Thrush is caused by fungi named Candida albicans. This fungus is initially present in a lot of people, and it does not affect or cause any trouble since its negative effects are regulated by the healthy bacteria and the individual’s immune system. When the balance of the healthy bacteria is thrown off-charts, or when the immune system becomes compromised, this fungus can develop into an infection. For example, taking antibiotics can unbalance the bacteria in the body, making an individual more susceptible to a thrush infection.
Fungi are normally prone to developing in damp, warm and moist areas. It is important to thoroughly dry the genital region after washing to reduce the risk of thrush infection. The moist region, enclosed in the underwear provides an ideal environment for the fungus to thrive on. Candida are also attracted more to damaged skin, and irritating chemicals present in overly scented hygiene products can damage the skin making men more prone to infection
A lot of underlying diseases compromise the body’s immune system. These diseases include but are not limited to diabetes, HPV, HIV etc. These diseases weaken the immune system; in return, the body loses its power to fight off the invading infections as quickly as it would in healthier conditions. With no internal protection, thrush infection increases as there is nothing to stop the fungus multiplying.
Many men do not experience any symptoms at all. If the symptoms do appear, they may include:
Difficulty and pain when pulling back the foreskin or retracting it back to the original position
Smelly white discharge under their foreskin
Red patches or red coloured skin at the penis tip or foreskin
Itching, burning or irritation in the penile area.
Initially, thrush begins as an itching red rash, which later develops red spots, leading to scaling of the skin. In the later stages, a yellowish-white discharge is produced from the skin, or the skin turns into a thick, white infection.
Thrush does not only affect the genital areas. It can also develop anywhere where the skin folds together in a resting condition. These areas include anal regions, spaces between your fingers and toes, back of the ears and armpits. Obese people who have folding skin due to excessive fat can also develop thrush in the abdominal region. It is also possible to get thrush in the mouth.
When thrush affects the genital regions, Fluconazole is usually recommended, but for other areas of infection, anti-fungal creams containing Imidazole may be recommended. If symptoms do not resolve within 1-2 weeks, Imidazole will likely be replaced by Fluconazole.
Imidazole treats thrush by reducing the number of fungi in the affected area. It kills the fungi by destroying the fungal cell membrane. Different Imidazole based formulas are available in the market such as miconazole, ketoconazole, econazole, clotrimazole etc. Most of these formulas do not need a prescription for purchase and often carry no side effects. The only side effect experienced commonly is the burning sensation after application; some people also complain of skin irritation. Seek medical attention in case of side effect occurrence.
Fluconazole is an oral tablet. Also available without prescription, Fluconazole treats thrush infection by killing fungi through destroying body enzymes that the fungi are surviving upon. Most common side effects of this medication are increased levels of flatulence, diarrhoea, stomach-ache and nausea.
Avoid sexual relations
It is best to avoid having sex if you have thrush. This will help prevent it from spreading to other parts of your body or to your partner. However, if you do have sex while thrush is present, you should use a condom and avoid touching the thrush directly.
Practice Good Hygiene
In case of thrush infection, good hygiene can solve the problem quicker than medication alone. Avoid scented hygienic products and long hot baths. Take quick showers instead, washing the affected area very carefully with warm water. After the bath, dry the area thoroughly, and wear loose clothing. This will help keep the affected area cool and dry, preventing the growth of candida. When drying yourself after a shower, do not use the towel anywhere else after touching the infected area. Ensure that you wash the towel before using it again.