Thrush is medically termed as candidiasis. While it commonly occurs in women, it can also occur in men. It is a yeast infection which needs to be treated as soon as possible.
Appearance of Thrush
Thrush is a sexually transmitted infection which can affect the head of the penis, making it appear red, leaking discharge and feel irritated. Thrush can also affect men in the mouth, causing sores on the inside of the mouth.
Causes of Candidiasis
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 individual’s immune system.
Role of Internal Body Mechanism
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, a person is taking an antibiotic for some disease, which leads to an unbalanced state of healthy bacteria in the body, that person becomes susceptible to thrush infection if he already has the fungus in his system.
Role of Hygiene
Fungi are normally prone to developing in damp, warm and moist areas. For men who do not dry their penile regions after washing, they carry a higher 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 skin making men more prone to infection
Role of Underlying Diseases
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 multiplication.
Signs and Symptoms of Candidiasis
Many men do not experience any symptoms at all. If the symptoms do appear, they include:
- Men experience difficulty and pain when pulling back their foreskin or retracting it back to original position
- Men experience smelly white discharge under their foreskin which might look similar to yeast infection
- Men experience red patches or red coloured skin at the penis tip or foreskin
- Few men experience itching, burning or irritation in the penile area.
Thrush does not only affect the genital areas. It can also develop anywhere where there 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 abdominal region.
Initially candidiasis 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.
Diagnosis of Candidiasis
Thrush is normally diagnosed by any health provider, general physician or contraceptive clinic. The providers look at the condition of the affected area, and draw their conclusions accordingly. Often men mistake bacterial skin infection and other conditions as thrush. Health providers can confirm the infection present in the individual. If symptoms of thrush are severe, or recurring, then a proper testing may be required. In such conditions, a small cotton swab is used to obtain tissue sample which is then tested microbiologically for any invading agents.
For candidiasis affecting body areas other than genital region, anti-fungal creams containing imidazole are the best treatment options. For genital regions, fluconazole is recommended if in case imidazole doesn’t work within a week or two.
Imidazole treats candidiasis 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.
While imidazole is a topical ointment, 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.
If a man is suffering from thrush infection, he needs to observe following precautions in order to stop the infection from becoming worse.
Avoid sexual relations
Sex should be avoided until the infection has subsided. If the infected person still decides to have sex, he should use proper precaution in order to avoid infecting his partner. Often at times, men experience inflammation on their penis tip if their female partner has thrush infection. In such cases, the female partner needs to be treated as soon as possible.
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 carefully, and wear loose clothing. This will help keep the affected area cool and dry, preventing growth of candida.
If an immune system is terribly weak, candidiasis can quickly spread throughout the body. This condition is termed as invasive candidiasis, and the infection can reach the blood stream if not stopped on time. Symptoms of this complication include headaches, nausea, shivering and high fever. This condition is a medical emergency in which the patient has to be admitted into an intensive care unit as soon as possible.
If men experience any form of symptoms that might make them think they are suffering from thrush infection, they should seek out medical advice immediately in order to stop the problem in time.