Male Yeast Infections
What is a male yeast infection?
A yeast infection is a general name for an infection caused by a fungus. Yeast infections can affect many different areas of the body, including the mouth, skin folds, and genitals. A male yeast infection is a fungal infection of the groin, which can include the penis. Jock itch is the common name for this type of male fungal infection.
There are about 200 kinds of fungi that can cause disease in humans. Trichophyton is the most common one that causes jock itch. However, when talking about yeast infections, most people are referring to infections with Candida albicans—or Candida for short. Candida infections affecting the groin are somewhat uncommon in men. They are much more common in women.
Candida is normally present on the skin, along with other microorganisms. Your skin’s environment and your immune system usually keep these microorganisms in balance and in check. When something upsets this balance, a yeast infection can develop. In men, this is most likely to happen if you have diabetes, have a weakened immune system, or have sex with a woman who has a vaginal yeast infection.
One of the main male yeast infection symptoms is swelling and redness of the head of the penis. Balanitis is the medical term for this. You may also notice a thick, white substance in the skin folds on the penis. Balanitis from a yeast infection is more common in uncircumcised men than in those who are circumcised.
Male yeast infection treatment usually consists of over-the-counter topical antifungal creams. Sometimes, a prescription oral antifungal is necessary to clear the infection if topical treatment fails. In uncircumcised men, recurrent or chronic yeast infections can be a reason to consider circumcision.
Male yeast infections rarely lead to serious problems or complications. However, you should contact your doctor if you have symptoms of a yeast infection that don’t improve with a week of treatment or if symptoms return after treatment.
What are the symptoms of a male yeast infection?
Male yeast infection symptoms are the result of irritation from the overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans. Yeast infections can be extremely uncomfortable.
Common symptoms of a male yeast infection
Common symptoms of a male yeast infection include:
- Burning, itching and redness on the penis and groin
- Collections of a thick, white substance in the skin folds on the penis
- Redness and swelling of the head of the penis
- White, shiny patches of skin on the penis
See your doctor if you have these symptoms. Yeast infections in men aren’t as common as female yeast infections and the symptoms may be related to another medical condition. Getting an accurate diagnosis ensures you get the right treatment. If you have a male yeast infection, your doctor may want to run other tests to see if you have an underlying problem, such as diabetes.
What causes a male yeast infection?
Yeast, including Candida, are normally present on the skin and in body cavities, such as the mouth and vagina. The skin flora also contains other microorganisms, including bacteria. In healthy people, the flora remains balanced and the immune system helps keep infections from starting. When something interferes with this normal balance, a yeast infection can develop. Areas with warm, moist skin, such as the groin, are particularly vulnerable to yeast infections.
In most cases, people are referring to an infection with the fungus Candida albicans when they talk about a yeast infection. However, there are other types of fungi that can cause groin infections in males. An infection with Trichophyton is more common in men. Candida infections are more common in women.
What are the risk factors for a male yeast infection?
A number of factors increase the risk of developing a male yeast infection. Risk factors include:
- Being overweight
- Being uncircumcised
- Having diabetes or a weakened immune system
- Having sex with a woman who has a vaginal yeast infection
- Taking long courses of antibiotics
Reducing your risk of a male yeast infection
You may be able to lower your risk of a male yeast infection by:
- Abstaining from sexual intercourse if your partner has a yeast infection
- Controlling chronic medical conditions, including diabetes
- Losing weight if you are overweight
- Practicing proper hygiene, especially if you are not circumcised
There are several steps you can take to keep the groin area healthy and prevent fungal infections, including yeast infections and jock itch. Avoid tight clothing that can rub and cause friction in the groin. Change out of damp or wet underwear, bathing suits, and workout clothes as soon as possible. Dry your groin thoroughly and use a powder, if necessary, to keep it dry throughout the day.
How is a male yeast infection treated?
Male yeast infection treatment consists of antifungal medicines to kill the fungus. Over-the-counter antifungals include clotrimazole (Lotrimin and others) and miconazole (Monistat and others). These are the same products that can treat jock itch, so look for them in the same area of your pharmacy. They are also the same ingredients in vaginal creams for yeast infections. These products will also work on male yeast infections.
Be sure to follow the package instructions for applying over-the-counter yeast infection creams. Finish the entire course of treatment, even if you start to feel better.
See your doctor if your symptoms aren’t improving after a week of treatment or if they return after treatment. Prescription-strength creams or oral medicines may be necessary to clear the infection. Uncircumcised men who have recurrent or chronic problems with yeast infections may need to consider surgery to remove the foreskin.
Good hygiene can help your groin heal and prevent recurrences of male yeast infections. Keeping the area dry during and after treatment will improve your comfort and help you stay healthy.
Male yeast infection home remedy strategies, such as eating yogurt, won’t successfully treat a yeast infection. However, yogurt does contain helpful bacteria. Eating it on a regular basis may help maintain a healthy flora balance in the genitourinary system.
What are the potential complications of a male yeast infection?
In most cases, male yeast infections respond to medication and clear without complications. However, yeast infections often recur in men who are not circumcised. Resistant strains of yeast can also cause problems with recurrence. See your doctor for persistent symptoms or symptoms that return after successfully treating a yeast infection.