Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 12/08/2020
“Burn” and “penis” in the same sentence is a clue that we’re talking about something unpleasant.
And yes, friction burn on that part of the body is definitely uncomfortable.
But friction burn on your penis is not typically a severe burn. Instead, luckily, it’s likely sore from too much use, and just needs some rest.
Understanding how you ended up in this situation can help you prevent friction burn in the future.
It can also help you rule out more serious conditions that could warrant a conversation with your healthcare provider.
Friction is the force that occurs when two surfaces rub against each other.
A more common form of friction burn can happen in motorcycle or road accidents, and your skin slides across the pavement, creating “road rash” or a heat burn and abrasion from the friction.
While a friction burn on your penis didn’t likely happen in a motorcycle accident (and thankfully likely isn’t as severe of a burn), the premise is similar.
Prolonged sex or masturbation can result in friction burn. This is especially true if the sex is particularly vigorous or lasts a long time, if you have particularly dry penis skin or even if there’s already 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).
If you’re experiencing penis pain after sex or any kind of penis irritation, you may be suffering from a friction rash. You may wince to visualize it, but the skin of your penis is very sensitive and thin, and a rash on your penis shaft is what happens when that sensitive skin is rubbed raw.
There’s good news. As you're Googling “how to fix a sore penis,” your penis is already healing. Friction burn on your penis isn’t like normal burn injuries. It won’t last but a few days, and there’s no specific treatment involved.
Unless the burn is very severe, you don’t need to seek medical attention. Just give it time. And don’t dive right back into bed with your partner until you’re feeling completely better.
If your friction burn is so severe you develop a blister on your foreskin or torn skin, keep it covered with clean underwear.
Briefs may be most comfortable because there is less of a chance for additional friction.
However, if loose-fitting underwear feel more comfortable, by all means, wear them.
First aid can involve keeping the area clean and dry to prevent an infection.
As the wound heals, you may notice some peeling where the rash was, so, no need to ask, “Why is my penis peeling?” It’s just your skin doing its job.
Preventing friction burn on your penis is quite simple too: use lubrication. Friction burn doesn’t typically happen during oral sex because of the constant lubrication of saliva.
If things feel at all dry during sex, using a water-based lubricant will not only feel better on your penis — it’ll feel better for your partner, too.
If you have problems ejaculating, and finishing becomes frustrating, a healthcare professional may be able to help you.
Delayed ejaculation could be due to stress or medications, but if it’s more than a one-time occurrence, a healthcare professional can advise you on potential medical treatments.
Because sex shouldn’t be frustrating.
The symptoms of a penis friction burn can resemble the symptoms of other, potentially more serious penis problems. If you’re at all 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 — thank you for being safe — 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 can be caused by bacterial or fungal infections, sexually transmitted diseases, diabetes or a latex allergy. It results in swelling and tenderness in the head of the penis, and may also include discharge, itchiness and a rash. In some cases, you may not be able to pull back your foreskin. Balantis can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications.
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.
A friction burn on your penis can feel like a disastrous prognosis, and can happen for a variety of reasons — generally because you’re “using” your penis too much (good for you, bud!).
On some occasions, other factors can contribute to penile irritation — things like certain allergies or skin infections — but luckily, once you rule those out, treating and caring for a friction burn on your penis is generally simple.
And preventing it from happening again is even simpler.
If the above suggestions don’t get you anywhere in the healing process, you should contact your healthcare provider to learn more about what’s going on down there.