Penile Yeast Infections

How can I tell if I have an infection?

Penile yeast infections can cause a wide range of undesirable symptoms, but can often be treated immediately by OTC (Over The Counter) medications, and a yeast infection can be reduced by taking certain measures, such as practicing good hygiene.

A yeast infection is often thought of as a female health problem, but it can affect anyone. YES, men could get yeast infections similar to their counterparts, the infection can lead to a condition known as balanitis which is the inflammation of the foreskin and glans of the penis. A yeast infection can lead to uncomfortable conditions and if not treated adequately can lead to serious complications if the infection spreads into the bloodstream.

What causes a yeast infection in men and what are the symptoms?

Yeast infections in men are common due to the fungus that causes yeast infections (candida sp) is commonly present on the skin, especially on moist skin. When there is an overgrowth of candida, infections can result. It is usually due to some contributing factors such as having sex with a partner who has a vaginal yeast infection. A moist surface or environment is ideal for candida to spread.  You can also get an infection without sexual activity.

The most common symptoms of a penile yeast infection include:

  • redness, soreness, or swelling of the penis
  • white, shiny patches at the top of the penis
  • small red spots at the top of the penis
  • cracked foreskin
  • thick, white discharge under the foreskin or other folds of skin
  • difficulty pulling back the foreskin
  • itchiness
  • burning sensation during urination
  • pain or discomfort during sex

What other risk factors for developing a yeast infection?

There are several risk factors that increase your odds of having a yeast infection:

  • not cleaning your genital area or bathing regularly
  • having a poor/compromised immune function due to certain medications or health conditions
  • prolonged antibiotics use
  • wearing wet clothing or tight-fitting underwear
  • using skin products or soaps that cause skin irritation
  • having diabetes
  • being uncircumcised
  • obesity

It’s not recommended for anyone to diagnose themselves and start treatment on their own with OTC medications. If symptoms are allowed to persist, complications can become very serious. As the symptoms can be very uncomfortable and serious it is recommended to seek medical advice from your doctor. During the consultation, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and likely examine your genitals for the presence of discharge. If present, swab samples may be taken.

How to treat a yeast infection?

Topical antifungal ointments and creams are adequate to resolve and treat an infection. Some of the anti-fungal creams recommended for a yeast infection include:

  • Miconazole (Lotrimin AF, Cruex, Desenex, Ting Antifungal)
  • Imidazole (Canesten, Selezen)
  • clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF, Anti-Fungal, Cruex, Desenex, Lotrimin AF Ringworm)
  • Most anti-fungal creams are well tolerated and rarely cause any serious side effects.
  • Most of these medications are OTC medications, which means you will be able to purchase them without a prescription. More significant or long-term infections may require prescription-strength medication.
  • Oral fluconazole (Diflucan) and hydrocortisone cream may be advised in serious infections.

Recurrent yeast infection:

Yeast infections can sometimes re-appear after being cured. If this occurs, your doctor will likely recommend a few weeks of daily treatments followed by a few months of weekly treatments.

In certain cases, long term treatment for recurrent yeast infections can last up to 6 months.

If your infection does not respond well to an anti-fungal ointment and you are uncircumcised, you may be advised to have an adult male circumcision to reduce the risk factor of infection.

Diabetes is also a common risk factor for recurrent infections.

What are the complications from yeast infection?

If not treated adequately or ignored,  penile yeast infection can lead to more serious complications such as:


A common complication of yeast infection. Balanitis is the infection and inflammation of the foreskin or penis glans. If balanitis is not adequately treated, scarring of the foreskin can occur.  It can also cause adhesion to the penis. It can be very painful and can cause difficulty with urination.

Invasive candidiasis

Candidemia or invasive candidiasis occurs when the yeast infection enters the bloodstream. It is common in people who wait to receive treatment until the infection has spread beyond the penis. It is also more common in those with weakened immune systems.

Oral antifungal medications may be needed for several weeks. In some cases, the drugs are administered intravenously.

How long can a penile yeast infection last?

If your infection is treated early and responds well to antifungal medication, it can clear up within 7 to 14 days.

If you are sexually active, your partner should also be treated for a yeast infection to avoid passing the infection on to them, or back to you.

If you get recurrent yeast infections and can rule out causes like proper hygiene and sexual contact, consult with a doctor about other possible causes. You may have an underlying health condition, such as diabetes.

How do you prevent a penile yeast infection?

You can prevent a penile yeast infection by avoiding sexual contact with a partner who has a yeast infection.

You should also avoid having sex with anyone while you have an active yeast infection, as you could pass the infection back to your partner. This could cause the two of you to pass an infection back and forth.

To lower the risk of getting a yeast infection or passing one along, do the following:

Wear a condom each time you have sex to help reduce your chances of developing a yeast infection.

Practice good hygiene, and keep your penis and genitals clean and dry.

If you are uncircumcised, clean under the foreskin with soap and water, and return your foreskin to its usual position after you have sexual intercourse.

Take home message

Penile yeast infections are not as common as vaginal yeast infections, but they do occur. They may result from poor hygiene or sex with a partner who has a vaginal yeast infection without using a condom.

Symptoms include small white patches and redness on the skin as well as itchiness or burning. If left untreated, it can also cause other conditions and complications.

Topical antifungal ointments and creams can typically treat the infection and reduce the risk of long-term complications.

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