Male Yeast Infection Treatment and Prevention

How you can you get rid of it fast

Yeast infections, though commonly associated with females, can happen in males too. Male yeast infections generally affect the penis and are especially common in men who are uncircumcised.

You can get a penile yeast infection, also known as penile thrush or penile candidiasis, by having condomless sex with someone who has a vaginal yeast infection. Poor hygiene, being overweight, the overuse of antibiotics, and medical conditions like diabetes and HIV can also contribute.

This article details the signs and symptoms of a penile yeast infection and explores the various treatment options. It also offers tips on how to avoid this treatable medical condition.

Male Yeast Infection Symptoms - Illustration by Jessica Olah

Verywell / Jessica Olah

What Is Penile Candidiasis?

The most common cause of penile candidiasis is the fungus Candida albicans. Candida is present in the human body but is usually well controlled by the immune system.

On occasion, however, the fungus can overgrow if the immune system is suppressed or the natural balance of microorganisms on the skin (particularly under the foreskin) is disrupted.

Some people with penile candidiasis have no symptoms. Those that do may experience:

  • Genital itchiness
  • Redness and swelling of the foreskin or head of the penis (balanitis)
  • Trouble pulling back the foreskin
  • Cracking or bleeding of the foreskin
  • White, foul-smelling discharge
  • Small rash-like bumps on the penis, sometimes pus-filled
  • Pain during urination
  • Pain during sex

When balanitis in uncircumcised men is severe, it can lead to the inability to retract the foreskin (phimosis) or the inability to return the foreskin to its normal position (paraphimosis). Paraphimosis is a medical emergency.

Treatment

Penile yeast infections are commonly treated with topical antifungals. These are medicated creams or ointments that you apply to the skin of the penis to kill the fungus. Some are available over the counter while others need a prescription.

Among the topical antifungals your doctor may recommend are:

  • Desenex (miconazole)
  • Lotrimin (clotrimazole)
  • Selezen (imidazole)

These medications are applied to the affected skin and can usually resolve an infection within seven to 21 days. 

If these topical antifungals fail to provide relief or your immune system is compromised, your doctor may prescribe an oral antifungal like Diflucan (fluconazole) for seven to 14 days.

To protect others and give your body a chance to heal, avoid sex until the infection is fully resolved. Having sex with a penile yeast infection may not only transmit the fungus to the vagina but to the anus as well.

Prevention

Obesity is linked to an increased risk of yeast infections in men. Maintaining a healthy weight is one way to reduce the risk. Using condoms during sex also helps.

Proper hygiene can also help. This includes washing the penis and foreskin thoroughly with warm water and drying the area thoroughly. Avoid irritating soaps, deodorizers, or perfumed lotions.

Wear breathable underwear to keep the penis and groin dry.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

It helps to see a doctor if the symptoms are severe or unusual. If the problem is related to a tight foreskin, circumcision may be recommended. 

If you decide to self treat and OTC treatments don't work, or the yeast infection recurs, it’s important to see a doctor for an evaluation.

There may be an underlying cause for the infection, including undiagnosed diabetes, an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), HIV, or penile cancer.

Summary

Penile yeast infections (a.k.a. penile thrush or penile candidiasis) are caused by the overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans. This can lead to redness, swelling, and itching of the penis and foreskin, as well as a foul-smelling discharge and small rash-like bumps. Uncircumcised men are more commonly affected.

Penile yeast infections are usually treated with topical antifungals, though severe cases may require an oral antifungal. Good hygiene, weight loss, and the consistent use of condoms can help reduce your risk of penile thrush.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you tell if a male has a yeast infection?

    Symptoms of a male yeast infection, also known as penile candidiasis, include:

    • Redness and swelling of the penis head or foreskin
    • Itching or burning sensations
    • A soft, whitish, cheesy substance under the foreskin and folds of skin
    • Difficulty pulling the foreskin over the head of the penis
    • Pain with urination or sex
  • Do male yeast infections go away on their own?

    Male yeast infections often go away on their own once the underlying cause is resolved. But, severe cases can sometimes spread to the scrotum, inner thighs, and buttocks if left untreated. That's why it's best not to ignore a yeast infection. Your healthcare provider may recommend an over-the-counter topical treatment to treat the infection.

By Angelica Bottaro
Angelica Bottaro is a professional freelance writer with over 5 years of experience. She has been educated in both psychology and journalism, and her dual education has given her the research and writing skills needed to deliver sound and engaging content in the health space.