Candidiasis, also known as thrush, candidosis, moniliasis, and oidiomycosis, is a mycosis (fungal infections) caused by Candida albicans, one of the Candida species (all yeast). Candidiasis can occur in various parts of the body, including the male or female genital area. Thrush infections are relatively common in women and men. This article focuses on male thrush (penile yeast infection). Informally, male thrush is known as "jock itch".
Candida naturally exists in several places in the body. When it is normally balanced by good bacteria, the level stays low and causes no problems. However, when this delicate balance is disturbed, the risk of developing a yeast infection rises significantly. The most common yeast infection is vaginal thrush. Male thrush or penile yeast infection is also fairly common.
A male can become infected with thrush if he has sexual intercourse with an infected sexual partner.
Treatment consists of over-the-counter (OTC) anti-fungal creams and ointments. People with a weak immune system may require closer medical supervision.
There is a small risk of complication among patients with compromised immune systems - thecandidiasis might evolve into a more serious case of persistent infection called invasive candidiasis. Infection passes into the bloodstream and starts to spread throughout the body requiring hospitalization.
According to Medilexicon's medical dictionary, Thrush fungus is:
"A fungal species ordinarily a part of humans' normal gastrointestinal flora, which only becomes pathogenic when there is a disturbance in the balance of flora or in an impairment of the host defenses from other causes; resulting disease states may vary from limited to generalized cutaneous or mucocutaneous infections, to severe and fatal systemic disease including endocarditis, septicemia, and meningitis".
Culture of the fungus Candida albicans, which lives in various parts of the body as normal flora. When there is an imbalance, such as when hormonal changes occur, the fungus can multiply, resulting in Candidiasis (yeast infection)
What are the signs and symptoms of male thrush (penile yeast infection)?
A symptom is something the patient experiences, feels and describes, such as an itch or pain, while a sign is something other people can detect as well, such as a rash.
The most common types of thrush in men occur when the infection and inflammation is localized at the head of the penis, known known as the glans penis, (Candida balanitis), or there is a general skin infection (candidal skin infection). Sometimes, male yeast infections may have no signs and symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of Candida balanitis (when the glans penis is affected) may include:
- Spots and red patches on the head of the penis.
- Without treatment, the spots can later grow into small lumps or craters.
- Red skin around the head of the penis.
- The penis (glans) head becomes very itchy and uncomfortable. There is irritation and soreness.
- Swelling of the head of the penis.
- Penile discharge.
- Discomfort or light pain when urinating.
- Thick, lumpy discharge under the foreskin.
- Unpleasant odor.
- Pain during sex.
Skin infection - most candidal skin infections develop in areas of the body where different folds of skin are joined. Signs and symptoms of a skin infection may include:
- A red and painful itchy rash begins to form.
- Small red spots can also develop on the rash.
- The affected skin may start scaling.
- There may be a white or yellow substance (like cottage cheese).
- The skin becomes thick, soft and white.
Skin infection can appear in the following parts of the body:
- Skin between the fingers.
- Skin between the genitals and anus.
- In very overweight people a skin infection can develop in between the rolls of skin.
Possible complication - Invasive candidiasis
There is a risk of complication for people who have a weakened immune system. The Candida fungus can spread into the blood stream.
If the fungus gets into the bloodstream, the infection can then quickly spread throughout the body affecting various organs. This is a concern for people with HIV, type 1 or 2 diabetes, organ transplant recipients taking immunosuppressant medication, cancer patients undergoing high-dose chemotherapy or radiotherapy, patients having a central venous catheter implanted to administer medication, and individuals with kidney failure who undergo regular dialysis.
What are the causes of thrush (yeast infection) in men?
Changes in the immune system - Thrush is caused by the Candida albicans fungus. It is present in different parts of the body and kept under control by the body's immune system and other harmless bacteria. Thrush can develop when that subtle balance is disturbed. This can happen after taking antibiotic treatment or when the immune system is weak. Males with diabetes, those who are HIV-positive, and some other conditions which undermine the immune system have a higher risk of developing yeast infections.
Humidity and moisture - Candida thrives in warm and moist environments. This is why it is essential to dry all body areas after washing and bathing. Circumcised men are less likely to develop genital yeast infections.
Irritated skin - using perfumed shower gels and soaps can irritate the skin on the penis. This makes thrush more likely to develop, because Candida thrives on skin that is already damaged.
Thrush in males is not a serious condition, but it is recommended to seek diagnosis when symptoms appear for the first time. This could be the sign of another undiagnosed condition, such as diabetes or another type of infection.
Initiation sexually transmitted infections have similar signs and symptoms to yeast infections.
What are the treatment options for male thrush?
Anti fungal creams - male thrush is treated with anti-fungal cream. After the first week, the symptoms should have disappeared, but treatment should carry on for up to 5 or 6 days after the symptoms have disappeared to prevent recurrences. When applying the cream, a mild burning sensation can be felt in some cases.
Corticosteroid cream - doctors may prescribe a corticosteroid cream as well if itchiness is particularly severe. Corticosteroids are effective anti-inflammatory drugs. If results are not satisfactory within 14 days, an alternative antifungal medication may be prescribed.
Good personal hygiene - good personal hygiene will help the process of getting rid of the infection. After careful washing using warm water, the affected area must be thoroughly dried - Candida thrives in warm and moist environments. Perfumed shower gels or soaps should be avoided. Loose cotton underwear will help keep the genital area dry and cool.
Remedies you can do at home - the following home remedies may sometimes be effective:
- Apply yogurt, several times a day. The yogurt needs to be 100% natural, with no flavors or added sugar.
- Apply athlete's foot cream. It has the same active ingredients (clotrimazole with strength of 1-2%).
Avoid having sex - during the treatment period, having sex should be avoided; the infection can spread or symptoms may worsen. The use of a condom is recommended during treatment and for a short period after to prevent infection. Partner should also get treatment.
Diet - avoid foods rich in yeast or sugar. Many experts say that foods with a high carbohydratecontent should be avoided too until symptoms have disappeared.
Written by Christian Nordqvist