Why is My Penis Itchy?

Itching in the genital area is common and usually not a reason to worry. But in some cases itching near the penis can indicate a health problem like balanitis or a sexually transmitted infection.

The good news is that many of these causes are treatable. Preventing irritation may include avoiding scented soaps and shower gels, using breathable underwear, switching condom materials if you have an allergy to latex, and always washing your hands after sex.

Causes

Itching in the genital area can be uncomfortable, embarrassing and irritating. And it can occur at the most inconvenient times. So, it’s important to determine the cause of the itch as soon as possible. It could be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) like herpes, genital warts, chlamydia or gonorrhea or an internal condition such as candidiasis (male thrush), pubic lice or scabies.

If you’re uncircumcised and have the foreskin remaining, irritants like friction can lead to balanitis, an inflammation of the head of the penis. Balanitis can be caused by bacterial infections, chemicals or allergies. In addition, it may be a sign of an underlying condition like diabetes or HIV.

Other genital itchy conditions include lichen planus, a chronic skin condition that causes red scaly patches. Lichen planus usually affects the elbows, knees and hands but can also spread to the genital area. Another genital condition is psoriasis, which causes flaky, dry and itchy patches of skin. A painful genital itch can also indicate Peyronie’s disease, a condition that leads to hard lumps of scar tissue forming inside the shaft of the penis. Other symptoms of Peyronie’s disease include itching, pain and a painful erection that is one-sided. The lumps can be filled with yellow or greenish pus-like discharge. Some people can also experience a burning sensation along with itching.

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Home Remedies

Men may be able to find relief from penile itching caused by sexually transmitted infections or skin conditions with home remedies and OTC treatments. If the itching is severe or persistent, a doctor should be consulted.

Gently washing the penis and pubic area with mild soap or anti-itch cream can help relieve itching. Some anecdotal evidence suggests that applying a diluted apple cider vinegar solution to the genital area can help reduce itching and swelling. Baking soda can also be used to soothe itching and pain caused by yeast infections or thrush by making a paste and applying to the affected area.

If itching is due to a bacterial infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Antifungal medications can also be prescribed to treat fungal infections that cause itching of the penis. If the itching is caused by an STI, the doctor may recommend lubrication and condom use during sexual activity. Using cotton or bamboo underwear in the genital area can help prevent friction and irritation that leads to itching, inflammation and infection.

If the itching is accompanied by burning or pain while urinating or by a discharge from the penis, urethritis may be the culprit. This condition is characterized by inflammation of the urethra and may be accompanied by itching of the glans or the foreskin. The doctor can diagnose urethritis by looking at the patient’s history and taking a sample of the urine or any discharge for testing.

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Medicine

Penile itching can sometimes be a sign of a medical condition that requires treatment. If the itching is severe or accompanied by pain, a rash or discharge from the penis, a doctor should be seen. A doctor can prescribe over-the-counter topical medications and prescription antifungal creams to treat the itching. Oral antihistamines can also help to reduce the itching.

Candidiasis (male thrush) is an infection caused by a yeast that can lead to itching around the head of the penis, foreskin or shaft. It may be accompanied by a red rash and white, cottage cheese-like discharge. Some over-the-counter creams can be used to treat thrush. If thrush does not improve with over-the-counter treatments, a doctor should be seen.

Genital herpes (HSV) is another condition that can cause itching in the glans penis, foreskin and the entire pubic area. It is a sexually transmitted disease that can be spread by contact with an infected partner. If a person has herpes, they can have itching in the foreskin and other areas of their body for years before it goes away on its own.

Balanitis is a condition that causes the head of the penis to be swollen and sore (inflamed). It usually looks red, but it can look less obvious on darker skin. It can be painful and itchy, especially if the skin is broken or damaged.

See a Doctor

There are a number of medical reasons why the penis may be itchy. Some, like contact dermatitis or eczema, are easily treated at home by avoiding the things that trigger them. Others, such as genital warts, require a doctor’s care to resolve.

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If the itching is accompanied by pain during urination, puss or a rash, you should seek medical attention immediately. This may indicate a sexually transmitted infection or other serious problem.

Ingrown hairs, jock itch or skin conditions such as psoriasis or lichen planus can also cause itching in the groin area. If you are experiencing these symptoms, talk to your GP or dermatologist.

A rash in the head of the penis is called balanitis and is common in men of all ages. It can be caused by a bacterial infection, chemical, allergy or virus. It is more likely to occur in those who wear tight-fitting clothes or who exercise in the heat.

The itchiness associated with balanitis is normally itchy and red but sometimes it can be painful or have blisters. Usually, treatment is with antibiotics or an antifungal cream. Some people may find relief with an antihistamine. If a rash is accompanied by itching on other parts of the body, you should see your doctor for a full health screening and treatment. This could include a swab to be sent for analysis, which can determine the cause of the rash.

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