Male Yeast Infection: What You Need to Know

Male yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida on the penis. Candida is normally present on the skin, but overgrowth can occur, particularly in men who are not circumcised, have diabetes, are overweight, or have a weakened immune system.

While some male yeast infections can have no symptoms, others can cause penile discomfort, redness, swelling, and a clumpy, white discharge. Such an infection can be so severe it mimics a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Male yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal medications and typically clear up in a few days.

This article explains male yeast infections, common symptoms, risk factors, and causes. It also details when to see your healthcare provider and what your treatment options are.

Symptoms of a Male Yeast Infection

male yeast infection
Verywell / Gary Ferster

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

An overgrowth of yeast can cause the head of the penis to become red and inflamed. This is known as candidal balanitis. The foreskin may also be infected in uncircumcised men, known as candidal balanoposthitis.

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, because balanitis has other causes besides sex, the condition is not considered a sexually transmitted infection.

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

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.

Diagnosis and treatment are important, as 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

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 and some require a prescription.

Even though you may feel certain that you have a yeast infection and can easily purchase a treatment at your local drugstore, you should still see a healthcare provider before using an antifungal medication for the first time.

Prevention

Good hygiene can help prevent and treat yeast infections. Wash your penis regularly with plain warm water. Be sure to dry well after you wash and put on clean underwear. (Candida thrives in moist, warm environments.)

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

Compared to cases in women, male yeast infections aren't very common. They may cause redness, pain, swelling, itching, sores, and discharge from the tip of the penis.

They often clear up on their own, but sometimes require an OTC or prescription medication. It's best to see a healthcare provider before self-treating if you have never been diagnosed with a yeast infection before or if symptoms worsen.

To prevent a yeast infection, keep your genitals clean, cool, and dry. Avoid products with scents and irritants.

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 due to an overgrowth of the fungus Candida.

  • Is a yeast infection an STD?

    A yeast infection can be passed through sexual contact, but it is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease because it has other possible causes.

  • Can a yeast infection turn into chlamydia?

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

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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  2. Morris BJ, Krieger JN. Penile inflammatory skin disorders and the preventive role of circumcisionInt J Prev Med. 2017;8:32. doi:10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_377_16

  3. Wray AA, Khetarpal S. Balanitis. StatPearls.

  4. Jegadish N, Fernandes SD, Narasimhan M, Ramachandran R. A descriptive study of the clinical and etiological profile of balanoposthitis. J Family Med Prim Care. 2021;10(6):2265-2271. doi:10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_2467_20

  5. Demirci A, Bozlak N, Turkel S. Chronic prostatitis developing due to candida infection: a case diagnosed 20 years later and review of up-to-date literature. Urol Case Rep. 2018;20:88-89. doi:10.1016/j.eucr.2018.07.014

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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.