When we think of yeast infections, most people assume only women can get them. It is more common in women, but men can get yeast infections too. Anyone can get a yeast infection, regardless of age or sex.
Yeast infection of the male genitalia is often a condition known as balanitis - inflammation of the penis head. In uncircumcised men, the infection can also go on to affect the foreskin - balanoposthitis. Candida, the fungus that causes yeast infection, is part of the normal flora of the human body. It is most prominent on moist skin, which is an ideal environment for candida to spread. When candida overgrows, a yeast infection develops. The overgrowth of the candida fungus usually occurs when there is a contributing factor such as having a female sexual partner who has a vaginal yeast infection. Most cases of yeast infection can resolve spontaneously or with a few days of treatment.
If left untreated or unresolved, balanitis can lead to a wide range of symptoms which can be painful, uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing. In rare cases, if the immune system is compromised, the infection can spread to the bloodstream, leading to critical illness and serious complications. Hence, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of a yeast infection and know how to treat it.
Unlike women, men don’t usually experience symptoms of yeast infections. However, when symptoms do present they are usually painful and cause discomfort.
Symptoms of balanitis include:
A major risk factor is having sexual intercourse with a partner that has a yeast infection. However, there are several other risk factors that can increase your chances of developing balanitis.
Risk factors include:
If a yeast infection is left untreated for a long period of time, it can go on to become a condition called fungal prostatitis.
It is important to go see your doctor or urologist if you notice any symptoms of prostatitis. Symptoms may include painful or frequent urination, lower abdominal or back pain, and cloudy or bloody urine. If you are unable to get an appointment, consider visiting the emergency room. The sooner you are treated, the lower the likelihood of developing complications. Do not try and diagnose yourself as there are many other conditions that present with similar symptoms.
The doctor might examine your penis and run some tests before making a diagnosis. Tests may include a swab of your penis that will be examined under a microscope or cultured to determine the type of fungus that is causing your symptoms.
Most mild yeast infections can resolve on their own and may not require treatment. Topical antifungal creams and ointments, when needed, are often effective enough to clear up a yeast infection.
These medications are available at most pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription. However, it is important to note that if you have not been treated for a yeast infection previously, you should see a doctor before treating yourself.
Recommended antifungal creams for the treatment of balanitis are:
For serious infections, different medications are required which will need a doctor’s prescription. In this scenario, oral fluconazole and hydrocortisone cream are often prescribed.
Antifungal creams do not commonly pose a significant risk of side effects, but you should always look out for any reaction you might have to treatment.
Topical antifungal treatments are one way to treat yeast infections. However, ensuring good hygiene practices is a good way to help prevent yeast infections and in some cases even treat them. Regularly washing your penis with plain warm water, avoiding any forms of perfumed shower gels or soaps can help. Wearing loose-fitting clothing and underwear and keeping the genitals dry and cool at all times is also advisable.