Candidal Balanitis, Yeast Infection in Men – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Updated: Apr 15, 2019
Yeast infections is often thought of as a female health problem, but men aren’t safe from these infections, either.
Yeast infections, or candidiasis, can affect other areas of the body:
A yeast infection of the mouth is called thrush, or oral candidiasis.Infection of the skin (such as the armpits and groin) is called cutaneous candidiasis.
Same infection of the penis – which is inflammation of the head of the penis – is also called candidal (or candida) balanitis, or balanitis thrush.
In this article we focus on a yeast infection in men – a penile yeast infection. They may result from poor hygiene or condomless sex with a partner who has a vaginal yeast infection. Symptoms include redness on the skin and itchiness or burning.
In most cases, yeast infections go away on their own or within a few days with treatment. But not all the time and if so, the complications can be serious, even life-threatening.
What are the signs and symptoms of a yeast infection in men?
Unlike yeast infections in women, men generally don’t experience symptoms. However, once symptoms do appear, they can cause extreme discomfort and pain.
Symptoms may resemble those of other diseases, including some sexually-transmitted infections (STDs), so don’t ignore those symptoms once they appear.
To determine the cause of symptoms men should always be tested. A urologist or your primary care doctor can diagnose the condition, often in a single appointment.
Symptoms of yeast infections in men include:
Discomfort and burning (dysuria) during urinationItching or a burning sensation on the penis
Moist skin on the penis, possibly with areas of a thick, white substance collecting in skin folds
Sores on the foreskin of the penisIrritation, itchiness and pain at the tip of the penis
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
Areas of white, shiny skin at the top of the penis
What causes a penile yeast infection?
Yeast infections in men are common because the fungus that causes yeast infections (candida) is usually present on the body and skin. Candida, a type of yeast, is a normal inhabitant of even the healthiest bodies.
It loves warm, dark, moist places, particularly the gastrointestinal tract and the genital area. The most common species by far is Candida albicans.
Candida normally dwells innocently in these locations, kept in check by the body’s bacterial flora (Lactobacillus bacteriakeeps its growth in check), but, if there’s an imbalance in your system or you have had sex with infected partner, these yeasts can start to overgrow. And a moist environment is ideal for candida to spread.
These overgrowths of yeast like Candida albicans can affect men, as well as women.
Although most experts do not consider yeast infection to be a sexually-transmitted disease, it is possible for an infected woman to spread the infection to her male sex partner.
So, one of the most common causes of a penile yeast infection is unprotected sexual intercourse with a woman who has a vaginal yeast infection.
But men can also develop the yeast infection without being sexually active.
Common causes and potential risk factors for male yeast infections include:
Antibiotic use, 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. If you have an impaired immune system because of cancer treatment, HIV, or another reason, you may also be at a higher risk of a yeast infection.
Frequent sexual intercourse
Having diabetes, as men with diabetes have higher amount of sugar in their urine, which may promote the growth of yeasts
Using soaps and skin products that irritate skin
Wearing tight-fitting undergarments or wet clothing
Condoms that contain lubricants
Any exposure to a hot, humid environments
What is the treatment for yeast infection in men?
Most mild yeast infections will not require treatment and it is not considered necessary unless the man develops symptoms. Even untreated, it often goes away by itself, but it can sometimes spread to the scrotum, inner thighs and buttocks.
Be also aware, that severe penile yeast infection, if not treated, can lead to a wide range of painful, uncomfortable, and potentially embarrassing symptoms. It can also lead to serious complications if the infection spreads into your bloodstream.
Luckily, treatment for men is simple, like for women, is based upon antifungal medications. These may be applied as topical creams or taken by mouth in pill or tablet form.
In most cases those medications used twice a day for between one to three weeks are enough to clear up an infection.
Most of these are available as OTC medications, meaning you will not need a prescription. But men who have not been previously treated for a yeast infection should see a doctor before treating themselves with OTC anti-fungal medications for the first time.
Sometimes yeast infections return after they appear to be cured. If this occurs, your doctor will likely recommend weekly treatments for several months following a couple weeks of daily treatment. More serious, or longer-term infections may require a prescription-strength medication.
If your infection doesn’t respond well to an antifungal ointment and you are uncircumcised, you may be advised to have a circumcision. Though this surgical procedure is typically done on infants, it can be done safely on a man of any age.