Is male thrush different from female thrush?
Both men and women can get thrush infections. Thrush is a yeast infection caused by Candida (a type of fungus that normally lives in the body and on the skin's surface without causing any problems), and when it multiplies, it can cause an infection in various areas of the body.
Men and women can both experience thrush in the following areas:
- Mouth and throat
- Groin area and genitals
The infection is caused by the same fungus; however, symptoms may differ depending on where the infection is present. Candidal balanitis (inflammation of the tip of the penis) is the medical term for thrush affecting the male genitals. Men often experience more pain and swelling with a penile yeast infection, whereas women often report unusual white discharge and itching as the primary symptoms of vaginal thrush.
How do men catch thrush?
Thrush occurs when the naturally occurring fungus Candida overgrows in one place. However, there are some factors that can make you more susceptible, including:
- Having oral or sexual contact with someone who has thrush
- Not cleaning your genitals or bathing regularly
- Having a weakened immune system
- Not drying your skin properly
- Wearing tight-fitting underwear
- Using soaps and gels that are fragranced
- Being uncircumcised and having a tight foreskin
Thrush in men can appear a few days after contracting the infection during sex, or it can develop gradually due to the risk factors listed above. When you suspect a yeast infection, practising good hygiene and seeking treatment as soon as possible is critical.
Can sex cause thrush infections?
Although uncommon, it is possible to develop thrush after unprotected sex; however, fungal infections are not classed as a sexually transmitted infections. On rare occasions, thrush can be triggered by sex in both men and women, and if a female sexual partner is repeatedly experiencing thrush, then it’s possible that both have a Candida infection and are cross-infecting each other. In this case, both you and your partner should seek treatment.
If only your partner has thrush, it is best to avoid sex until they have been treated. Using a condom will also help prevent you from passing it between you, but remember that condoms may be affected by the creams used to treat thrush.
What are the common thrush symptoms in males?
Male symptoms of thrush can vary between individuals and depending on where the infection is present on the body.
Common symptoms of a male penile yeast infection include:
- Redness, itching, and burning on the head of the penis, and under the foreskin
- White discharge resembling cottage cheese
- Unpleasant smells from the penis
- Difficulty pulling back the foreskin and pain when urinating
- Pain and irritation when you have sex
- A glazed appearance on the surface of the penis
It’s not uncommon for STIs and thrush to share similar symptoms. If symptoms persist after treatment, it’s best to visit your GP or local sexual health clinic to receive a formal diagnosis.
How is thrush diagnosed?
If you have had thrush before and recognise your symptoms, then using an antifungal cream or oral thrush treatment can be enough to clear up your symptoms. However, if you’re suffering from recurring fungal infections then it’s best to visit your GP or sexual health clinic, where a swab can be taken to confirm whether you do have thrush. This usually involves just a quick swab of the infected area.
In some severe cases, your GP may request further tests such as a urine or blood sample. Thrush is a common infection, but in instances when it comes back repeatedly or symptoms don’t seem to be easing, this could be down to other causes such as diabetes or a low immune system.
What is the best treatment for male thrush?
If you’re looking for a thrush treatment for men, there are many effective male thrush treatment options available. Over the counter medications include:
- Canesten 1% Cream: a cream containing the active ingredient Clotrimazole that kills fungi and yeast around the affected area.
- Canesten 2% Cream: a slightly stronger formula that provides fast-acting relief from thrush symptoms.
- Clotrimazole 1% Cream: an antifungal cream containing the same active ingredient as Canesten alternatives. It can treat conditions such as thrush, jock itch, ringworm, and other fungal skin infections.
- Fluconazole 150mg Thrush Capsule: a single dose capsule that effectively relieves itching and irritation associated with penile thrush.
- Canesten Oral Capsule: a single oral tablet containing the ingredient fluconazole that quickly kills the infection at the source and clears symptoms of genital thrush.
In most cases, these treatment options are enough to ease discomfort and clear the infection in a few days.
Can male thrush cure itself?
Thrush may go away on its own at times, but the infection may worsen and spread to other parts of the body. If you suspect you have thrush, seek treatment or consult your doctor immediately, especially if you have never had thrush before — as the symptoms are very similar to those of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
How long does male thrush take to clear up?
With treatment, male thrush can clear up in just a few days. You should use the treatment for as long as directed to be sure that the infection is fully cleared and has less chance of recurring. If your thrush persists or returns, your GP may look into recurring thrush treatments or perform further tests.
How to prevent male thrush
Although a penile yeast infection is easily treated, taking precautionary measures to reduce the risk of developing one is always advised. Maintaining proper hygiene and wearing loose-fitting, breathable clothing are two of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent male thrush.
Fungi thrive in warm and moist environments. Avoid anything which might make your genital area hot or wet for any length of time, including:
- Shower after exercise and dry yourself thoroughly
- Opt for breathable cotton underwear
- Avoid tight underwear, trousers, and shorts
- Keep your penis clean. Wash regularly, and dry thoroughly
- Be mindful of using perfumed soaps or shower gels that may cause irritation
Treating male thrush can be very simple when you use the right treatment such as antifungal creams or oral medication. At The Independent Pharmacy, you can conveniently purchase the thrush treatment you need and have your order confirmed by a healthcare professional before receiving it the very next working day.