Candida albicans is a common fungus. You’ve probably got a small amount living in your mouth, digestive tract, or on moist parts of your skin. Women often have some in their vagina. Most of the time, Candida doesn’t cause any problems. But if too much of it grows in one place, you get a yeast infection.
You could get this inside your mouth (doctors call this oral thrush) or as a skin infection. Men can also get a yeast infection on the tip of their penis. This leads to an inflammation called balanitis. It’s more common in men who aren’t circumcised and have a foreskin that’s still intact.
You’re more likely to get a yeast infection when you:
- Have been taking antibiotics for a long time
- Have diabetes
- Are overweight
- Have a weak immune system (like people who have HIV)
- Have trouble cleaning yourself
You can also get a yeast infection on your penis through sex. If your partner has one, they could pass it on to you.
If you have a yeast infection on your penis, you could have:
- Itching or burning on the tip of your penis or the foreskin
- Discharge that looks like cottage cheese and might have a bread-like smell
- Trouble pulling back your foreskin
- A hard time getting or keeping an erection
In severe cases, you may have a hard time peeing or keeping control of your urine stream.
Since many sexually transmitted infections (STIs) share some of the symptoms of a yeast infection, you shouldn’t try to diagnose yourself. See your doctor. He’ll ask about your symptoms and examine your penis.
Your doctor may suggest an over-the-counter antifungal cream or prescribe one to help get rid of the infection. This goes on the head of your penis and under your foreskin until your symptoms go away, which could take 7 to 10 days. You’ll also need to avoid sex until you’re better.
If itching is a problem, your doctor can also give you a corticosteroid (steroid) cream to offer some relief.
If an antifungal or corticosteroid cream doesn’t clear up your infection, let your doctor know. He may refer you to a dermatologist (skin doctor).
- Have HIV
- Have diabetes
- Are having chemotherapy or radiation
- Need dialysis
- Are taking immunosuppressants (drugs that quiet your immune system)
- Have a central venous catheter (a tube in your chest that’s used to give you medicine)
The best way to stop a yeast infection from happening (or coming back) is to practice good hygiene. Clean and dry your penis each time you shower and after sex. Unscented soaps are best.
When your partner has a yeast infection, use a condom during sex.
Wear loose cotton underwear. This prevents moisture from building up under your foreskin. If your groin gets too moist, it’s easier for candida fungus to grow there.