Male Yeast Infection: How to Treat Jock Itch and More

Medically Reviewed By Kevin Martinez, M.D.
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A male yeast infection occurs when a fungal infection develops on the penis or in the warm, moist areas of the groin. A common symptom is an itchy and painful rash. This type of yeast infection is also known as “jock itch” if it affects the groin or “balanitis” if it affects the penis. Around 20–25% of people experience a fungal infection that affects their skin, hair, or nails. The most common type of fungal infection is tinea, which is known as “tinea cruris” when it affects the warm, moist areas of the groin.

Male yeast infections may also affect the penis, which is an infection known as “balanitis.” Some factors make an individual more likely to develop a yeast infection than others. These include being uncircumcised, having diabetes, and having a weakened immune system. Athletes are also at higher risk of yeast infections due to the sweat buildup in the groin area during sports.

Mild male yeast infections may clear up quickly with over-the-counter (OTC) medications. However, if the infection is hard to treat, you may require oral medications.

Read on to learn more about male yeast infections, including causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

Symptoms of male yeast infections

A man is sitting on a bar stool.
Caleb Gaskins/Stocksy United

Although female yeast infections typically present noticeable symptoms, some males may not experience any symptoms of a yeast infection at all.

However, if symptoms are present, they can be uncomfortable and painful.

Symptoms of jock itch

When a male yeast infection affects the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks, it is known as “jock itch.” Symptoms include:

  • an itchy rash
  • a painful rash
  • a rash scaling with white or yellow discharge

Symptoms of penile yeast infections

A penile yeast infection is also known as “balanitis.” This type of infection affects around 1–25 boys and 1 in 30 uncircumcised males during their life.

Symptoms of a penile yeast infection include:

  • itchiness
  • a rash
  • moist skin on the penis
  • shiny white patches on the penis
  • a thick white substance under the foreskin
  • a burning sensation on the head of the penis
  • a foul smell coming from the area
  • white discharge that resembles cottage cheese

Learn more about fungal infections here.

What does a male yeast infection look like?

Examples of male yeast infection

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Balanitis

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Jock itch

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Tinea cruris

Treatments for male yeast infections

Treatment options for male yeast infections are typically straightforward. They can include:

  • an OTC antifungal cream or ointment
  • a mild steroid cream or ointment
  • antibiotics (for more widespread or persistent bacterial infections)

If medications do not help with penile yeast infections, or if the condition keeps coming back, your doctor may suggest circumcision.

Learn more about circumcision here.

How long do male yeast infections last?

Mild cases of jock itch or other male yeast infections may go away quite quickly with a course of antifungal medication. However, some cases may take weeks or months to clear up.

It is important to continue using the antifungal ointment or any other treatment for the duration that your doctor or pharmacist recommends. This will help ensure that the infection fully clears up.

Can a male yeast infection go away on its own?

A mild yeast infection may go away on its own. However, using an antifungal ointment can reduce symptoms as well as prevent complications and reduce the risk of the infection coming back.

What causes male yeast infections?

Yeast infections are commonly caused by the fungus Candida albicans, which occurs in moist, warm areas.

There are several different causes that can lead to a male yeast infection. Examples include:

  • wearing tight-fitting underwear or wet clothing
  • using soaps or skin products that cause irritation
  • having poor personal hygiene
  • using antibiotics for a long time
  • having a weakened immune system
  • using condoms that contain lubricants
  • using spermicides

If you are uncircumcised or have diabetes, you may be at greater risk of experiencing male yeast infections.

Can a yeast infection be sexually transmitted?

Yeast infections can pass on through sexual activity. It is possible to contract a male yeast infection as a result of having sex with someone who has a yeast infection.

Although yeast infections can spread through sex, they are not sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

When should I contact a doctor?

It is important to contact a doctor if your symptoms do not show any signs of improvement after using an antifungal ointment. Your doctor will be able to test to see if your infection is resistant to the medication or to determine if you have any underlying conditions that may be causing the infection.

You should also contact your doctor if the infection keeps returning. This could be a sign of a different condition, such as diabetes or a weakened immune system.

What happens when I contact a doctor for a yeast infection?

If your yeast infection is severe or does not clear up, your doctor may take a swab of the infection. They will send this to the laboratory to determine exactly what the infection is.

If the infection does not clear up, a biopsy may be required.

Are there any complications of male yeast infections?

Yeast infections do not typically cause complications. However, if the infection enters the bloodstream, it can cause an infection inside your body. There is a greater risk of this occurring if any of the following apply:

If you have a yeast infection and are at risk of complications, contact your doctor straight away. They will be able to advise on the best course of treatment for you.

Can I prevent male yeast infections?

It is possible to reduce the risk of male yeast infections by taking the following steps:

  • Make sure you wash regularly and maintain good hygiene.
  • Avoid washing the penis and genital area with shower gels and soaps that have strong fragrances.
  • Thoroughly and gently dry the groin area after washing.
  • Wear loose-fitting cotton underwear or boxers to keep the genital area dry and cool.

You can also help prevent the spread of a male yeast infection by doing the following:

  • Treat the infection with an antifungal cream as soon as possible.
  • Wash your hands after each time you touch the area.
  • Do not share towels with other people.
  • Be sure to clean the bath or shower after every use.

By taking these preventive measures, you can reduce the risk of other people developing a yeast infection. It should also reduce the risk of the infection coming back to you.

Summary

A male yeast infection is a fungal infection that occurs in the groin area or on the penis. The area can become itchy and sore, usually as a result of a rash. A fungal infection of the groin can also be known as “tinea cruris” or “jock itch.”

Some people are more likely to develop a male yeast infection, such as athletes, people with diabetes, and individuals who are not circumcised. Yeast infections can also spread through sex, though they are not considered STIs.

Most yeast infections are treatable with OTC antifungal medications. However, for more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

If you have a male yeast infection and are at risk of complications, or if your symptoms do not improve after using an antifungal treatment, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

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Medical Reviewer: Kevin Martinez, M.D.
Last Review Date: 2022 Mar 29
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