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.
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.
Many people already have a small amount of candida in their bodies and on their skin. This is normal.
Thrush may occasionally be passed on during sex because the fungus can be transferred from one person to another. The infection can also be made worse as a result of irritation around the genital area that sometimes occurs during sexual intercourse. But it is not a typical sexually transmitted infection (STI) – in fact, thrush is more common in men who are not sexually active.
You should visit a pharmacy where you can buy anti-fungal creams or a single dose pill. Make sure you follow the dosage information on the patient information leaflet that comes with the medicine. If you are in pain, get advice on pain relief medicines you can take. And if it doesn’t improve, see your doctor.
Find out about treatments for thrush in men.
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).
Last reviewed: October 2017