Scrotal swelling

ADAM Health 3 minute read November 4, 2019

Alternative names: Swelling of the scrotum; Testicular enlargement

Definition: Scrotal swelling is abnormal enlargement of the scrotum. This is the name for the sac surrounding the testicles.


Considerations

Scrotal swelling can occur in males at any age. The swelling can be on one or both sides, and there may be pain. The testicles and penis may or may not be involved.

In testicular torsion, the testicle becomes twisted in the scrotum and loses its blood supply. It is a serious emergency. If this twisting is not relieved quickly, the testicle may be permanently lost. This condition is extremely painful. Call 911 or see your health care provider immediately. Losing blood supply for just a few hours can cause tissue death and the loss of a testicle.


Causes

Causes of scrotal swelling include:


Home Care

Things you can do to help this problem include:

  • Apply ice packs to the scrotum for the first 24 hours, followed by sitz baths to decrease swelling.
  • Elevate scrotum by placing a rolled up towel between your legs. It will help relieve pain and swelling.
  • Wear a loose-fitting athletic supporter for daily activities.
  • Avoid excessive activity until the swelling disappears.


When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if:

  • You notice any unexplained scrotal swelling.
  • The swelling is painful.
  • You have a testicle lump.


What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your provider will perform a physical exam and take a medical history, which may include the following questions:

  • When did the swelling develop? Did it come on suddenly? Is it getting worse?
  • How big is the swelling (try to describe in terms such as “twice normal size” or “the size of a golf ball”)?
  • Does the swelling appear to be fluid? Can you feel tissue in the swollen area?
  • Is the swelling in one part of the scrotum or in the entire scrotum?
  • Is the swelling the same on both sides (sometimes a swollen scrotum is actually an enlarged testicle, a testicular lump or a swollen duct)?
  • Have you had surgery, injury or trauma in the genital area?
  • Have you had a recent genital infection?
  • Does the swelling go down after you rest in bed?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • Is there any pain in the area around the scrotum?

The physical exam will most likely include a detailed exam of the scrotum, testicles and penis. The combination of a physical exam and history will determine whether you need any tests.

Your provider may prescribe antibiotics and pain medicines or recommend surgery. A scrotal ultrasound may be done to find where the swelling is occurring.

References

Elder JS. Disorders and anomalies of the scrotal contents. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 545.

Germann CA, Holmes JA. Selected urologic disorders. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 89.

Kryger JV. Acute and chronic scrotal swelling. In: Kliegman RM, Lye SP, Bordini BJ, Toth H, Basel D, eds. Nelson Pediatric Symptom-Based Diagnosis. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 21.

Palmer LS, Palmer JS. Management of abnormalities of the external genitalia in boys. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 146.

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