A condition called penile candidiasis or penile candidiasis usually affects the glans (glans) and foreskin (foreskin). Symptoms include itching, redness, whitish patches, and bleeding. Antifungal medications are usually prescribed to treat the infection.
Is it possible to get thrush on the penis?
Penile yeast infection is more common in people with an uncircumcised penis. The moist environment under the foreskin creates ideal conditions for fungal growth. People with a circumcised penis are less likely to develop penile yeast infection unless their immune systems are severely weakened.
People with diabetes are also at increased risk for yeast infections, including balanitis (inflammation of the glans penis).
What is a yeast infection
Candidiasis is a term commonly used to describe an infection with a form of yeast called Candida albicans , a ubiquitous fungus found throughout the body in healthy people, including the mouth, gastrointestinal tract, genitals, and skin.
Other types of Candida can also cause thrush, but they are less common.
The immune system can usually hold back the fungus. under control, but when the immune system is weakened , the fungus can grow rapidly and cause an infection called yeast infection.
In people with severely weakened immune systems, such as those with advanced HIV , yeast infection can affect the skin, spread to the esophagus and lungs, and even enter the bloodstream and distant organs.
Causes and risk factors
The true incidence of yeast infection is unknown, in part because many people do not seek treatment until symptoms become severe. However, this condition is considered common.
An earlier study, published in the British Journal of Urology in 1989, reported that 16% of people seeking treatment for penile inflammation and pain at an STD clinic suffered from penile yeast infection.
Although penile yeast infection is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD), the fungus can spread to the penis through sexual intercourse, including oral, vaginal, and anal intercourse.
There are several risk factors for penile yeast infection, including:
Definition of yeast infection of the penis
Candidiasis of the penis is not uncommon, especially in uncircumcised people. When this happens, it may not cause any symptoms (asymptomatic) or it may cause mild symptoms (such as itching) that are easy to ignore.
If penile yeast infection causes symptoms, they most often affect the glans and foreskin of the penis. These symptoms can include:
- Itching, burning, or pain
- Reddened skin with a shiny appearance.
- An irregular rash with white spots, especially in the folds of the skin.
- Ulcers, fissures, or bleeding from the foreskin.
- Unpleasant smelling uneven discharge from under the foreskin.
- Painful urination ( dysuria )
- Pain during sex
How is yeast infection diagnosed?
Penile yeast infection often goes away on its own with little or no treatment. Sometimes, however, the infection can lead to serious complications that require intensive medical attention.
Balanitis is a disease characterized by inflammation of the glans penis and sometimes the foreskin.
Balanitis has many of the characteristics of a yeast infection of the penis, but it tends to be more severe and often causes significant swelling and pain. The swelling can make it difficult to abduct the foreskin.
Invasive and systemic candidiasis
In rare cases, a yeast infection spreads beyond the mouth and genitals to nearby or distant organs. When this happens, it is almost always in people with severely weakened immune systems. Without the means to combat Candida overgrowth, the infection can become invasive.
Invasive candidiasis is a serious condition that can develop in the esophagus and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as in the lungs, skin, and the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum).
If Candida enters the bloodstream, it can cause systemic disease and affect multiple organ systems. A condition called candidemia is one of the most common causes of bloodstream infections in hospitalized patients. The liver, spleen, kidneys, heart and brain are the most affected.
There are conditions or situations that make a person more prone to getting invasive candidiasis and candidemia.
Risk factors include:
Home remedies and other treatments.
Most cases of penile yeast infection are not serious, but they can cause great discomfort and stress. If the infection is mild, home remedies and over-the-counter medications can often help relieve symptoms on their own. More serious infections may require treatment.
There are some home remedies that can help eliminate or reduce the symptoms of penile yeast infection. There is no evidence to support these remedies, but they are still used by people who prefer natural treatments or want to supplement their prescribed therapy.
Here are some of the common home remedies for yeast infection:
- Yogurt : Yogurt is a natural probiotic that can help control Candida overgrowth by increasing the concentration of beneficial bacteria and yeast in affected tissues. A 2015 study published in the Global Journal of Health Science found that topical application of yogurt, honey , and a topical antifungal agent was more effective in relieving symptoms of vaginal yeast infection than the antifungal agent alone.
- Tea tree oil : Tea tree oil is known to have significant antifungal properties. Studies have shown that tea tree oil applied to Candida albicans strains in the laboratory may be more effective in suppressing fungal growth than some of the more widely used antifungal agents. However, in some people, tea tree oil can cause irritation and contact dermatitis .
- Coconut oil : Coconut oil has antifungal properties that can help treat mild yeast infections. A 2016 study published in the journal Scientifica reported that coconut oil applied to samples of Candida albicans in the laboratory was as effective in suppressing fungal growth as the antifungal drug Nizoral (ketoconazole).
- Apple cider vinegar : Apple cider vinegar is an ancient remedy used to treat certain skin infections, including acne . Research has shown that apple cider vinegar can inhibit the growth of Candida in the laboratory, but it is not as effective as some antifungal agents and can cause burning and pain.
In addition to topical treatment, treatment for thrush should include better hygiene, proper nutrition, and ideally, smoking cessation . All of these changes can reduce the risk of yeast infections and the recurrence of infections.
Over the counter drugs
Mild cases of yeast infection can often be treated with many of the same over-the-counter antifungals that are used to treat athlete's foot fungal infections or vaginal yeast infections. Most of these products are applied twice a day and the duration of the treatment does not usually exceed seven days.
There are several over-the-counter antifungal medications that can be used to treat yeast infection:
- Clotrimazole (marketed as generic or under the brand names Lotrimin AF, Monistat, Mycelex, etc.)
- Miconazole (marketed as generic or under the brand names Desenex, Micatin, Ting AF, etc.)
Most antifungal creams are well tolerated and have few, if any, side effects. In rare cases, a topical antifungal agent can cause a skin hypersensitivity reaction.
Do not exceed the recommended dose of an over-the-counter antifungal cream or ointment. If the infection lasts longer than seven days, see your doctor.
For severe or chronic infections, including candidal balanitis, stronger topical antifungals may be prescribed. These treatments may include 2% ketoconazole cream (sold under the brand name Nizoral et al), 1% econazole cream, and nystatin cream or ointment.
In some cases, a combination of a topical antifungal and an oral antifungal is prescribed if the case is severe or resistant to conservative treatments.
Oral antifungal options include:
- Diflucan (fluconazole)
- Spectrazol (econazole)
In some cases, only a single oral dose of the drug is required to clear a localized infection.
Circumcision can help people with recurrent balanitis. Studies have shown that the incidence of balanitis in circumcised people is 68% lower than in uncircumcised people.
In the case of invasive candidiasis and candidaemia, intravenous antifungal drugs in high doses may be required for several weeks. Treatment generally includes the antifungal medications Cancida (Caspofungin), Eraxas (Anidulafungin), or Mikamin (Micafungin) as first-line therapy. Diflucan and amphotericin B (intended only for severe fungal infections) may also be prescribed.