Symptoms of thrush in men
Some men may not experience any signs or symptoms of thrush.
If symptoms do appear, they can include:
- irritation, burning or itching under the foreskin or on the tip of the penis
- redness, or red patches under the foreskin or on the tip of the penis
- a discharge under the foreskin that may look like cottage cheese – there may also be an unpleasant smell
- difficulty pulling back the foreskin of your penis
Thrush as a skin infection
Thrush can affect other areas of the body such as the:
- areas between your fingers
- skin between your genitals and anus
This usually causes a red, itchy or painful rash that scales over with white or yellow discharge. The rash may not be so obvious on darker skin.
Thrush can also affect the inside of the month. This is known as oral thrush.
When to get medical advice
See a GP if:
- you have the symptoms of thrush for the first time
- your thrush keeps coming back (more than twice in six months)
- treatment hasn’t worked
- you have thrush and a weakened immune system - for example because of diabetes, HIV or chemotherapy
If you have had unprotected sexual intercourse and develop discomfort in your penis, or discharge, you should go to a sexual health clinic.
Treatment for thrush
Thrush should clear up within a week with treatment.
You don’t need to treat partners, unless they have symptoms.
You might need to take treatment for longer (for up to six months) if you keep getting thrush (you get it more than twice in six months).
Your GP can help identify if there is something causing your thrush to last or recur. They’ll recommend how often you should use treatment.
Your pharmacist can help with thrush
You can buy some anti-fungal medication from pharmacies if you’ve had thrush diagnosed in the past and you know the symptoms.
Your pharmacist can recommend the best treatment for you. Ask if they have a private area to talk if you’re embarrassed.
You shouldn’t use antifungal medicine more than twice in six months without speaking to your pharmacist or doctor.
Things you can do yourself
There are things you can do to help ease discomfort and prevent thrush returning. This includes:
- using water and emollient (instead of soap) to wash your penis
- drying the affected area properly after washing
- wearing loose-fitting cotton underwear
- avoiding sex until thrush has cleared up
- using a condom to help stop it spreading
- taking showers instead of baths
Causes of thrush
Thrush isn’t classed as a sexually transmitted infection (STI) but it can be triggered by sex and sometimes passed on through sex.
Thrush is caused by a fungus called candida that is normally harmless. Thrush tends to grow in warm, moist conditions and develops if the balance of bacteria changes.
This can happen if:
- your skin is irritated or damaged
- you’re taking antibiotics
- you have poorly controlled diabetes
- you have a weakened immune system, for example, because of HIV or chemotherapy
Types of thrush
For more information about other types of thrush, see: