Candida, also known as thrush, is usually caused by a fungus called Candida albicans and can occur in men as well as women.
Candida albicans occurs naturally in the body and usually grows in warm, moist places, such as the mouth and genital area, according to the NHS. Normally, it does not cause any trouble as it is controlled by the immune system and other types of bacteria in the body. However, sometimes the fungus can grow and multiply, leading to infection.
Thrush is more likely to occur in men who have the following.
- A weakened immune system – this can be caused by high stress levels, or conditions like HIV, which damages the immune system and therefore makes it less efficient in fighting infection
- Diabetes – especially when it is poorly managed
However, it is also possible, according to Candida Support, to contract the infection via the following:
- Sexual intercourse with a woman who has a vaginal yeast infection (men can also pass Candida on to women)
- Taking a course of antibiotics, which kills beneficial bacteria regulating the amount of Candida albicans in the body
- Eating and drinking substances that contain a lot of sugar and/or carbohydrates
Some common symptoms of male thrush include:
- Red skin and swelling around the and on the head of the penis
- Irritation, soreness and itching
- Thick, lumpy discharge under the foreskin
- An unpleasant odour
- A reddish rash and/or small blisters on the head and shaft
- Difficulty pulling back the foreskin
- Pain when urinating
- Pain during sex
The infection can sometimes also travel down to the anal region and develop into a red, itchy and sometimes painful rash there.
Often, thrush in men can be treated through an over-the-counter remedy. This can come in the form of a cream to relieve symptoms or a pill taken orally. If symptoms do not go away after 14 days, it is advisable to see a doctor.
Because Candida albicans grows in warm moist areas and thrives on irritated and damaged skin, it is important to:
- Wash the genital area regularly with warm water, avoiding soaps and shower gels, as these irritate the skin.
- Dry the penis carefully after washing to stop it being more moist than necessary.
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