Yeast infections are typically identified with women, but they do occur in men as well – and are one of the causes of a persistently itchy penis that wreaks havoc on a man. When a yeast infection is responsible for the itchy penis, it moves from an annoyance and inconvenience into a penis health concern, so taking steps to treat or prevent the condition is essential. One avenue men may want to explore is the possible use of probiotics as a preventive measure.
When an itchy penis is caused by a yeast infection, it is often called candidiasis – but since that word is a mouthful, men more commonly call it “thrush.” The yeast that creates thrush is a fungus known as candida albicans, which occurs naturally in the body and is very common. Like all fungi, it thrives in warm, moist areas, which is why the penis is an attractive spot for it to appear.
Thrush generally presents as an itchy rash on the tip of the penis (and on the foreskin in intact men). It can cause soreness as well, especially when urinating. Intact men may also experience an increase in smegma when thrush is present.
Although thrush can be passed on during sex, it is not considered a sexually-transmitted infection. And for some reason, it is more often found among men who are not sexually active!
Now that thrush has been explored, what about probiotics? What are they and why might they help with thrush?
One reason why candida albicans tends to overgrow beyond its normal levels and create a yeast infection is because the immune system may be operating at too low a level. This can happen for a number of reasons. For example, taking steroids or antibiotics can lead to a suppressed immune system. When that happens, “good” bacteria – the kind that keep candida albicans in check – are diminished, and so thrush has an opportunity to take hold and grow.
That’s where probiotics come in. Probiotics are some of the “good” bacteria referenced above. They are active in the digestive tract, and they can help prevent the growth of unwanted yeast in there.
Several studies have shown that probiotics help the gut keep candida albicans under control and thus can help prevent thrush from occurring. So including probiotics in the diet, especially if the immune system is suppressed, can help prevent an itchy penis.
There have been no studies yet to indicate whether using probiotics on an already-active case of thrush can help it to go away. In such cases, a man should consult with his doctor to determine what course of treatment may be best for dealing with active thrush. Usually the application of an antifungal medication will have good results.
Men who are interested in adding probiotics to their diet to help prevent thrush should still consult with their doctors and/or a nutritionist in advance (as they should with any significant dietary changes they are contemplating).
Probiotics may be a good preventive measure against thrush, but there may be many other causes for an itchy penis. Often the symptoms of an itchy penis may respond to the use of a top penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin). Itchiness is often caused by, or exacerbated by, dry penis skin. Therefore, select a crème with both a high-end emollient (such as Shea butter) and a natural hydrator (such as vitamin E). This combination of hydrators helps create a “moisture shield” to strengthen penis skin. The crème should also include alpha lipoic acid, a potent antioxidant, which keeps skin healthy by fighting the free radicals that can damage penis skin cells.