What is Candidiasis in Men?
Candidiasis is a common yeast infection that is caused by a fungus called candida albicans. Candidiasis is mostly seen in women even though at times men may also get it. It is commonly called as thrush. When it comes to candidiasis in men, it typically affects the head of the penis resulting in irritation, erythema, and abnormal discharge from the penis. At times, the inner part of the mouth also gets affected with candidiasis. This is termed as oral thrush. While many cases of candidiasis can be easily treated with over-the-counter antifungal medications, it is important to consult with a physician in cases if an individual develops it for the first time to confirm the diagnosis and start treatment .
The reason behind this is that many presenting features of candidiasis are quite similar to other sexually transmitted illnesses and a physician will be the best person to judge the cause of the symptoms. However, in someone with a past history of candidiasis then it becomes easy to recognize the symptoms and take over-the-counter medications. Someone with a compromised immune system such as people above the age of 65 or with autoimmune disorders or HIV should also consult with a physician for treatment of candidiasis. The reason for this is the potential for the infection to spread rapidly in people with a weak immune system .
Some facts about candidiasis include that this fungus can be present on the skin and mucous membranes and are usually asymptomatic but under certain environment they start to grow and cause symptoms. There are certain risk factors which increase the risk of having candidiasis. These factors include chronic use of antibiotics, steroids, diabetes, and poor hygiene. Even though genital candidiasis is not a sexually transmitted disease but if an individual has it there is every chance that he may spread it to the partner through vaginal penetration .
Practicing good hygiene is the key to prevent candidiasis in men. This article highlights some of the presenting features of candidiasis in men and different ways to treat it .
What Are The Presenting Features of Candidiasis in Men?
Candidiasis may affect the head of the penis and foreskin in men. It can also affect the mouth in some cases. Other than this, in majority of the cases, male candidiasis is asymptomatic. However, if the infection results in inflammation then it could be accompanied with itching and soreness in the affected area. Some people also develop small papular rashes. There can also be swelling along with skin irritation .
Candidiasis also at times causes a discharge from the penile area from the foreskin which may have a foul odor. The individual will have problems with pulling the foreskin back which will make it difficult for him to get involved in sexual activity due to pain and discomfort. There will also be pain when passing urine .
How is Candidiasis in Men Treated?
Coming to the treatment of candidiasis in men, mild cases do not require any treatment and the condition resolves spontaneously. In other far more severe cases, a need for antifungal medications maybe necessary. The best way to treat candidiasis in men is by using topical or oral antifungal medications. Clotrimazole cream or Monistat are the most preferred and effective medications that treats candidiasis in men according to the Center for Disease Control .
The cream can be applied directly to the affected area once or twice a day for at least three to four weeks for completely treating the infection. Nystatin is also at times used for treating candidiasis in men but this is not as effective as the medications mentioned above. It is essential for people who develop candidiasis for the first time to consult with a physician before starting any medications and avoid self-treatment of any sort .
Other than the medications mentioned above, there are also certain home remedies that are equally effective in treating candidiasis in men. Practicing good hygiene is the best way to prevent candidiasis. It should be ensured that the penis should be cleaned with soap and water every day while bathing. It is recommended not to use any perfumed soaps or lotions as it can worsen the irritation .
It is important to make sure that the penis is completely dried before wearing undergarments because if the area is moist then it will provide breeding ground for bacterial infections. In men who have not had circumcision, poor hygiene can result in accumulation of a foul smelling substance called smegma which can further intensity the irritation .
Complications are quite rare in people with candidiasis; however, in extremely rare cases especially in people with a compromised immune system, invasive candidiasis can develop. This is a complication of genital candidiasis where the fungal infection spreads to the entire body by infiltrating the blood. This can significantly damage the vital organs of the body including the liver, heart, and brain .
Invasive candidiasis at times can be lethal and is an emergent medical condition requiring immediate treatment. In the emergency department, the vital organs of the body will be protected from the infection and medications will be given to eliminate the fungus. People with compromised immune system may have to be treated in a hospital as a precautionary measure for cases of candidiasis .
An individual will have a compromised immune system if he has HIV infection. Immune system also gets compromised if an individual is diabetic or is being treated with heavy dose of chemotherapy drugs for some forms of cancer .
In conclusion, candidiasis is a common fungal infection that generally affects females but at times also can affect males as well. In males, candidiasis often at times leads to a condition called balanitis in which there is inflammation of the glans. Candidiasis in itself does not cause any symptoms but if there is inflammation then it is going to be accompanied with symptoms like irritation and soreness of the penis. At times, there will also be foul smelling discharge from under the foreskin in uncircumcised males [1, 2].
In mild cases of candidiasis in males there is no treatment required. However, in cases where significant symptoms are observed then over the counter antifungal creams are quite effective. In people with conditions which weaken the immune system stronger medications will be required and the patient may even have to be admitted to the hospital [1, 2].
In case if candidiasis is not treated then at times it may lead to certain complications like invasive candidiasis in which the infection spreads to the entire body and can be life-threatening. In such cases, the patient should be taken to the emergency room for evaluation and emergent treatment. In cases where someone suffers from candidiasis for the first time, then consultation with a physician is a must to formulate a treatment plan [1, 2].
It is quite easy to prevent candidiasis in men if good hygiene is practiced. Thus, it is mandatory to clean the penis every day after bathing and patting it dry before wearing undergarments to prevent male candidiasis. [1, 2].
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