An Overview of Male Yeast Infections

Yeast infections are often seen as a female health issue, and when people think of yeast infections, they are usually thinking about the fungus that causes vaginal candidiasis in the female vagina. While the cases of men getting yeast infections are less common, anyone can get a yeast infection regardless of gender or age. In most cases, yeast infections go away on their own or within a few days with treatment.

Yeast infections in men affect the penis and are called candidal balanitis or balanitis thrush. These yeasts tend to affect the top part of the penis. In uncircumcised males, yeast may also affect the foreskin and is called candidal balanoposthitis.

Candida yeasts are responsible for up to 35 percent of all the cases of balanitis according to one report in the journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews. Yeast infections in men have not been studied enough and researchers are unsure how many men are affected yearly.

Causes and Risk Factors

Many men will contract a yeast infection from sexual contact with their affected female partner, as women are more susceptible to yeast infections. While the infection can be transmitted through sex, it is not a sexually transmitted disease because men can get the infection without being sexually active. 

Other causes and potential risk factors for male yeast infections include:

  • Poor hygiene
  • Being uncircumcised
  • Having diabetes, as men with diabetes have higher amount of sugar in their urine, which may promote the growth of yeasts
  • Prolonged use of antibiotics, which lower probiotic counts, allowing for the growth of candida
  • Weakened immune systems due to illness and chronic health conditions, which allows candida to spread
  • Using soaps and skin products that irritate skin
  • Wearing tight-fitting underwear or wet clothing
  • Condoms that contain lubricants
  • Using spermicides
  • Hot, humid environments
  • Being overweight

Symptoms

Unlike yeast infections in women, men generally don’t experience symptoms. However, once symptoms do appear, they can cause extreme discomfort and pain.  

Symptoms of yeast infections in men include:

  • Burning with urination (dysuria)
  • Sores on the foreskin of the penis
  • Irritation and itchiness
  • White, lumpy, foul-smelling discharge
  • Discomfort during sexual intercourse
  • Redness and inflammation at the top of the penis
  • Small rash like bumps that may contain pus
  • Patches of white, shiny skin at the top of the penis

When to See a Doctor

Untreated and serious yeast infections of the penis could potentially cause problems with the prostate. 

Men who have never had a yeast infection or who have severe symptoms should be medically checked out. It is also important to see a doctor when an infection does not clear on its own and to rule out other problems, including diabetes and other conditions that cause a weakened immune system.

If a yeast infection is severe, a swab from around the top part of the penis or foreskin is done and sent to a lab for testing. If sores do not heal, a biopsy might be needed.

Treatment and Prevention

Most mild yeast infections will not require treatment. Antifungal creams or oral medications can help manage symptoms. These medications are available over-the-counter (OTC) or with a doctor’s prescription. Men who have not been previously treated for a yeast infection should see a doctor before treating themselves with OTC anti-fungal medications for the first time.

Good hygiene can help prevent yeast infections and even treat them. It is a good idea to wash the penis regularly with plain warm water, avoiding shower gels and soaps, and drying well after. Men should never use perfumed shower gels or soaps on their genitals. Wearing loose-fitting cotton underwear or boxers and keeping genitals dry and cool at all times can also prevent yeast growth.

A Word From Verywell

Male yeast infections are uncommon. But they do affect men and are both uncomfortable and embarrassing. Understanding what causes these infections and their symptoms can help with prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.  

Prolonged and severe symptoms should be brought to the attention of a doctor. If both partners have symptoms of a yeast infection, it is important for both to be treated so they can avoid re-infecting each other.

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