Do not Lick Your Partner: Thrush (Candida) Infection!

Thrush is a fungal infection caused by Candida yeasts, and especially Candida albicans. It often affects women, but it can occur in men, too.
Other names for thrush include yeast infection, Candidacandidiasis, candidal balanitis, and formerly, moniliasis.
When thrush occurs in males, it can affect the head of the penis and the foreskin. It can lead to inflammation of the head of the penis, known as balanitis.
Oral thrush affects the mucous membranes, for example, of the mouth.
Fast facts on thrush in men
Here are some key points about male candidiasis. More detail is in the main article.
  •  Candida normally lives on the skin and mucous membranes, but if too much grows, it can cause symptoms.
  • Symptoms include an itchy rash, red skin, swelling, irritation, and itching around the head of the penis, lumpy discharge under the foreskin, or pain when urinating and during sex.
  • Risk factors include the use of antibiotics or corticosteroids, immunosuppression, diabetes, poor hygiene, and using too many cleansing products.
  • Genital candidiasis is not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but transmission can occur during vaginal intercourse.
  • Oral or local antifungal treatments can be used to treat candidiasis.
  • Good hygiene practices can help prevent it.


In men, thrush affects the head of the penis and, if present, the foreskin.
It can also occur on other areas of skin or mucous membrane, for example, in the mouth. This is known as oral thrush.
There are often no symptoms, but if inflammation occurs, the following symptoms may appear around the head of the penis:
  • itching and soreness
  • a blotchy rash with small papules or white patches
  • dull red skin with a glazed appearance
  • swelling and irritation
There may also be:
  • a thick, white, lumpy discharge under the foreskin or in the skin folds, possibly with an unpleasant odor
  • difficulty pulling back the foreskin
Pain may be present during sex or when passing urine.

Oral thrush pictures


Many mild infections do not require treatment. Some medications are available, and there are also home remedies that may help.



Antifungal topical creams or oral medication may help to relieve symptoms. They are equally effective. Both topical and oral forms are available from a doctor, over-the-counter at a pharmacy, or online.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a doctor may prescribe the following drugs:
  • Clotrimazole (Lotrimin)
  • Econazole nitrate (Specazole)
  • Miconazole nitrate (Monistat)
People apply creams topically, directly onto the affected area, usually once a day for 7 to 21 days.
Nystatin is another topical antifungal. It has numerous brand names, but it is less effective than the topical imidazoles.
Clotrimazole, miconazole, and various topical preparations for preventing and treating fungal infections are available for purchase online.
A man who has not had treatment for thrush previously should see a doctor before treating themselves.

Home remedies

Good hygiene prevents thrush and helps to treat it.

Hygiene is important for preventing infections, but avoid perfumed shower products, as they can make symptoms worse.
Tips for good hygiene include:
  • washing the penis carefully with warm, running water
  • not using perfumed shower gels or soaps on the genitals, because they can cause irritation
  • drying the penis carefully after washing
  • wearing loose-fitting cotton underpants to help keep the genital area dry and cool
In men with a foreskin, poor hygiene underneath it can lead to the build-up of a cheesy-looking substance called smegma. Smegma can cause irritation.

Do probiotics work?

People who get recurrent yeast infections often try probiotics and other alternative treatments containing Lactobacillus bacteria.
There is conflicting evidence about its effectiveness, but laboratory findings published in Biofoulingin 2018 suggest that some species of Lactobacillus may reduce the number of Candida cells in some types of candidiasis infection.
However, there is no evidence to suggest that probiotics contribute in any way to the prevention or treatment of Candida infections in men.
Supplements and other products that may help relieve thrush are available for purchase online.


In rare cases, a man with weakened immunity who has genital thrush may develop invasive candidiasis. This is a fungal infection of the blood, and it can cause the fungus to spread throughout the body.
In this way, it can affect different organs in the body, including the brain, the liver, and the heart.
An infection that affects the whole body is systemic. A systemic fungal infection can be fatal, according to the United States National Institutes of Health. and it is a medical emergency.
Emergency treatment in hospital protects organs from the infection while antifungal drugs are administered to kill it.
Sometimes, if a man with weakened immunity develops thrush, he may need to go to the hospital as a precaution.
Factors that increase this risk include:
  • having an HIV infection
  • having diabetes
  • using immunosuppressant drugs
  • undergoing high-dose chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment for cancer
  • having a central venous catheter (CVC) for medication
  • being on dialysis

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Date published: 22/09/2017
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