The Causes and Symptoms of a Male Yeast Infection

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Yeast infections are often seen as a female health issue. While they are less common in men, they can affect people of any sex or age.

In most cases, yeast infections go away on their own or within a few days with treatment.

Candidal balanitis is the most common type of yeast infection in men. It often causes inflammation of the head of the penis. In people who are not circumcised, yeast may also infect the foreskin. That condition is called candidal balanoposthitis.

This article explains what yeast infections can look and feel like when they affect the penis and genitals. It also provides some tips about when to seek medical care.

male yeast infection
Verywell / Gary Ferster

Symptoms

Male yeast infections don't usually cause symptoms right away. If the infection persists, it can cause discomfort and pain.  

Symptoms may include:

  • Redness and swelling at the top of the penis
  • Sores, cracking, or bleeding on the foreskin
  • Burning sensation when you urinate
  • Itching
  • White, lumpy, foul-smelling discharge
  • Discomfort during sex
  • Small rash-like bumps that may have pus in them
  • Patches of white, shiny skin at the top of the penis

Causes and Risk Factors

Yeast can pass from one person to another through sex. Even so, balanitis is not considered a sexually transmitted infection. That's because you can get it without having sex.

Other risk factors include:

  • Not keeping genitals clean
  • Not being circumcised
  • Diabetes: Men with diabetes have more sugar in their urine, which helps yeast grow
  • Long-term use of antibiotics reduces the healthy bacteria in the body, which allows Candida to grow
  • Weakened immune system from illness, a chronic health condition, or medication
  • Soaps and skin products that irritate the skin
  • Tight-fitting underwear or wet clothing
  • Hot, humid environments
  • Condoms that contain lubricants
  • Spermicides
  • Being overweight

When to See a Doctor

Untreated yeast infections could cause chronic prostatitis, an inflammation of the prostate gland.

They can also lead to:

  • Phimosis or tightening of the foreskin
  • Narrowing of the opening of the urethra
  • Balanitis xerotica obliterans, which causes white, scaly, itchy patches that can lead to scarring
  • Leukoplakia, thickened white patches inside the mouth

Men who have never had a yeast infection or who have severe symptoms should see a doctor. It is also important to see a doctor when an infection does not clear on its own.

Symptoms could be signs of diabetes or conditions that weaken the immune system.

If a yeast infection is severe, a swab from around the top part of the penis may be tested. If sores or red spots on the penis do not heal, a biopsy might be needed to rule out cancer.

Treatment

Most mild yeast infections don't need treatment. 

Antifungal creams or oral medications can help with symptoms. Some of these medications are available over the counter (OTC), and some require a prescription.

If you haven't been treated for a yeast infection before, you should see a doctor before using OTC anti-fungal medications for the first time.

Prevention

Good hygiene can help prevent and treat yeast infections. Wash your penis regularly with plain warm water and be sure to dry well after you wash.

Perfumed shower gels or soaps should never be used on the genitals. It's a good idea to wear loose-fitting cotton underwear or boxers to keep genitals dry and cool. These steps can help prevent yeast growth.

Summary

Yeast infections involving the penis aren't very common. They often clear up on their own, but if symptoms get worse, you could notice redness, pain, swelling, itching, sores, and discharge from the tip of the penis.

Your risk of having a yeast infection is higher if you're not circumcised, if you have diabetes, or if your immune system is weak. Using antibiotics for long periods can raise your risk. So can using condoms with spermicides and lubricants.

To prevent a yeast infection, keep your genitals clean, cool, and dry. Avoid products with scents and irritants. If you do get a yeast infection, you may be able to treat it with OTC creams, but it's important to talk to a doctor first. Proper treatment can keep you from having long-term damage or other health problems.

A Word From Verywell

Male yeast infections are not common. When they happen, the symptoms can be painful. Knowing what causes these infections can help to prevent, diagnose, and treat them.

Seek medical care for severe or long-lasting symptoms. If you and your partner have symptoms, it's important for both of you to be treated so you don't reinfect each other.

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6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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