It never fails that a guy will suddenly develop an incredibly itchy penis at the most inopportune time - when trying to impress a woman, in the middle of a crucial sales pitch, you name it. The causes of an itchy penis are many, but one that is often overlooked is called folliculitis. Even people who take pains to ensure proper penis health may become a scratch-crazy victim of this common condition.

What is it?

The name folliculitis makes this condition sound much scarier and more serious than it is. Don’t worry, men: folliculitis is just an infection of the hair follicles. It happens when bacteria or a fungus gets into the follicle and sets up house. Although this article is looking at folliculitis on the penis and in the crotch, it can occur anywhere on the body.

Folliculitis isn’t dangerous, and it’s quite treatable, but it can be annoying and inconveniencing. It can create a red rash or a "bumpiness" to the skin. The condition is rarely painful, but it can be extremely itchy, in some cases making a guy want to scratch his manhood like there’s no tomorrow.

Where does it come from?

As mentioned, the cause of folliculitis is bacteria or a fungus. Both of these tend to breed in an environment that is hot and moist. The pubic area fits that description to a "t."

That said, there are some "risk factors" that make people more likely to develop folliculitis. These include:

- Overusing the hot tub. Folliculitis is sometimes called "hot tub rash" because it develops more readily when the skin is exposed to hot water for an extended period of time. It’s not unusual for the infection to appear within 72 hours of spending too much time in the Jacuzzi.

- Other skin conditions. When a person has acne or dermatitis, it increases the chances that hair follicles will become infected.

- Going too tight on the tighty-whiteys. When people wear clothing that is too tight - underwear, skinny jeans, etc. - the heat rises in the crotch. When the heat is trapped for too long, it increases the likelihood of folliculitis sneaking in.

- Overweight. Men who need to shed some extra pounds are more likely to develop a follicle infection - most likely because the added padding tends to increase heat and sweat, which infection craves.

- Shaving too close. Manscaping is bigger than ever and many men enjoy shaving their pubes to better present their manly packaging. Sometimes, however, shaving too close can create irritation that leads to infection. The irritation is increased when newly-shaved skin rubs up against fabrics, especially those that are a bit rough.

What to do

Often, folliculitis will resolve of its own accord. It can be helped along by gently washing the area with an antibacterial soap once or twice a day. (Be sure to dry thoroughly by gently patting the skin with a towel - not be vigorously rubbing it back and forth.) An over-the-counter antibiotic ointment may also be applied.

It’s also a good idea to avoid further irritation of the area. Wearing loose clothing of soft material can help. If a man shaves his crotch, he should avoid doing this until the condition clears up.

If the folliculitis is persistent, a doctor may need to prescribe stronger oral antibiotics.

While folliculitis is present, an itchy penis is bound to be an issue. To help relieve the need to scratch, a man should apply a first class penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) to the penis. It’s essential that the crème helps to hydrate the skin, which will in turn lessen the need to itch. For this reason, select a crème that includes a combination of a high end emollient like Shea butter and a natural hydrating element like vitamin E. Since heat and moisture tend to go hand-in-hand with folliculitis, it’s a good idea to ensure that the crème also contains vitamin A. Heat and moisture tends to produce penis odor, and vitamin A has properties which help to fight excessive "man smell."