Penile yeast infections can create a range of uncomfortable symptoms, but are often treated quickly by OTC medications, and can be reduced by taking certain steps, such as practicing proper hygiene.

A yeast infection is often thought of as a female health problem, but it can affect anyone, including people with a penis.

A penile yeast infection can lead to a wide range of painful and uncomfortable symptoms if not treated. It can also lead to serious complications if the infection spreads to your bloodstream.

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications can often clear up a yeast infection, and some basic prevention steps can help you avoid this fairly common condition.

Some of the most common symptoms of a penile yeast infection include:

  • redness, soreness, or swelling of the penis
  • white, shiny patches at the top of the penis
  • small red spots at the top of the penis
  • cracked foreskin
  • thick, white discharge under the foreskin or other folds of skin
  • difficulty pulling back the foreskin
  • itchiness
  • burning sensation during urination
  • pain or discomfort during sex

Redness, itchiness, and pain in the penis can be signs of other more serious conditions, like some sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so do not ignore symptoms once they appear.

A urologist or primary care doctor can diagnose the condition, often in a single appointment.

A yeast infection is usually caused by a fungus called candida. A small amount of candida is usually present in the body. All it takes is an overgrowth of candida to develop a yeast infection.

A moist environment is ideal for candida to spread, according to 2018 research.

Having sex with a person who has a vaginal yeast infection without using a condom can also cause a penile yeast infection. However, you can also develop an infection without sexual activity.

Aside from sex with a partner who has a yeast infection, several other risk factors can increase your odds of developing a penile yeast infection, such as:

  • not cleaning your genitals or bathing regularly
  • having a weakened immune function due to certain medications or health conditions
  • using antibiotics long term
  • wearing wet clothing or tight-fitting underwear
  • using skin products or soaps that cause skin irritation
  • having diabetes
  • using lubricated condoms
  • being uncircumcised
  • having obesity

Once you make an appointment, a doctor will ask you about your symptoms and likely examine your genitals. Some of the white substance that forms on the penis may be examined under a microscope to confirm the type of fungus causing the symptoms, according to 2022 research.

If you cannot get in to see a doctor or a urologist, consider a visit to an urgent care center or the emergency room. The earlier the problem is diagnosed and treatment begins, the more likely it is you can avoid complications.

It’s not recommended for a person to diagnose themselves and start treatment on their own. If symptoms of a yeast infection are present, contact a doctor. If symptoms are allowed to persist, complications can become very uncomfortable.

In most cases, topical antifungal ointments and creams are enough to clear up an infection. Some of the antifungal creams recommended for a yeast infection include:

  • miconazole (Lotrimin AF, Cruex, Desenex, Ting Antifungal)
  • imidazole (Canesten, Selezen)
  • clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF, Anti-Fungal, Cruex, Desenex, Lotrimin AF Ringworm)

Most of these are available as OTC medications, which means you will not need a prescription. More serious or long-term infections may require prescription-strength medication.

Oral fluconazole (Diflucan) and hydrocortisone cream may be advised in serious infections, like those that have developed into a potentially serious condition called balanitis.

Most antifungal creams are well tolerated and unlikely to cause any serious side effects. Check the label, however, and ask a doctor and pharmacist what to look out for in case you have a bad reaction.

Recurrent yeast infections

Yeast infections sometimes return after they seem to have been cured. If this happens, your doctor will likely recommend a few weeks of daily treatments followed by a few months of weekly treatments.

In some cases, treatment for recurrent yeast infections can last up to 6 months.

If your infection does not respond well to an antifungal ointment and you are uncircumcised, you may be advised to have an adult male circumcision, according to 2016 research. Though this surgical procedure is usually done on infants, it can be done safely on people of any age.

Diabetes and yeast infections

Factors like diabetes and a suppressed immune system may contribute to your yeast infection risk, according to 2019 research.

If you have diabetes, work with a healthcare professional to make sure your blood sugar levels are well-managed. If you have a suppressed immune system, a doctor can recommend ways to help keep your immune system as healthy as possible.

If left untreated, a penile yeast infection can lead to some serious complications.


One of the potential complications of a penile yeast infection is balanitis. Balanitis is an inflammation of the foreskin or head of the penis. Diabetes can increase your risk for balanitis.

If balanitis is not treated effectively, scarring of the foreskin can occur. It can also cause adhesions on the penis.

Balanitis can be painful and make urinating more difficult. If untreated, it can cause swollen and painful glands as well as weakness and fatigue.

Invasive candidiasis

A yeast infection may enter the bloodstream. This is known as candidemia or invasive candidiasis.

This is most common in people who wait to receive treatment until the infection has spread beyond the penis. It is also more common in those with weakened immune systems.

If you’ve been in a hospital and used a catheter to urinate, you may be more likely to face invasive candidiasis. This advanced form of yeast infection is very serious.

Oral antifungal medications may be needed for several weeks. In some cases, the drugs are administered intravenously.

If your infection is treated early and responds well to antifungal medication, it can clear up within 7 to 14 days.

If you are sexually active, your partner should also be treated for a yeast infection to avoid passing the infection on to them, or back to you.

If you get repeated yeast infections and can rule out causes like hygiene and sexual contact, talk with a doctor about other possible causes. You may have an underlying health condition, such as diabetes.

You can help prevent a penile yeast infection by avoiding sexual contact with a partner who has a yeast infection.

You should also avoid having sex with anyone while you have an active yeast infection, as you could pass the infection back to your partner. This could cause the two of you to pass an infection back and forth.

To lower the risk of getting a yeast infection or passing one along, do the following:

  • Wear an external condom each time you have sex to help reduce your chances of developing a yeast infection.
  • Practice good hygiene, and keep your penis and genitals clean and dry.
  • If you are uncircumcised, clean under the foreskin with soap and water, and return your foreskin to its usual position after you have sexual intercourse.

Penile yeast infections are not as common as vaginal yeast infections, but they do occur. They may result from poor hygiene or sex with a partner who has a vaginal yeast infection without using an external condom.

Symptoms include small white patches and redness on the skin as well as itchiness or burning. If left untreated, it can also cause other conditions and complications.

Topical antifungal ointments and creams can typically treat the infection and reduce the risk of long-term complications.