It's often assumed that thrush is a condition that only affects women, but Candida albicans (thrush) also affects many men across the world, although the symptoms tend to be different. Thrush can develop for many different reasons, but it is fundamentally an infection that develops when the body's natural bacteria becomes disturbed. Although it can be transmitted during sexual activity, thrush is not an STI, which is why it is essential that due care is taken between both partners to ensure neither is infected or reinfected with the fungus.
As a fungus that occurs naturally in the body, candida (or moniliasis) in very small amounts is harmless, but if your body is unable to keep it under control, it can cause a yeast infection. Infections can be uncomfortable, but aren't normally serious, although men are advised to get a doctor's diagnosis the first time they experience symptoms to eliminate the risk of any more serious underlying causes.
The Candida fungus is normally kept under control by the body's immune system but can over-grow as a result of various different factors, causing an infection.
The symptoms of male thrush are slightly different to those experienced by women when they have vaginal thrush and can appear in the groin area or around the tip of the penis, this often develops into something that is known as balanitis.
If thrush (or balanitis) develops in the skin area between the testicles and leg, it will usually start off as a red itchy rash, that later develops spots and small blisters. The skin can then become scaly and produce a white-yellow substance.
Balanitis is often signified by:
If you are afraid that you might have male thrush or balanitis due to the symptoms experienced, then it is essential that you visit your local GP or care physician as soon as possible. This infection is usually easily diagnosed by the identification of inflammation or redness around the glans at the tip and helmet of the penis.
To gather a more thorough, accurate reading and to rule out the possibility of an STI, a doctor or nurse may collect a swab of the infected area (around the foreskin/penis head). These samples are then checked for any signs of thrush and similar infections, but usually due to the visual symptoms of thrush is more easily identifiable in men compared to women.
Similar to women, when looking to prevent thrush from occurring, men should ensure:
Male thrush sometimes goes away on its own, but not always. In this case, effective treatment can provide timely relief from the discomfort. The first point of call for treating penile thrush is fluconazole (also known as Diflucan).
Fluconazole works by breaking down and destroying the protein enzymes that promote the growth of the fungi cells in the affected area, without this the fungi cannot survive and subsides after a while.
Clotrimazole (also known as Canesten) is often available over the counter and can also be used for the treatment of balanitis also. Other beneficial treatments that may help to halt the yeast growth include:
If you are diagnosed with thrush and require effective treatment then you can have a look at our Diflucan page below for more information