Thrush in Men

Can men get thrush?

Yes, thrush is a condition which can affect both men and women, though is much less common in men. The medical term for thrush in men is 'candidal balanitis'.

Causes and symptoms of thrush in men

As with vaginal thrush, the cause of thrush in men is an overgrowth of a yeast-like fungus, Candida albicans. This fungus is naturally found on the skin of healthy people, however, when the natural balance of the skin flora is disturbed, the fungus can multiply excessively triggering the typical signs of the infection. 

In men, thrush usually affects the head of the penis, with symptoms being similar to those of vaginal thrush:

  • First, the affected skin reddens. The inside of the foreskin can also swell
  • After a few days, itching can begin, often accompanied by a burning sensation which becomes stronger when passing urine or during sexual intercourse
  • Sometimes, a white discharge which looks like cottage cheese can be observed under the foreskin. There may also be an unpleasant smell in some cases
  • Difficulty in pulling back the foreskin is another frequent symptom

Who is vulnerable to male thrush?

Not every man who comes in contact with vaginal thrush will be affected by thrush himself; as thrush is not a sexually transmitted infection.

There are two groups who are particularly vulnerable:

  • Men with a foreskin constriction
  • Men with a weakened immune system.

The fungus Candida albicans, which occurs naturally in the body of healthy individuals, tends to multiply in warm and moist conditions, which is why genital thrush is much less common in men than in women; it does not  usually reproduce well on the glans (head of the penis).

However, if the foreskin is narrowed, the fungi can encounter favourable conditions to multiply. In addition, the foreskin constriction makes cleaning more difficult. That is why thrush is less common among  circumcised men.

As listed above, those people with weak immune responses can be particularly affected by yeast fungi, with men suffering from diabetes being at higher risk due to the levels of glucose associated with diabetes encouraging the fungus to breed.

You may also be more prone to thrush if you’ve just finished a course of antibiotics.

Treatment of male thrush

Penile thrush can be effectively treated with over-the-counter medication such as: clotrimazole based creams, including Canesten Thrush External Cream, fluconazole based oral capsules, like Canesten Thrush Oral Capsule or our unique combination product Canesten Thrush Duo which both calms the itch and clears the thrush infection.

Additional prevention tips

  • You can help prevent thrush by cleaning your penis regularly and using a condom while being intimate with your partner (if they have thrush)
  • Avoid using aggressive perfumed soaps or shower gels on your genitals, as they can cause irritation. Make sure you dry your penis properly after washing
  • Wearing loose-fitting cotton underwear can help prevent moisture building up under your foreskin, which lowers the chances of the candida fungus multiplying

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