The Causes and Symptoms of a Male Yeast Infection

In This Article

Yeast infections are often seen as a female health issue, as vaginal candidiasis is a common problem. While the cases of men getting yeast infections are less common, anyone can get one regardless of gender or age. In most cases, yeast infections go away on their own or within a few days with treatment.

Candidal balanitis or balanitis thrush is the most common type of yeast infection in men. This type of balanitis typically causes inflammation of the tip of the penis. In uncircumcised males, yeast may also affect the foreskin, a condition called candidal balanoposthitis.

Candida yeasts are responsible for up to 35% of all cases of balanitis. But yeast infections in men have not been studied enough and researchers are unsure how many men are affected yearly.

male yeast infection
Verywell / Gary Ferster

Male Yeast Infection 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, with cracking or bleeding of the foreskin
  • 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

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 organisms causing the infection can be transmitted through sex, balanitis is not considered a sexually transmitted infection 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 a 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 the skin
  • Wearing tight-fitting underwear or wet clothing
  • Hot, humid environments
  • Condoms that contain lubricants
  • Using spermicides
  • Being overweight

When to See a Doctor

Untreated and serious yeast infections of the penis could potentially cause chronic prostatitis. Chronic balanitis also can lead to narrowing or tightening of the foreskin (phimosis), narrowing of the urethral opening (meatus), or other changes of the skin (balanitis xerotica obliterates, leukoplakia).

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

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 yeast infection should see a doctor before treating themselves with OTC anti-fungal medications for the first time.

Prevention

Good hygiene can help prevent yeast infections and even treat them. It's 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 may have uncomfortable and painful symptoms. 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's important for both to be treated so they can avoid re-infecting each other.

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Article Sources
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