Anonymous on September 29, 2011

Could this rash on my penis be a yeast infection? Can men get yeast infections?

I have cracked skin on the tip of my foreskin. It’s not painful, itchy or sore and it feels just like the other skin around it. The only difference is that its "blemished" color makes it stand out. I have had unprotected sex once (due to a condom break), but I have had this blemish ever since I can remember - even before I became sexually active. Occasionally, when I masturbate too much it will get red and irritated, and the dead skin may scab. I got checked for STDs at a clinic twice, and it wasn't diagnosed as anything...and from what I gather online, what I have is similar to a yeast rash. I thought it was more common for girls to get yeast infections. What’s your advice?

answered by Lisa Oldson, MD on September 29, 2011

I appreciate your question, and I hope to help you put your symptoms in context.

The good news is that the “blemish” you describe could be a simple irritation or dermatitis...especially since you have had it before you became sexually active. This could be caused by irritation from soaps, laundry detergents or fragrances. There are other skin conditions that could cause a chronic spot like this including yeast infections, as you mentioned, and psoriasis or eczema, to name a few. 

To find out whether you have dermatitis or another skin condition with similar symptoms, I suggest that you see your regular doctor for a visual examination of your skin. 

Your mentioned that you got checked for STDs at a clinic...that’s great news, but do you know exactly what you were tested for? In other words, did you provide blood and urine samples in order to get tested for a full panel of common STDs? If not, I suggest that you do so...even one instance of unprotected sex may have put you at risk for one or more STDs, especially if you engaged in sexual activity with a partner who’s STD status you don’t know.

If you test negative for common STDs like herpes 1 and 2, hepatitis B and C, HIV, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you’re STD-free. And if you test positive for an STD, you’ll be better informed to get treated, if necessary, and avoid potential long-term complications from untreated STDs. 

Now, regarding your other question...

Yes, men can get yeast infections, too. In men, yeast infections may cause a reddish rash, along with burning or itching at the head of the penis. 

It’s rare for yeast infections to be transmitted sexually, but it can happen...according to the Mayo Clinic, it's possible for a man to get a genital yeast infection through unprotected intercourse with a sexual partner who has a yeast infection. 

Other causes for yeast infections in men can include prolonged use of antibiotics. Also, people with diabetes or a weakened immune system are more vulnerable to yeast infections. And uncircumcised men are more prone to yeast infections even when they don’t have underlying health issues like those listed above. 

Since your symptoms have persisted, I urge you to consult your regular doctor who may be able to give you an immediate answer, or who may refer you to a dermatologist for a consultation. 

Thanks for writing, and I wish you good luck in resolving the cause of your symptoms.

Related info:

Lisa Oldson, MD

Dr. Oldson is Medical Director of the Analyte Physicians Group. She is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Clinical Instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her areas of expertise include STDs (with a particular clinical emphasis on herpes), women's health, preventive medicine, diabetes, obesity and weight management, and mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Oldson was educated at Rush Medical College and completed her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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