How Does a Male Yeast Infection Happen?

Although they can be spread through sex, yeast infections are not  STDs

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Male yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth Candida fungus on the penis. Candida is normally present on the skin, but some people are more likely to have an overgrowth of it that leads to yeast infections.

Men who are not circumcised, have diabetes, are overweight, or have a weak immune system are more likely to get a yeast infection of the penis from Candida.

When the head of the penis is sore and swollen, it’s called balanitis. Sometimes, penis inflammation is caused by yeast (Candida balanitis).

Some male yeast infections have no symptoms. When they do, a male yeast infection can cause penile discomfort, redness, swelling, and a clumpy, white discharge. The symptoms of a male yeast infection can be easy to confuse with those of a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

This article covers male yeast infections, including the symptoms, risk factors, and causes. It will also explain when to see your healthcare provider for treatment for yourself or your partner.

Male Yeast Infection Symptoms: How You Know

male yeast infection
Verywell / Gary Ferster

Male yeast infections do not always cause symptoms right away. If the infection goes untreated, it can cause discomfort and pain.

A male yeast infection may clear up on its own in a few days. If it does not, the symptoms of a male yeast infection may not go away until treatment (such as antibiotics) is finished—which could take a week to 14 days

An overgrowth of yeast can cause the head of the penis to become red and inflamed (candidal balanitis). The foreskin can also get infected in people who are uncircumcised (candidal balanoposthitis).

Symptoms may include:

  • Redness and swelling at the top of the penis
  • Sores, cracked skin, 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

How Do Men Get Yeast Infections?

Yeast can pass from one person to another through sex. That said, balanitis is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and can be caused by things other than sex.

Other risk factors for male yeast infections include:

  • Not keeping genitals clean
  • Not being circumcised
  • Diabetes (people 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 (e.g., 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

How to Get Rid of a Male Yeast Infection

Most mild yeast infections don't need treatment, but some do. If you or a partner has a male yeast infection that's not getting better on its own, there are a few ways to treat it. Some medications are available OTC and others require a prescription from your provider.

Over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal medications will often clear up a male yeast infection in a few days. Antifungal creams or oral medications can also help with symptoms of a male yeast infection. 

Even if you’re sure you have a yeast infection and can buy a treatment at your local drugstore, you should still see a healthcare provider before using an antifungal medication for the first time.

At-Home Treatments for Male Yeast Infections

There are a few natural remedies you can try at home to get rid of a male yeast infection or try to prevent them.

However, most of these treatments were tested on vaginal yeast infections, not yeast infections of the penis. Unless a provider tells you to, do not apply these remedies directly to the skin of your penis.

  • Yogurt. Eating more probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and kimchi can help replenish the helpful bacteria in your body’s microbiome. 
  • Oils. Tea tree oil, coconut oil, and oil of oregano are a few common oils that alternative medicine practitioners suggest for yeast infections because they may have antibacterial properties. You can easily add these oils to your food. 
  • Apple cider vinegar. Like oils, apple cider vinegar is thought to have some antibacterial and antifungal properties. You can have a spoonful of it or add it to some water.
  • Garlic. Taking a garlic supplement might help yeast infections clear up faster, but they haven’t been shown to prevent them. You can either get garlic in a capsule or just include it in your cooking.

Male Yeast Infection: When to Worry

If you’ve never had a yeast infection or you have severe symptoms, see your provider. 

If a male yeast infection does not clear on its own or keeps coming back, that’s also a sign to see your provider. These types of male yeast infections can be a sign of diabetes or conditions that weaken the immune system.

Getting diagnosed is important because untreated male yeast infections can cause inflammation of the prostate gland (chronic prostatitis).

Untreated yeast infections 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

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

How to Prevent a Male Yeast Infection From Coming Back

Good hygiene can help prevent and treat yeast infections since Candida lives to live in moist, warm environments.

Wash your penis regularly with plain warm water. After you wash, dry your penis well and put on clean underwear.

Do not use perfumed shower gels or soaps on your genitals. Wear loose-fitting cotton underwear or boxers to keep your penis dry and cool and prevent yeast growth. 


Male yeast infections are not very common, but they do happen. A male yeast infection can cause redness, pain, swelling, itching, sores, and discharge from the tip of the penis.

A male yeast infection will often clear up on its own. If not, it might require an OTC or prescription medication. It's best to see a healthcare provider before self-treating if you have never had a male yeast infection before or if your symptoms are getting worse.

To prevent a male yeast infection, keep your genitals clean, cool, and dry, and don’t use products with scents and irritants on your penis.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is a male yeast infection the same as jock itch?

    No. Jock itch is caused by a type of fungi known as dermatophytes. Male yeast infections are usually caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida.

  • Is a yeast infection an STD?

    A male yeast infection can be passed through sexual contact, but it is not an STI because there are also causes that aren't related to sexual activity.

  • Can a yeast infection turn into chlamydia?

    No. A yeast infection is caused by a fungus and chlamydia is caused by bacteria. However, it is possible to get a yeast infection after being treated with antibiotics for chlamydia. It is also possible to have both conditions at the same time.

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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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By Lana Barhum
Lana Barhum has been a freelance medical writer since 2009. She shares advice on living well with chronic disease.