Yeast Infections in Men: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

When most people hear the words “Yeast Infection” they tend to think of women.

According to a study, 75% of women get a yeast infection at least once in their lives. However, yeast infections aren’t exclusive to women. Men can, and do, get yeast infections too. Though uncommon, yeast infection in men can be very dangerous. 

While men are much less likely to get yeast infections than women, they should still know the signs and symptoms, as well as what to do if they think they might be suffering from a yeast infection.

If left untreated, a yeast infection can cause serious, even life-threatening complications. Luckily, treating a yeast infection can be quick, easy, and affordable, three things anyone suffering from a yeast infection will be glad to hear.

Types of Yeast Infections in Men

Most yeast infections are caused by the fungus Candida Albicans, which is commonly present on the skin, genitals, mouths, and gastrointestinal tracts of both men and women.

Normally, this naturally occurring yeast is nothing to worry about. Most healthy immune systems keep it from growing out of control.

But some circumstances can lower the body’s ability to fight off the yeast, resulting in an overgrowth of yeast, known as Candidiasis, or a yeast infection, which can cause itching, pain, redness, rashes, and more.

This can happen in a variety of places on and in the human body.

Mouth and Throat Yeast Infection

The most common instance of this is oral thrush, a yeast infection of the mouth and throat that generally presents with a sore throat, redness, and patches of white on the throat and tongue.

Genital Yeast Infections in Men

Candida overgrowth also frequently occurs on the genitals. In men, this is known as a genital yeast infection or penile yeast infection.

When this fungus affects the penis, it is considered a penile yeast infection,’ penile thrush,’ or genital thrush’ and can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from the slightly uncomfortable to very serious.

If the infection affects the head of the penis, it is known as candidal balantis or balantis thrush.

Balantis is incredibly dangerous and can lead to serious complications. However, there is plenty you can do to reduce your risk of a penile yeast infection.

What Causes Yeast Infections in Men?

Yeast infections in men are caused by the same thing that causes yeast infections in women; genital candidiasis, an infection of the genitals by a fungus called candida.

There are a number of things that can contribute to the growth of candida, causing even a healthy male to develop a yeast infection.

In order for yeast to cause actual symptoms, there has to be an overgrowth of yeast on the genitals. Yeast thrive in warm, moist areas, of which the human body has many.

Did you know?

In fact, the groin area is one of the best places for yeast to grow, since it is usually one of the warmest parts of the body. According to Everyday Health, it is believed that up to 26% of men carry candida on their bodies, generally without symptoms of infection. 

So, what causes some men to carry candida completely without issues while others end up with an itchy, painful infection?

The answer is a combination of risk factors and exposure. If you know your risk factors and can limit your exposure, you might actually be able to avoid ever getting an infection.

There’s always a chance of sudden exposure and unavoidable risks, but it’s best to do all you can to prevent an overgrowth of the candida yeast.

Infection Risks and Ways of Prevention

Usually, the body’s immune system keeps the candida yeast from growing out of control, but there are some situations that can lower the body’s natural defenses, making a yeast infection more likely.

Luckily, once you know the risks, you can take steps to reduce them. You could even end up preventing a male yeast infection entirely.

1

Unprotected Sex with An Infected Person

First, the big question: can you get a yeast infection by having sex with a woman who has a yeast infection. The short answer, usually not.

However, it can happen, especially if any other contributing factors are present. An immuno-compromised person or someone with diabetes runs a much higher risk of contracting a yeast infection through sexual contact.

Interestingly, while genital candidiasis can be contracted through sexual activity, it isn’t considered a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) or STI, since candida frequently occurs on the body and is so rarely passed from person to person. ​

2​​​​​

A Compromised Immune System

compromised immune system

Image credits: GettyImages

Most male yeast infections are the result, at least in part, to a compromised immune system. This includes men who are HIV positive, or have AIDS or leukemia.

The immune system can also be suppressed when the body is recovering from major illness, injury, or infection.

3

Use of Antibiotics or Immuno-Suppressants

It might seem counterintuitive, but antibiotics can actually lead to the development of a yeast infection.

A single course of antibiotics is rarely enough to damage the body’s immune system, but prolonged use of broad-spectrum antibiotics can diminish healthy bacteria both in and on the body, making a yeast infection more likely.

