Most men will develop a penis rash from time to time. It’s often the body’s natural reaction to a wide variety of things, from getting too hot to coming into contact with something the delicate skin doesn’t agree with to too much friction in the wrong places. A penis rash is so common that most men never think about going to the doctor to deal with it, and it usually goes away on its own when a man keeps up with his daily penis care.

But there are times when a penis rash is more than that. Sometimes a rash can indicate a penis infection, which must be tended to in a different way than a typical rash. But how can a man tell what is an everyday, run-of-the-mill penis rash and what is a more serious penis infection?

When a penis rash is serious

Understanding when a rash is serious is important. Here are times when the rash is actually a symptom of an infection:

1) Jock itch. Sometimes the first sign of this fungal infection is the redness and itching that often accompanies it. However, sometimes it can look like a rash at first, and that can make a man believe it’s nothing serious. Given that, he might use his towel to dry off the penis and surrounding area, then use it on other parts of his body, for instance - and that spreads jock itch to other areas. If a rash appears and begins to itch, and that itch never goes away, it might be jock itch.

2) Yeast infections. Contrary to popular belief, yeast infections aren’t just something women get. Men can also get yeast infections, which often present with terrible itching and burning. Another symptom is a rash that gradually becomes solid redness as the infection advances. Fortunately, yeast infections can be easily remedied with over the counter medications; more stubborn yeast infections can be treated with a quick prescription.

3) Some sexually transmitted diseases. Though most diseases contracted from a partner don’t lead to rashes, some of the more serious ones might if they are not treated in time. For instance, the second stage of syphilis infection can lead to a red or brown rash that appears in various areas of the body, not just on the genital area. This is the time when a person with syphilis is extremely infectious, and the infection has begun to affect their entire body. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important for those who are sexually active to get regular testing for a variety of sexually transmitted diseases.

4) Balanitis. This is a common infection that can happen to men who have their foreskin intact. It can show up as a rash around the head of the penis, and is often accompanied by swelling, pain and burning. It often occurs when a man has been a little lax with his penis care. Fortunately, this can often be reversed through stepping up the hygiene game and cleaning carefully under the foreskin every day, as well as using moisturizing crèmes to help hasten healing.

When a man suffers from a penis rash, he should start his treatment by improving hygiene and watching closely for changes. If the rash doesn’t go away soon, it’s a good idea to visit the doctor to rule out serious infections. In the meantime, a guy can reach for a moisturizing penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin). A crème that contains powerful antioxidants like alpha lipoic acid and strong amino acids like L-carnitine can be a huge help. Healthy vitamins, such as A, C and D, can also go a long way toward keeping the skin as healthy as possible.