Yeast Infections in Men: Is it Possible?
The Big Question: Can Men Get Yeast Infection?
While yeast infections are often seen as a strictly female health issue, everyone can get a yeast infection, including men. These cases are much less frequent than the most common vaginal yeast infections, but nonetheless can arise. A variety of factors can cause male yeast infection symptoms. With proper care and timely treatment, yeast infections in men will go away either by themselves, or within a few days. Read on to learn more about how to identify a yeast infection in men and what to do about it.
What is a Yeast Infection?
Candida is a strain of yeast found on most human bodies. Populations of candida are usually kept in check by bacteria that cohabitate these spaces. When the bacteria are not able to feed on the yeast, the yeast can overgrow, often leading to a yeast infection. A yeast infection can develop in various places on the human body, but is especially prone to spaces that are moist, warm, and dark.
The most common manifestation of this imbalance is a vaginal yeast infection. This is mostly since yeast thrives in the environment of the vaginal canal, and when both isolated and cyclical changes in hormones occur, yeast can begin to overgrow without its bacterial adversaries to stop it.
When we ask the question, “Can men get yeast infections?” the inherent lack of a vaginal canal makes the answer seem like a pretty obvious “no.” However, a man’s genitals cultivate a similar environment that is generally moist, warm and dark as well as requires bacteria to keep yeast levels in check. For this reason, men can also develop genital yeast infections, as well as yeast infections that occur in other parts of the body with imbalances.
Symptoms of Yeast Infection In Men
Yeast infection symptoms in men typically manifest in penile yeast infections. This means that the skin in and around the penis may become infected, which can come with a series of uncomfortable symptoms. The most common are:
- Irritation and redness on and around the penis
- Light colored, shiny patches of skin on the penis
- Burning sensations during intercourse and/or urination
- Itchiness on and around the penis
- Red rash in and around the penis (can sometimes spread to inner thighs and buttocks)
Note that you should contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms, as they may indicate a more serious problem or infection. Seeing a PlushCare doctor by phone or video chat can usually help you determine if you are suffering from a yeast infection within only one appointment (yes, an online doctor can prescribe a medication!).
How Can a Man Get a Yeast Infection?
As in women, men can get yeast infections from a variety of causes that are related to both environmental conditions and personal habits. In men, yeast infections are most commonly due to the following:
- Unprotected sexual intercourse with someone who has a yeast infection – Skin-to-skin contact with someone who has a yeast infection is the easiest way for it to transmit to someone else. Open a dialogue with your partner about sexual health to ensure that both of you are being protected. If your partner has a yeast infection, refrain from sexual contact until treatment has ceased and the infection has gone away. If left untreated, yeast infections can be transmitted several times back and forth between partners.
- Uncircumcised – Uncircumcised penises are more prone to penile yeast infections because they can harbor more bacteria under the foreskin. Developing excellent hygiene habits can help reduce your risk of getting a yeast infection.
- Type 2 Diabetes – Having Type 2 Diabetes can increase your risk of developing yeast infections. This prevalence is because yeast feeds off sugar. Spikes in blood sugar create favorable environments for yeast to thrive, which can sometimes lead to a yeast infection. In fact, some people discover that they have diabetes because of increased frequency of yeast infections. Check with your doctor to be sure.
- HIV status – HIV has been linked to an increase in yeast infections, mainly because of the immune system’s weakened state.
- Frequent or prolonged antibiotic use – Using antibiotics can throw off the body’s natural balance between yeast and bacteria. If too many bacteria are killed off, this may stimulate overgrowth of yeast, which leads to a yeast infection.
- Hygiene Habits – Exercising proper hygiene habits can help reduce your risk of yeast infection. Bacteria build-up, especially in sheltered areas such as the genitals and armpits, can lead to various skin infections. To prevent penile yeast infections, it is very important to regularly clean your genitals.
- Clothing/Detergent – Wearing clothing that restricts airflow can help yeast infections develop. Some men report discomfort and infections caused by a change in laundry detergent. The skin of your genitals is extremely sensitive, and may be irritated by certain ingredients in detergents. If you notice discomfort associated with a new regimen, changing your detergent may help relieve irritation, or in this case, uncomfortable symptoms of male yeast infection.
