Women aren't the only ones to get yeast infections.
When it happens to men, it most commonly affects the uncircumcised, and can result in a swelling of the head of the penis. That condition is called balanitis, and it affects about 1 in 20 men. Symptoms can include redness, swelling, pain, itching, or discharge in the tip of your penis.
The inflammation is usually caused by poor hygiene – the folds of skin at the tip of an uncircumcised penis can trap dead cells, oils and discharge. But balanitis may also be triggered by infection, chronic skin conditions, or even too much hygiene: excessive cleansing can trigger it, as well. The ailment may be caused by any kind of injury to the tip of the penis, or an irritation caused by:
- not rinsing soap completely off of your penis after showering
- using scented soaps to clean your penis
- using bar soap that dries out the skin
- using scented lotions or sprays on your penis
Other, less common causes of balanitis include:
- reactive arthritis
- uncontrolled diabetes
- sexually transmitted infections like syphilis, trichomonas, and gonorrhea
It is a simple enough procedure for your doctor to diagnose balanitis as most of the symptoms are visible during a physical exam. He may also take a urine sample and a swab of penile discharge if there is any. By analyzing these fluids, your physician will be able to determine the source of the balanitis.
The first order of treatment will usually be to discontinue any type of lotions, powders or perfumed soaps you may have had as part of your daily regimen, as all these can be irritants to your foreskin. Next your doctor will likely prescribe anti-itch cream, to alleviate some of the more annoying symptoms, and possibly steroid-based creams to reduce inflammation.
Subsequent treatment will depend upon the cause of the balanitis. A yeast infection may be treated with anti-fungal creams containing terbinafine, nystatin or clotrimazole.
If all this sounds pretty dreary, hold on – it can get worse. Balanitis complications can include phimosis, a condition where a man's foreskin cannot retract. Treatment might necessitate circumcision.
The best treatment for balanitis is prevention, and that can be as simple as practicing proper hygiene and avoiding the direct application of perfumed or deodorizing products on your penis.