Immuno-suppressant medications are also problematic. While it is sometimes necessary to use medication to suppress your immune system, it can also reduce your body’s ability to fight off candida yeast.

If you take immune system suppressing medications, make sure to minimize your risk for infection by knowing and preventing the other contributed factors.

4

Diabetes

diabetes

Diabetes is so likely to contribute to the growth of candida that frequent yeast infections can actually be a sign of undiagnosed diabetes.

If you’ve had multiple genital yeast infections, especially in a short time period, you should ask your doctor about testing for diabetes.

5

Diet and Weight

There isn’t much information on whether diet alone can be a contributing factor for the development of a yeast infection.

However, if you have diabetes, the food you eat could affect the growth of candida, since yeast thrive on sugars in and on the body. Obesity or being overweight can be an issue as well.

6

Close Fitting Underwear and Clothing

Since candida thrives in warm, moist environments, tight fitting clothes and underwear can be a contributing factor in the development of a yeast infection.

This is especially true if you tend to sweat during the day or don’t shower immediately after working out. Wearing loose fitting clothing and lightweight, breathable underwear can keep you cool and dry, limiting the opportunity for candida to grow.

7

Heat and Humidity

While a few hot days are unlikely to cause an issue, spending too much time in a hot humid environment increases the possibility of a yeast infection.

When it gets too hot, remember to take frequent showers, stay as cool as you can, and avoid close fitting garments.

8

Perfumed or Irritating Toiletries

If your body wash, deodorant, shampoo, or other toiletries cause irritation, throw them out and look for something made for sensitive skin.

When skin becomes irritated or is scratched due to itching, it creates small abrasions. While you may not ever see these abrasions, they can still harbor yeast and bacteria, leading to an infection.

9

Hygiene Issues

Keeping your body clean and dry is one of the biggest steps you can take to prevent a yeast infection. People who have difficulty maintaining good hygiene due to illness, injury, or disability are more likely to develop an infection.

The use of a central venous catheter (CVC) or dialysis can also allow candida and bacteria into the body, resulting in a higher chance of a candida infection.

10

Being Uncircumcised

Okay, so there’s not too much you can do about this one, but uncircumcised men are more likely to develop yeast infections, simply because of the extra folds and crevices caused by an intact foreskin.

To limit this factor, be sure to wash thoroughly with a mild soap or body wash every time you bathe and hit the shower as soon as you finish working out.

If this isn’t enough and you find yourself contracting multiple yeast infections or a yeast infection that doesn’t go away, your doctor might suggest circumcision as a last resort option.

Signs and Symptoms of a Yeast Infection

Men who carry candida often have no symptoms of infection. By the time an infection progresses to the point of showing symptoms, it can be incredibly painful.

Luckily, diagnosis is fairly easy and treatment is generally both quick and affordable.

The following signs can help you to determine whether you might have a yeast infection. However, you shouldn’t self diagnose.

A candida infection has symptoms similar to both jock itch and some STDs. If you suspect a yeast infection, make an appointment to see your doctor. Your doctor will examine you, test for the presence of candida, and ensure that it isn’t something more serious.

1

Itching, Burning, and Irritation

The most obvious sign of a yeast infection in men is a very uncomfortable itching and burning feeling on the penis and sometimes the surrounding areas as well.

The irritation is similar to jock itch, but is usually more painful. Men with genital candidiasis may also experience discomfort and pain during sex or while urinating.

2

A Red Rash with White Patches

Similar to jock itch, candida comes with a painful red rash. This rash often has white patches or specks. In some cases, there may also be small, pus filled papules, further indicating the presence of candida.

3

Foul Smelling Discharge

Since a yeast infection consists of an overgrowth of candida yeast, there are often obvious signs of that yeast’s presence. This can be in the form of a foul smelling discharge that is often thick, lumpy, and white.

4

Swelling of the Genitals and Balantis

Genital candidiasis can cause swelling of the genitals, especially at the head of the penis. This can progress to an issue called balantis, which primarily consists of very painful swelling of the head of the penis.

Of the 26% of men who carry candida, 27% develop balantis. Because of this, it is incredibly important to treat yeast infections as quickly as possible.

