Candidiasis, or thrush, is a fungal infection that can be transmitted to male genitalia through sexual intercourse with an infected individual. However, candidiasis is not limited to sexual transmission and is therefore not classed as an STI, since the yeast that causes it can be found on all surfaces of the body. Candidiasis can form in all areas, though usually limited to areas of the body with high moisture levels. Candidiasis is not uncommon in infants, since their low immunity makes them vulnerable. Individuals who suffer from any conditions that affect their immune system, such as HIV or AIDS, may have further complications such as esophagitis, meningitis, endocarditis or joint issues, since the body cannot effectively fight off the infection.
The fungus that causes candidiasis are from the candida species, which encompasses all types of yeast, which is why it is often referred to as a yeast infection. Low immunity, antibiotics and some steroids can encourage ‘dormant’ fungi (usually supressed by other microorganisms in the body) to thrive. High blood glucose levels in patients with diabetes mellitus type 1 or 2 can encourage the candida fungus to breed. Candidiasis may also be referred to as candidosis, moniliasis or oidiomycosis. While it is commonly associated with women, it can also affect men.
Common infection sites include the mouth (oral candidiasis), the skin (candidal skin infection) and the head of the penis (penile candidiasis). So what should you look out for?
Symptoms of penile candidiasis include:
– Red skin around the head of the penis
– Swelling of the head of the penis
– An acute, severe itch
– Pain when passing urine
– Pain during sex
– Unpleasant smelling, thick, lumpy discharge
If you are noticing any of these symptoms for the first time, the NHS recommend that you should visit your GP for advice on how to treat your symptoms. For further NHS advice on symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment and complications, follow the link at the bottom of this post.
What can you do to prevent candidiasis from occurring?
The human body contains a certain amount of yeast. If your immune system is compromised due to a course of antibiotics or steroids, it is advised to practice safe sex in order to minimise the risk of infection. The most effective way of doing this is to use a condom, since the latex will block any transference between respective genitalia.
Cleaning your penis regularly will also cut down the likelihood of candidiasis occurring, since any yeast will simply be washed away before it can germinate. Ensure that after washing, your penis is dried thoroughly, as any yeast that may be left behind will thrive. Avoid any perfumed cleaning products, since these may cause irritation during the onset of candidiasis.
Another simple method of prevention is to wear loose fitting cotton underwear in order to prevent any significant build-up of moisture under your foreskin.
If you are worried about candidiasis or have any further queries, please contact your GP.
Written by Kat Kraetzer, an experienced blogger working in the health-care industry for many years.