Other Types of Yeast Infection in Men
- Feet – Extended physical activity, especially in the warmer months of the year, can make feet susceptible to yeast infections. Using clean, dry socks and exercising good personal hygiene will minimize this risk. Antifungal sprays and creams may also be helpful if uncomfortable symptoms persist.
- Mouth – Yeast infections of the mouth are also known as “oral thrush.” It is unclear whether this type of yeast infection can be transmitted through oral sex. However, oral thrush can develop from other physical imbalances that cause the same candida yeast to overgrow. Yeast infections of the mouth are usually indicated by a bright red, usually irritated oral environment, speckled by small white dots. Consult your doctor if you experience these symptoms.
- Skin Yeast Infection – Yeast infections can develop on virtually any surface of the skin, but areas that have higher levels of moisture, such as the armpits and mouths, are more likely to develop yeast infections. The causes of these isolated types of yeast infections will mainly depend on your lifestyle and personal hygiene.
Treatments for Yeast Infection in Men
Treatments for yeast infections in men are easy to access and with proper use will quickly relieve uncomfortable symptoms. In more severe cases of infection, your doctor may recommend an extended plan of treatment or lifestyle change. This information will help you understand your treatment options if you have a yeast infection.
If you have had yeast infections in the past and feel comfortable identifying the problem when it persists, you can use over the counter (OTC) treatment options to get rid of the infection. However, you should consult your doctor every time, to be sure that your symptoms are not actually indicative of a different, potentially serious problem.
Over the Counter (OTC) Treatment Options
Most OTC treatments for yeast infection are antifungal medications. The most popular are:
- Miconazole (Lotrimin AF, Ting Antifungal) – Topical antifungal cream/spray which can eradicate yeast infection in both men and women.
- Clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF, Desenex) – Topical cream for treatment of fungal growths on the skin.
Prescription Treatment Options
- Prescription antifungal pills – Antifungal pills such as Diflucan are only available with a prescription, but require only one pill to kill most yeast infections. For persistent yeast infections, your doctor may recommend you use this method.
Home Treatment Options
After speaking with your doctor, you may elect to use home remedies to get rid of a yeast infection, especially if you have had a yeast infection before. Home remedies typically revolve around a common antifungal property. Examples include:
- Oil of Oregano – Oil of oregano has strong antifungal powers and is taken orally (in a carrier oil, or highly diluted – never in essential oil form) to ward off yeast infections.
- Coconut Oil – The gentle, yet powerful antifungal properties of coconut oil can be used topically on yeast infections.
- Greek Yogurt – A natural antifungal, un-sweetened Greek yogurt can help relieve the symptoms of yeast infection. It is important to use yogurt without added sugar, as yeast thrives off sugar if introduced into the diet.
If left untreated, male yeast infections can become extremely uncomfortable and potentially dangerous if the infection is able to penetrate the blood stream. Consult with your doctor immediately after noticing signs of yeast infection in men.
In rare, persistent cases of penile yeast infections, your doctor may recommend circumcision as a treatment option. While circumcision is normally performed on infants, the procedure can safely be done on adult males of any age.
Why Antibiotics May Not Be Right
Oftentimes, when we hear the word “infection,” we assume that antibiotics will remedy the problem. In the case of some infections, this is true. In the case of a yeast infection, however, killing off healthy bacteria will continue to stimulate the growth of yeast. Taking antibiotics could exacerbate your symptoms and turn a yeast infection into a more serious health issue. Consult your doctor to find out if antibiotics are the right course of treatment for you.
Your doctor can help you determine what is a yeast infection and what could be a different, more serious problem.
How PlushCare Works
In today’s age of unpredictable waiting rooms and swamped doctors, online services like PlushCare save you time and stress. All of our visits with patients are confidential and convenient and require as little as a phone or video consultation. This can be especially helpful for addressing personal health problems, especially when they are of a sensitive nature.
Our team of medical professionals has extensive experience consulting with patients about their treatment options, including both over the counter and prescription medicines, and can help you understand which method is right for you.
Read more from related articles:
- How Do I Know if I Have A Yeast Infection?
- STD Symptoms in Men: What to Look For
- Urinary Tract Infections in Men