We typically think of yeast infections as a woman’s health problem. But yeast infections aren’t limited to one sex.
What Is a Yeast Infection?
A yeast infection is the general term for any infection caused by a fungus known as candida. Yeast infections can occur in many parts of the body, including the mouth, genitals, and between folds of skin. Yeast infections are sometimes called thrush. Yeast infections can linger if untreated, but should clear up in one to two weeks with proper medication.
Can Men Get Yeast Infections?
Although vaginal yeast infections are more common, yeast infections in men are not uncommon, as the fungus that causes the infection is present in skin — particularly moist skin. These infections are usually caused by a fungus called candida albicans.
Candida yeast infections in men often develop on the penis. This can cause painful swelling on the head of the penis.
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How Do Men Develop Yeast Infections?
Candida is always present on the skin and in body cavities like the mouth and vagina. It exists in balance with certain bacteria.
A yeast infection can develop when something throws that balance off — such as taking antibiotics for a bacterial infection. Yeast infections are most likely to happen in warm, moist places in the body — including the mouth and genital area.
Yeast infections are sometimes transmitted during unprotected vaginal intercourse.
Men who are obese, have diabetes, or have compromised immune systems are more prone to getting yeast infections.
Risk Factors for Yeast Infections in Men
Some men are more likely to develop yeast infections than others. Risk factors include:
- Having a partner with a yeast infection.
- Having an uncircumcised penis.
- Being obese.
- Using antibiotics.
- Using steroids.
- Having a compromised immune system because of cancer treatment or HIV.
- Having diabetes.
- Practicing poor hygiene.
What Are Symptoms of Yeast Infections in Men?
Penile yeast infection symptoms include:
- Blotchy rash with white patches on the penis.
- Soreness and itchiness.
- Dull red skin.
- Swelling and irritation.
- A lumpy, bad-smelling discharge under the foreskin.
- A tight foreskin that’s difficult to pull back.
- Pain during sex.
- Pain when urinating.
How Can Men Prevent Yeast Infections?
Most yeast infections are minor and clear up quickly with proper treatment. Here’s how to avoid getting a yeast infection:
- Practice good hygiene, especially if you’re not circumcised.
- Wear a condom when having sex.
- Don’t have sex with a partner who has an active yeast infection.
- Keep diabetes under control.
- Lose weight if you need to.
- Avoid tight clothing and underwear.
- Change out of wet clothing (including sweaty workout gear) as soon as possible.
- Dry your penis well after showering or bathing.
How Are Yeast Infections Diagnosed?
A yeast infection should be diagnosed by a health care provider. Schedule an appointment with your doctor if you think you have a yeast infection. Your doctor will discuss your symptoms as well as take a sample of any discharge or infected skin to confirm the diagnosis.
How Are Yeast Infections in Men Treated?
A yeast infection can be worrisome and uncomfortable, but rarely is it a serious condition. Your doctor will recommend medicine that should clear up the infection in 1 to 2 weeks. Over-the-counter antifungal medicines may be all that is required, but a doctor may prescribe miconazole, nystatin, or clotrimazole.
You should avoid having sex until the infection has cleared up so you don’t infect your partner. This also will prevent your partner from passing the infection back to you.
See your primary care doctor or a urologist soon after you notice symptoms. Some signs of a penile yeast infection are like those of sexually transmitted diseases, including genital itchiness, soreness, and redness.
Your doctor will be able to tell the difference.
In rare cases, an untreated yeast infection can progress to a worse condition called invasive candidiasis. Invasive candidiasis happens when the infection enters the bloodstream. It is a serious infection that can affect the heart, brain, bones, and other parts of the body.
In most cases, however, a yeast infection is a relatively minor health problem. You can treat most yeast infections with OTC antifungal ointments and creams. Your doctor can recommend the best one for you.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
NHS, Thrush in Men and Women, Link
Healthgrades, Male Yeast Infections, Link
Urology Care Foundation, What Are Yeast Infections? Link
Medical News Today, How Does Thrush Affect Men? Link
National Organization for Rare Disorders, Candidiasis, Link
NHS Scotland, Thrush in Men, Link
CDC, Invasive Candidiasis, Link
The UPMC Department of Urology offers a wide variety of specialized care for diseases of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs, including erectile dysfunction, kidney stones, urinary incontinence, prostate cancer, and more. We have a multifaceted team of physicians and researchers working together to provide the best care to both children and adults. Our team is nationally renowned for expertise in highly specialized technologies and minimally invasive surgical techniques. To find a provider near you, visit our website.