Candidiasis in men: how the infection arises – 04/03/2024 – Balance

Candidiasis in men: how the infection arises – 04/03/2024 – Balance


Despite being more common in women than men, candidiasis, an infection caused by the fungus Candida albicans which causes itching and burning in private parts, can also affect men.

A Candida albicans is a type of fungus that normally coexists in balance in the human microbiota, and is part of the body’s healthy microorganisms. But this organism is considered “opportunistic,” meaning it can cause infections when conditions are favorable.

When something causes the amount of fungus to increase too much, the body goes into imbalance and the infection known as candidiasis appears. There are some specific reasons why this uncontrolled increase in the fungus is more common in females.

Hormonal fluctuations that occur during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, use of hormonal contraceptives, or hormone replacement therapy can affect vaginal pH, creating a more favorable environment for yeast growth.

Furthermore, the vagina, being moist and warm, offers a favorable environment for the excessive growth of the fungus. Candida when the balance of vaginal flora is disturbed.

“But in the case of the penis, leaving the organ stuffy and moist through prolonged use of wet clothes (beach trunks, for example) or diapers causes the same risk”, explains Bianca Macedo, member of the Department of Infections and Inflammations of the Brazilian Society. of Urology.

There are also other factors that can contribute to the infection appearing in men. According to Macedo, among them are:

  • Lack of adequate genital hygiene;
  • Excess preputial skin.

And for both sexes:

  • Diabetes (as the fungus benefits from high glucose levels);
  • Frequent use of antibiotics, (which eliminate beneficial microorganisms that normally control the growth of Candida albicans);
  • Diseases that compromise the immune system, as well as other causes of decreased immunity, such as chemotherapy, malnutrition and drug use.

In women, it can happen to have a type of white secretion, in pieces, that looks like cream in milk, along with a burning sensation in the intimate area, discomfort when urinating and pain during sex.

“Men tend to present small red spots on the penis, mild edema and lesions in the form of dots. And both genders suffer from intense itching”, says the doctor.

It is important to highlight that candidiasis is not considered an STI (sexually transmitted infection), as its main form of emergence is through the factors described above.

“Still, continuous skin-to-skin contact, especially in intimate situations, can result in contagion”, warns Macedo.

Diagnosis and treatment of candidiasis in men

The diagnosis is usually clinical, carried out visually by experienced doctors, who can identify the infection without the need for tests.

However, in cases of doubt or lesions that are difficult to treat, tests such as germ isolation or biopsies may be requested.

“Diagnosis for different types of candidiasis can be made through scrapings (collection of tissue or fluid samples from affected areas), which analyze the lesions and enable the identification of different strains of the fungus. However, treatment is often is started without the need for this exam”, says Alex Meller, urologist at Santa Paula Hospital.

“A Candida albicans It proliferates more quickly and may be more difficult to treat in immunocompromised patients. But in most cases, the infection is self-limiting, with spontaneous improvement within a period of two to three days,”

In addition to maintaining good hygiene, the treatment of candidiasis in men may include the use of specific ointments and antifungal tablets.

Treatment in men is often carried out with topical antifungals, such as creams, for 3 to 5 days, and the use of oral tablets may also be indicated, in some cases, as a single dose.

According to Meller, complications are rare, but in exceptional cases, men can develop secondary phimosis. This occurs when inflammation and healing difficulties result in an injury that reduces the elasticity of the skin, making it difficult for the foreskin (the skin that covers the head of the penis) to retract.

Other types of candidiasis

Candidiasis can also manifest itself in other parts of the body depending on whether there are favorable environments for its growth.

In babies and children, the most common form of thrush is oral, also known as thrush, which occurs on the lips, inside the mouth and in the throat. The infection manifests as white spots on the tongue, inside the cheeks and in the throat, causing discomfort when swallowing and a burning sensation.

Another possible manifestation of candidiasis is on the skin, usually in moist and warm areas, such as armpits, groin and under the breasts. The condition causes red patches of skin, often accompanied by intense itching and peeling of the skin.

Candidiasis can also affect the intestinal system, where the fungus multiplies due to imbalances in the intestinal flora, such as prolonged use of antibiotics or conditions that weaken the immune system. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation, and the appearance of small whitish residues in the stool.

Finally, systemic candidiasis is a more serious form of the infection, in which the fungus spreads throughout the body through the bloodstream.

This often affects people with weakened immune systems, such as patients with untreated HIV and AIDS, transplant recipients, or those being treated with immunosuppressant medications.

Symptoms can be diverse and include fever, chills, muscle and joint pain, as well as potentially fatal complications if not treated properly.

In all types of candidiasis, treatment involves the use of antifungals, whether in the form of ointments, tablets or solutions, and in more serious cases, specialized medical monitoring may be necessary.


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