10 Simple Ways to Treat Yeast Infections in Men

Once you know that you have a yeast infection, you will have a few different treatment options.

Your doctor will probably recommend an over the counter antifungal cream to treat the infection and may prescribe a steroid cream to deal with the itching and irritation. 

You have a variety of treatment options available when treating a penile yeast infection. These include:

1

Prescription Medications

Depending on how severe your infection is, your doctor may prescribe an oral antifungal medication.

Your doctor may prescribe stronger treatments depending on the severity of your infection and any risk factors that might be present. These include antifungals and steroids in oral or cream form.

In very rare cases, surgical treatment may be necessary, for example, when the foreskin is intact and you’ve had frequent or prolonged yeast infections. Since these are only available with a prescription, we won’t talk more about them here.

However, there are over the counter anti-fungals and steroids that doctors often recommend. We will talk about those and look at some of the most popular options.

2

Non-Prescription Treatments

Your doctor may recommend a prescription-strength cream, but more likely, they will suggest an over the counter version like Monistat or Lotrimin. These are similar to the recommended treatment for jock itch or athletes foot.

Antifungal creams are popular for yeast infections because they quickly kill the candida yeast, allowing you to begin healing. You may even notice relief as early as the first day of treatment.

The antifungal cream is applied to the affected area once or twice daily for the length of treatment which can range anywhere from 3 to 21 days. Side effects are rare and you have a variety of different antifungal creams to choose from.

Monistat 7-Day Yeast Infection Treatment with External Itch Relief Cream

This is one of the best selling treatment options available for candida yeast infections. From Monistat, one of the top names in antifungals, it features a low dose 100 mg Miconazole Nitrate antifungal cream.

The treatment takes a little longer than other, higher dose creams, but is a lighter option for sensitive skin. Since we’re talking about the most sensitive skin you have, that may be something you want to consider when choosing your antifungal cream.

According to Monitstat’s website, “only 7-day topical yeast infection treatments are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the treatment of yeast infections in pregnant and diabetic women.”

While the site only talks about women, it may be safe to assume that a 7-Day treatment is probably the better option for diabetic men as well. This product comes with 7 pre-measured daily applicators and a separate tube to be used to ease symptoms during treatment.

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Monistat 3-Day Treatment Combination Pack

Like their 7-Day treatment, Monistat’s 3-Day treatment features a miconazole nitrate antifungal cream.

This version features a higher amount of miconazole nitrate at 2% strength with 200 mg of miconazole nitrate per dose.

For many men and women, this is preferred, as it can work more quickly, with only 3 days of treatment, recommended to be used at night. It comes with 3 pre-filled applicators and a separate tube of antifungal cream for use during the day.

If you’re looking for a quick solution, this is a fantastic option.

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3

Anti-Itch Creams and Wipes

While you’re waiting on your anti-fungal to work, you can find relief from the itching, burning, and other pain using anti-itch creams and wipes. Some use steroid-based creams. Others use pain-relieving analgesics, like benzocaine and resorcinol.

Vagisil Maximum Strength Anti-Itch Cream with Benzocaine

There’s nothing like an analgesic cream to ease the symptoms of a yeast infection. This cream features a combination of two powerful analgesics, benzocaine (20%) and Resorcinol (3%) to soothe itching, burning, and other pain.

The hypoallergenic formula is great for sensitive skin, while a combination of moisturizers help skin to heal.

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Vagisil Anti-Itch Medicated Wipes

These medicated wipes are perfect for providing soothing relief while also leaving you feeling fresh and clean.

They ease itching, burning, and other yeast infection symptoms with the analgesic pramoxine hydrochloride (1%) and a gentle, moisturizing formula.

According to Vagisil’s website, these wipes also feature “Odor Block™ Technology” to reduce any smell caused by your yeast infection.

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4

Probiotics and Yogurt

Of all the non-medicinal treatments on this list, probiotics are certainly the most popular.

Yeast infections throw off your body’s natural balance, reducing good bacteria that protects you from harmful bacteria and fungi.

In fact, a review published in 2006 found that some probiotics can be effective against Candida Albicans, the yeast that causes genital yeast infections, as well as other infections like thrush.

