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Burning Scrotum Syndrome: What is it and How is it Treated?

written by: AlyssaAst • edited by: dianahardin • updated: 3/31/2011

When a persistent and intense itching and burning sensation is experienced on the scrotum, a syndrome known as burning scrotum syndrome occurs. There are effective treatment options available.

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    Burning scrotum syndrome, more commonly known as scrotum burning sensation or red scrotum syndrome, is a syndrome that results from a burning sensation experienced in the scrotal area. Red scrotum syndrome is generally characterized by a persistent redness of the scrotum that sometimes spreads to the base of the penis. Often, the scrotum has a persistent itching or burning sensation that can lead to peeling of the skin on the scrotum. Scrotum burning sensation can vary in severity and is considered to be a form of erythromelalgia. Erythromelalgia is a disorder characterized by a warmth, redness and burning pain to the extremities.

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    Red Scrotum Syndrome

    Men over 50 years of age commonly suffer from this rare dermatological condition, red scrotum syndrome, but it can affect men of all ages. The pain and burning sensation that is often experienced is described as starting on the scrotum, later radiating to the base of the penis. The burning sensation and itching can vary from very mild to very intense. This syndrome is characterized by its similarities to localized erythromelalgia. The clinical findings and history of the two conditions are very similar.

    The exact cause of red scrotum syndrome remains unknown; however, there are certain factors that are associated with the condition and may play a role in triggering the condition. Certain medical conditions may cause red scrotum syndrome, as well as the use of certain medications. Reports show that prolonged use of topical corticosteroids to the scrotal area may lead to red scrotal syndrome.

    Other factors believed to contribute to red scrotal syndrome include fungal infections, a history of sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) and other dermatological conditions. In some cases, men who received the H1N1 vaccine later developed the condition; however, it’s not believed the vaccine itself caused the redness and itching. Bacterial infections may increase the risk for developing this syndrome as well. Little remains known about the syndrome, including factors that may increase a person’s risk for the dermatological condition.

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    Treatment Options

    There are treatment options available for men with burning scrotum syndrome; however, these treatment options only manage the symptoms and, typically, don’t fully cure the syndrome. Home treatment options for red scrotum syndrome involve the use of hypoallergenic soaps and lotions, anti-fungal creams and proper hygiene. Tannic acid soaks for 3 to 4 days appear to relieve the symptoms associated with the syndrome as well.

    The use of oral doxycycline appears to be one of the most effective courses of treatment for this syndrome. Seven patients studied from 2004 to 2007 used this medication thru an outpatient clinic at the American University of Beirut Medical Center. During the course of treatment, all patients reported an improvement upon using oral doxycycline, with an estimated 50 to 80 percent improvement. Many of these patients reported to have a complete resolution to the burning and itching after 2 to 3 months of use.


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