When most people hear the word thrush, they think of a very common yeast infection that affects women. It is true that vaginal thrush is one of the most common infections that women can experience, but in actual fact a thrush infection can also affect men, albeit in a slightly different way. The term thrush actually refers to a range of infections rather than just a single infection. A fungus called Candida albicans is responsible for thrush infections, which is why the medical name for thrush is candidiasis. Candida albicans is a naturally-occurring fungus in the body that can cause infection if certain factors cause it to multiply. It is usually controlled by the immune system.
There are four types of male thrush:
This is a thrush infection that occurs at the head of the penis. This is the most common type of thrush that men experience and is characterised by soreness and irritation of the glans penis. Some men may also notice an accompanying discharge. Treatment usually takes the form of cleaning the penis gently with warm water and some form of emollient rather than soap. Some men may also need to use additional treatments like creams or tablets designed to fight candida infections.
This infection occurs inside the mouth and can affect both men and women. It can cause soreness inside the mouth, along with an unpleasant taste and problems swallowing. Treatment usually takes the form of antifungal medications such as creams, tablets or rinses.
Candidal skin infection
The candida fungus can cause a rash which is easily treatable and not usually considered to be serious. The red rash, which usually develops in skin folds, may be itchy and sore, sometimes causing blisters to occur at the itchy areas. A cream is usually all that is necessary in terms of treatment. Both men and women can experience candidal skin infections.
This is a rare form of thrush but it can be very serious if it occurs and requires medical treatment. It occurs when the candida fungus passes into the bloodstream, where it spreads through the body. Symptoms can include a fever that is not improved by antibiotics. Both men and women can develop invasive candidiasis.
The most common forms of thrush that can affect men are not dangerous and can be cleared up quickly with antifungal medications. Though invasive candidiasis can be dangerous, it is very rare. Candida balanitis is by far the most common type of thrush that men will experience and it is not thought to be dangerous. The thrush skin infection is generally less common but certain people will have an increased susceptibility to it if they are obese, have diabetes or have a weakened immune system.