Thrush in men occurs when the yeast species Candida albicans multiplies out of control to cause negative symptoms. An infection can occur in different parts of the body, particularly moist and dark areas such as the mouth, under the diaper in babies, within skin folds and in the genital area. The term thrush in men or genital thrush in men describes an infection of the penis.

Men with a foreskin are more likely to get thrush than circumcised men as Candida thrives on the warm and damp conditions under the foreskin. The main symptom is an itchy, red rash and soreness of the head of the penis. A reddish rash of spots and tiny pustules can also form along the shaft of the penis. Some men experience pain when urinating and can have a discharge from the penis. Uncircumcised men will have difficulty pulling back the foreskin.

Thrush is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD) due to the fact that men who are not sexually active can become infected. While it can be passed via sex with an infected partner, Candida also occurs naturally in the body.

Candida albicans

Candida albicans | Photo by Graham Colm

Candida is normally kept in check by healthy bacteria in the body, so an infection can take hold after a prolonged use of antibiotics. Good hygiene such as drying the penis carefully after washing and avoiding perfumed soaps and washes that can irritate the skin are sensible precautions.

Most thrush infections can be treated with a topical, over-the-counter antifungal cream — the same medication used for vaginal thrush — but if you are suffering from recurring thrush or a chronic condition, it makes sense to visit your doctor so that the cause can be investigated. Your symptoms may result from internal (as opposed to superficial) Candidiasis that is affecting other parts of the body. This is a serious condition that may have broader negative health implications. Click for more information on yeast infection treatments.