jury is out on whether or not it's pre-cancerous, but he prefers to excise it. Cut it out. Because it isn't curable. Just removable.

Advice from a sufferer? See your doctor today. If he hasn't heard of BXO, find the best dick doctor (urologist) you can who is also a plastic surgeon, and get referred to him. And treat it as urgent. Because it is. If it is pre-cancerous, you could lose your penis.

Information is scarce. The net has very little on the subject. Believe me, I've looked. So make sure you help yourself. Don't be scared of it, because it spreads slowly, but do get it sorted out before it spreads to a bit you can't lose!

Information from Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals Trust, Department of Dermatology:

Lichen Sclerosus (sometimes Sclerosus) is a condition of the male genitalia and is usually confined to the glans penis. It is important to stress that it is not an infectious condition. It is believed to be auto-immune, which means that the body is producing antibodies that react with a bit of itself, in this case with the penile skin. It is not known what triggers this process. The commonest group seen with this are young men, but many older men are seen who have never been treated., and they may have scarring. The disease may present in three ways:

  1. White patches on the glans penis, which may be itchy.
  2. Phimosis, where the foreskin will not retract. This is the commonest medical reason for circumcision in young boys.
  3. Narrowing of the urethral opening at the tip of the penis due to scarring, leading to a poor urine stream or in severe cases, difficulty in passing urine.

If treated early then the scarring and phimosis can be prevented and the white patches will fade. Dermovate ointment should be applied to the affected area twice daily for 3 months. This will help to soften the skin and allow retraction of the foreskin. Only long standing cases will need circumcision or dilatation of the urethra.

Page from the New Zealand Dermatological Society

There is nothing to add to this article. It contains explicit medical pictures. The squeamish may not wish to click the link.