During a yeast infection, you’ll want to boost your body’s good bacteria with a decent probiotic. This can be as simple as adding yogurt to your diet, though you’ll want to choose a sugar free option, since sugar actually helps yeast to grow. You can even apply the yogurt topically to target the candida fungi and soothe your skin.

If yogurt isn’t your thing, you might want to consider an oral probiotic. And great news, there are probiotics designed specifically for preventing and recovering from yeast infections.

Here are three of the best probiotics.

Love Bug Probiotics Yeast is a Beast Probiotic Tablets

Love Bug probiotics is well known for their feminine care products, but the same features that make their "Yeast is a Beast" tablets so great for women also make them perfect for you.

They utilize live active cultures in an easy to take daily time release tablet that provides an all day boost to your body’s natural bacteria. The formula lowers the body’s pH, slowing the growth of yeast.

It also features natural cranberry and D-mannose which support urinary tract health, lessening the odds that the yeast will make it into your urinary tract, or worse, up to your kidneys. It should come as no surpise then, that this is our favorite probiotic option.

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Physician’s Choice - Doctor Approved Probiotics for Men and Women

We have to give the Physician’s Choice brand kudos for recognizing that men need probiotics too.

They’ve clearly done their homework, and their products reflect that commitment to clinical research. This probiotic is a wonderful example of that clinical research. These powerful probiotic tablets have 60 billion CFU in each serving with 10 probiotic strains and GMO-free, vegan ingredients.

They’re great for reducing yeast in and on your body. They’re also fantastic for digestive health.

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AZO Complete Feminine Balance Women’s Daily Probiotic

Don't let the name fool you. This product is as beneficial for men as it is for women. Best known for their urinary tract infection relief medicine. AZO’s products are top of the line and loved for the fact that they work quickly.

This daily probiotic features fewer strains than some probiotics, but they’re specifically chosen to combat candida yeast growth and encourage a healthy urinary tract.

Even better, this probiotic has been clinically proven to reduce candida growth and restore natural flora in as few as 7 days. If you’re looking for a sure thing, this probiotic is a great bet.

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5

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar

When it comes to herbal treatments and home remedies, there is probably nothing quite as popular as apple cider vinegar. Apple Cider Vinegar is touted for everything from digestive issues and weight loss to shrinking tumors.​

And while we can’t say anything about its effect on cancer, apple cider vinegar’s benefits have been proven time and time again.

According to WebMD, “vinegar has been used as a remedy since the days of Hippocrates.”

That’s 370 BC. We checked.

So, how can it help with a yeast infection? Apple cider vinegar works as a natural antifungal and is often used to fight candida overgrowth.

To reap the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar, you can dilute it with coconut oil and apply it directly, or mix a little into a nice hot bath and enjoy a nice long soak.

You can also take Apple Cider Vinegar orally, mixed in water or your favorite smoothie to fight candida growth internally.

6

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Essence

If you’ve ever had athlete’s foot or a toenail infection (it’s ok, we’ve all been there) you’ve probably heard about the benefits of Tea Tree Oil.

It’s a natural essential oil that has powerful antifungal properties. So, powerful, in fact, that you have to be sure to dilute it very well with coconut oil or another carrier oil. A drop or two goes a long way.

You can also add it to the Apple Cider Vinegar bath we recommended with remedy #2.

7

Baking Soda

One of the simplest remedies for yeast infections may be already in your kitchen pantry. Baking soda has many uses outside of the kitchen, from freshening your home to whitening your teeth. Surprisingly, it can also help relieve your yeast infection symptoms and may even fight the candida itself.

According to a study in 2014 found that baking soda actually kills candida cells, allowing you to recover more quickly.

Baking soda also soothes the itching, irritation, and smell that can come with a yeast infection. To reap the benefits of baking soda’s anti-fungal and irritation relieving properties, add a quarter of a cup of baking soda to a warm bath.

8

Oregano, Thyme, and Pine Essential Oils

According to an article on Doctors Beyond Medicine, oregano is the number one most effective essential oil at inhibiting the growth of candida, followed closely by thyme.

In fact, in a study by scientists from Bio Med Central, several essential oils were tested to see how they affected different fungal strains. The study found that pine oil and thyme oil were most effective against the candida that causes most yeast infections.

