Thrush is an infection with a fungus. It is also known as a yeast infection. The fungus, called Candida, occurs naturally in the body, particularly in warm, moist areas such as the mouth and genitals.
The following information is about thrush in and around the penis. For information about thrush infections of the groin go to our male groin - irritation and infection page.
Candida normally does not cause any problems because it is kept under control by the immune system and by other bacteria in the body. However, some factors such as skin irritation, taking antibiotics or poorly controlled diabetes can allow the fungus to multiply, which can lead to symptoms.
Many people already have a small amount of candida in their bodies and on their skin. This is normal.
Symptoms of thrush in men
The most common symptoms are:
- a very itchy, red, and sore head of your penis (glans)
- small red spots on the head of your penis (glans)
- discharge from your penis
- pain when passing urine
- difficultly pulling back your foreskin
- a 'cheese-like' substance that smells yeasty and sometimes collects under your foreskin
In some men, thrush also causes their foreskin to swell and crack. This is probably caused by an allergy to the yeast.
Treatments for thrush in men
If you have thrush in and around the penis, practising good hygiene can help to clear up the infection.
- Clean the infected area carefully, preferably in the shower rather than a bath. Make sure you dry the area well by patting it rather than rubbing it. This will help reduce the build-up of moisture in the area and make it more difficult for the fungus to survive.
- Don’t use sprays, soaps, oils, disinfectants, shower gels or deodorants around the affected area, as these can cause further irritation.
- Avoid sharing your towels.
- Wear loose-fitting cotton underwear to help to keep your genitals dry and cool, and prevent the build-up of the fungus.
You should also visit a pharmacy where you can buy an anti-fungal cream. Make sure you follow the dosage directions on the patient information leaflet that comes with the medicine. A single-dose pill treatment is also available on prescription. See your doctor to discuss the best treatment option.
If you are in pain, get advice on pain relief medicines you can take.
If these treatments don’t work or if you often get thrush, see a doctor as you may have other health problems or a drug-resistant type of Candida. Your doctor may also test for sexually transmissible infections, which can cause similar symptoms.
Not sure what to do next?
If you are still concerned about your thrush in men, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: November 2019