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Anyone can get thrush. Thrush is caused by a fungus called Candida. It's totally normal for this bug to be found around the body and just like other moulds or fungus it likes warm moist areas. Usually, our immune system and skin bacteria will keep Candida in check by making sure there's just enough to keep our skin healthy. Sometimes it can multiply, especially if you've got skin irritation or something that might impact the usual bugs in the area such as diabetes or if you're taking antibiotics. If you have a sexual partner with thrush it can be passed on via sex but this isn't as common.  

In people with a penis, thrush will mainly affect the head of your penis, especially if you're uncircumcised, as your foreskin keeps the area warm and moist. Once the Candida builds up the head of your penis can become red, itchy and sore. You can get a cheesy substance that builds up beneath the foreskin. Sometimes the foreskin can also become red and sore, making it difficult to pull back. Some of these symptoms can also be present with STIs so it's worth getting a check-up with your doctor.

The good news is that thrush is often simple to treat. Sometimes good genital hygiene alone can be enough to clear things up. When you're in the shower, retract the foreskin and use something designed for sensitive areas to gently clean the area. Gently is the keyword here — the more you scrub the more irritated it'll get. You'll want to avoid any soaps or shower gels as these can make things more irritated. When you're drying yourself, make sure to be gentle and thoroughly pat dry. Loose-fitted cotton undies can also be good to stop things heating up downstairs. If you're still struggling you can visit a pharmacist or GP to see if anti-fungal cream might be helpful.

Read more: How to clean your penis properly


Dr Rhys YoungDr Rhys Young is a General Practitioner who loves all things men's health, sexual health & LGBTQ health. He writes monthly health articles as DocQ for QNews, a magazine that celebrates Australia's LGBTQ Culture. Dr Rhys is also a Senior Lecturer at the University of Queensland and a Medical Educator for GP trainees in Brisbane. 

Keywords:
General health
Sexual health

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