9

Garlic

Garlic is truly a superstar of the herbal remedy world. It provides a variety of benefits, making it a beneficial addition to any diet.

Whether you’re struggling with a stubborn cold, trying to lower your blood pressure, or fighting an infection, garlic can help. So, it isn’t surprising that garlic has value as an anti fungal treatment as well. 

Garlic’s usefulness as a yeast infection treatment comes from it’s antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.

In fact, a clinical study in 2010 found a combination of garlic and thyme oils to be just as effective at treating candida infections as the anti-fungal clotrimazole when applied topically. (source)

While some herbal treatments can only be used topically, garlic is multi-use. You can add some to your favorite recipes to boost your immune system and fight candida internally or apply garlic oil topically to fight candida on your skin.

Just make sure to dilute the oil before applying it to your skin. In it’s purest form, garlic can irritate sensitive skin, causing a slight burning sensation. However, when diluted, there should be no irritation at all. 

If you’re concerned that you might be sensitive to garlic (or any essential oil for that matter) test a very small amount on your skin before use. If there’s no reaction within an hour, the essential oil should be safe for you to use as long as you dilute it by mixing it into a carrier like your favorite massage oil, lotion, or coconut oil.

10

Coconut Oil

Speaking of coconut oil, you might be surprised to learn that this popular cooking ingredient is used for much more than food. It has long been used as a favorite skin and hair care product and makes a great massage oil. Interestingly, it even helps the body to fight candida.

According to a study conducted in 2007; showed that coconut oil was highly effective against Candida albicans.

Along with having its own benefits against candida, coconut oil is the perfect carrier base for herbal essential oils, allowing you to make your very own personalized herbal antifungal treatment.

To use essential oils with coconut oil, mix a few drops of your chosen essential oils into a small amount of coconut oil and mix well. If you are using the coconut oil as a base, we recommend using about half a cup of coconut oil and adding three or four drops each of up to 5 different essential oils. This allows the oils to blend more thoroughly so that they can be evenly dispersed.

If you find that the oils don’t blend easily or the coconut oil seems thick, gently warm the coconut oil until it melts into a liquid state. When warming the oil, place the sealed container into a bowl of hot water. Do not use a stove top or microwave, as this could destroy some of the healing benefits of the coconut oil. Once the oil is warm, the essential oils can be easily mixed in.

If you’d like to use both herbal essential oils and antifungals simultaneously, you can use coconut oil to combine the two treatment options. First, combine the oils as recommended in the previous paragraph, using a smaller amount of coconut oil. You shouldn’t need more than a spoonful or two. Next, add the mixture to your antifungal cream.

Stir until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy. Now, you have a multi-faceted antifungal treatment that combines the benefits of herbal remedies with the effectiveness of traditional western medicine.

7 Tips to Recover From Yeast Infection

Now that we’ve covered nearly everything you might need to know about yeast infections, we want to leave you with a few tips that should make the process of recovering from a yeast infection as quick and painless as possible.

The better you care for yourself during this time, the faster the infection will disappear and you can get on with living your life.

1

Combine Treatment Options

While it’s possible to get by with only one form of treatment, your recovery will go by much more quickly if you combine treatments.

For example, don’t just use the anti-fungal alone. Use the anti-fungal while taking a probiotic and adding a splash of apple cider vinegar to your bathwater. Every little bit helps.

2

Practice Excellent Physical Hygiene

This is the time to be as vigilant as possible about your physical hygiene. Take a shower whenever you get sweaty, even if that means taking two or three showers a day.

Use a quality unscented body wash that’s made for sensitive skin. And if you notice yeast infection discharge or a buildup of sticky, white stuff (that’s the yeast), give the vagisil wipes a try.

It may be uncomfortable, but allowing yeast to build up on your body will exacerbate your symptoms and make recovery take longer.

3

Wear Loose Fitting Clothes and Boxers

Nothing encourages yeast growth quite like warm, dark, damp places. This means that if you regularly wear fitted underwear, now would be a good time to try something that lets you breathe a little.

