Candidal balanitis is a common condition in men that causes the head of the penis to become inflamed. It is caused by candida, a very common yeast that can be found on our bodies. Typically it doesn’t cause any problems because it’s a very small amount however given the right setting, the yeast can multiply rapidly leading to an infection known as candidiasis (thrush).
In men, it can affect the penis and foreskin, causing candidal balanitis. About 1 in 25 men will develop candidal balanitis at some point in their life.
The most common symptom is an inflamed head of the penis and which can be itchy and painful. Other symptoms include:
Balanitis itself is not contagious however sexual partners can develop symptoms because fungi (yeast), bacteria and viruses can be transferred directly. It is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), although sex can instigate or aggravate it.
Candida is usually harmless and can often be found living on the skin and inside the body in areas like the mouth and gut in small amounts. It thrives in warm damp conditions and can multiply very fast if given the right environment which can lead to it quickly getting out of control. The most common cause of candida balanitis is poor personal hygiene in uncircumcised men.
Candida balanitis is usually be caused by the following:
To help avoid candidal balanitis you can:
Candidal fungal infections such as thrush or candidal balanitis are generally not serious and can easily be treated by using an antifungal cream such as those containing clotrimazole such as Canesten, or containing miconazole such as Daktarin.
The creams should usually be applied twice a day for 7 to 14 days if using Canesten Thrush 2% cream, or up to 3 days after the rash has cleared.
Left untreated, it can lead to further complications so it’s best to treat it at first sight.
Once treatment is started, balanitis usually clears up within five days. It’s important to clean the area and improve your hygiene routine properly.
You are fit for work if you have candidal balanitis.
You should see your doctor or sexual health clinic if you have tried over-the-counter measures and the symptoms haven’t completely cleared up or have come back quickly.
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