Most yeast infections are caused by and overgrowth of the normally harmless skin fungus Candida albicans. Previously thought to be exclusive only to females, yeast infections can also affect male genitals (usually the penis’ head), albeit much less than females.
Penile yeast infections can cause painful and sometimes embarrassing symptoms leading to serious complications if left untreated.
How It Happens?
The skin is populated by various bacteria and fungi, all of which exist in harmony without causing any damage. However, when this balance is disturbed due to external or internal factors, some bacteria die out, resulting in others occupying their place; in this case, Candida.
The fungus then produces structures (hyphae) that penetrate skin tissue, causing irritation and a yeast infection. However, some yeast infections can also be external bacteria and viruses, like the streptococcus bacteria (strep throat and pneumonia) and herpes simplex, or human papillomavirus.
Penile yeast infections are commonly transmitted during unprotected sex with a woman already infected with a vaginal yeast infection. However, they are not classified under STIs as they are just as likely to self-develop on the penis’ skin.
Penile yeast infections can also result from regularly wearing tight-fitting fitting undergarments and prolonged exposure to a hot and humid environment, which increases moisture and allows the fungi to spread. Poor personal hygiene can also cause an infection.
A penile yeast infection is commonly identified by:
- Red rash
- Moist penile skin
- White, shiny patches on the penis
- Pain during urination and intercourse
- Itching and burning that worsens after intercourse
- Small, possibly pus-filled rash-like bumps (papules)
- A thick white substance under the foreskin or other folds of the penis
- Some men with diabetes may experience more severe symptoms like fluid buildup, penis ulcers, and fissuring (split or crack resulting in a narrow opening) of the foreskin.
Sometimes, a yeast infection may also affect the foreskin (candidal balanoposthitis), which often results in:
- An unpleasant foreskin odor
- Difficulty pulling back foreskin
- A thick, lumpy discharge under the foreskin
- Difficulty achieving and/or maintaining an erection
Sexual intercourse with a possibly infected partner presents the greatest risk of contraction. However, several other factors are just as likely to increase the risk of developing a penile yeast infection:
- Being uncircumcised, which provides an ideal moist and dark environment for yeast growth.
- Infrequent bathing and improper cleaning of genitals. In fact, lack of circumcision and poor hygiene combined result in smegma build-up, i.e. a cheesy-looking, smelly, and irritation-causing substance.
- Washing the penis with irritating perfumed shower gels and soaps.
- Prolonged use of broad-spectrum antibiotics, which kills good bacteria and promotes yeast growth.
- Diabetes and/or obesity.
- A weakened immune system due to high dose chemo- or radiotherapy, or HIV treatment.
- Using a CVC (Central Venous Catheter) for taking medication.
- Using spermicides or lubricating condoms.
Infections that are treated early on and respond well to antifungal medication, the primary treatment for a penile yeast infection, and generally resolve within a week. However, you and your partner will both have to be treated, regardless of whether or not they are infected.
However, penile yeast infections in circumcised men that are not caused by either sexual contact or personal hygiene may indicate an underlying condition like diabetes. In which case, separate treatment for the condition is also required, and the infection may also recur.
Since the symptoms of a penile yeast infection are similar to those of most STIs, contact your doctor for a proper diagnosis instead of self-treating or outright ignoring.
You can also book an appointment with a top Urologist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your urinogenital concerns.