Switch to boxers or loose boxer briefs and try not to wear pants that are too heavy or constrictive. At night, go the extra mile by ditching the pants altogether and sleeping in your boxers or, better yet, nothing at all. Yes, sleeping in the buff is recommended during a candida overgrowth.

4

Don’t Have Sex

First we say to sleep naked and then we say don’t have sex? What gives?!

Seriously, though, having sex with a yeast infection risks passing the infection along to your partner, regardless of their gender. (You can get a yeast infection pretty much anywhere.)

So, avoid sex for at least two weeks, even if your symptoms clear up completely in the first week. And if you do decide to participate in sexual activity, use protection.

Be aware though that many forms of birth control are sensitive to some oils, creams, and other medicines. Using them together might compromise the effectiveness of the birth control method. So double check their compatibility and consider a back up birth control method if one is needed.

5

Limit Your Sugar Intake

reduce sugar intake

Speaking of things you might crave, you’ll definitely want to tone down your sweet tooth while you wait for the candida infection to clear up.

Sugar feeds yeast, whether it’s on your skin or in your body, encouraging candida growth and prolonging infection. So, save yourself some calories and skip the sugar, just for a little while.

6

Maintain a Healthy Body and Weight

One of the best ways to prevent a yeast infection at all is to keep your body as fit and healthy as possible.

Obesity and diabetes are two things that contribute highly to the risk factor of candida overgrowth. So, make sure to exercise regularly, eat right, and stay vigilant about your health.

Visit your doctor regularly for checkups and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you thing you’re at a higher risk for a yeast infection, they may have more suggestions of things you can do to prevent one.

They may even have suggestions for a high quality probiotic or may want to monitor you more closely.

7

Focus on Prevention

While you may want to forget about this whole ordeal the second it’s finished, we recommend that you don’t.

If you’ve got a yeast infection now, chances are good that you fit at least one of the risk factors for candida overgrowth. That means it may happen again.

So remember the tips you’ve read here and do what you can to minimize your risk in the future. And if you find yourself having multiple yeast infections, point it out to your doctor. It could be a warning sign of something more serious like diabetes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most common questions and their answers.

How Are Yeast Infections Diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects an infection is present, they will perform an examination, checking your genitals for symptoms.

Any discharge or substances present on your genitals will be tested to see if they contain candida or are representative of a different issue. If none is visible, your doctor may perform a swab test just to be sure. While it may be uncomfortable, this test should not be painful. ​

This swab is then sent to a lab for testing, so you may not get an answer right away.

Your doctor may also decide to run several tests to be certain that you do not have an STD, or STI, just to make certain that you aren’t dealing with anything more serious. If your symptoms are advanced, you may be sent to a specialist to determine a course of treatments for any sores or rashes, while the yeast infection is being treated.

While the doctor may not instantly confirm the presence of a yeast infection, they may recommend beginning treatment, since most treatments for candida have little to no side effects and can begin to cause relief almost instantly.

Can You Self Diagnose a Male Yeast Infection?

Now that you know what to look for, you can begin to determine whether you actually have a candida infection. Of course, the first question is whether to see a doctor or attempt to diagnose and treat your infection yourself. 

While the symptoms of a yeast infection are easy to spot, they are also very similar to other, even more dangerous ailments, including some STDs. We highly recommend seeing your doctor immediately if you suspect that you might have a yeast infection.

Can You Self-Treat a Yeast Infection?

You should definitely see a doctor if you suspect a yeast infection.

But if your symptoms are bothering you, most of the treatments for yeast infections are relatively harmless and can begin easing your symptoms as soon as the first day of use.

As always, be sure to carefully read potential side effects, use products according to their packaging instructions or your doctor’s recommendation.

How Long Does a Yeast Infection Last?

While the symptoms of genital candidiasis can be very painful, there is good news; yeast infections in men don’t last very long.

Once treatment has been started, most infections begin clearing up immediately and clear completely in 3-10 days. If your infection doesn’t begin to clear up within a week, you might want to see your doctor.

They may adjust your treatment or refer you to a specialist, like a dermatologist, to speed up your recovery.

Conclusion

We hope you found this article helpful. If you currently have a yeast infection, we wish you a speedy recovery, and if you don’t, we hope you’ll be able to use what you’ve learned here to prevent ever getting a yeast infection at all.

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