Things are going along fine for a guy and then suddenly - WHAM! - an insistent itchy penis rears its ugly head. He tries ignoring it, but when an itchy penis demands attention, there’s little choice but to give in and scratch - and hope that that beautiful woman at the end of the bar doesn’t notice his surreptitious hand movements. At this point the guy is asking why he hasn’t been paying closer attention to his penis health. And maybe he should have; sometimes an itchy penis occurs for a definite penis health issue, and often it is the condition commonly called thrush.

A yeasty situation

Most men have heard of thrush, but few know what it is - other than a real nuisance. In fact, thrush is a yeast infection (known medically as candidiasis). Finding this out often surprises a man. Yeast infections are well known as a "woman’s problem," so many dudes are shocked to find out that their manhood has become a breeding ground for yeast.

Candida, the yeast fungus that causes thrush, is actually very common. All our bodies contain some candida, which in the proper amounts and proper locations is actually beneficial. But the penis is not one of the places where it is welcome. And when it does situate itself there and starts to spread out, it causes a rash-like situation which, in addition to looking kind of uninviting, is an itch-fest just waiting to happen.

And, fair warning: thrush doesn’t always restrict itself to the penis. It can pop up elsewhere on the body, including in the mouth and on the tongue.

Sharing

Often, thrush pops up and creates an itchy penis situation because it was passed on from a partner. But, considering the prevalence of female yeast infections, this doesn’t happen as often as would be expected. Exactly why is not known, but guys can be thankful for this fact, or they would be thrush-filled far more often.

So if it’s not coming from a partner, where is it coming from? Primary culprits for causing thrush include:

- Sloppy hygiene. Sometimes a guy has no one but himself to blame for his thrush. A fungus like candida is always shopping around for a moist, warm spot to call home - and if it’s a little dirty, so much the better. So guys who don’t clean the penis sufficiently or who allow the basement to get too sweaty and aromatic are setting up a "for rent" sign that candida just can’t ignore.

- Antibiotics. They’re great for fighting many kinds of stubborn infections, but antibiotics can sometimes set the stage of a thrush invasion. The drugs kill off both harmful and helpful bacteria - and the presence of the helpful bacteria is a deterrent to the thrush fungus.

- Diabetes. Men with diabetes are more likely to attract thrush than men without. Essentially, this is because the urine of a diabetic man tends to be more "sugary." When he urinates, droplets left on the penis dry and leave behind the sugar - and the candida fungus has a sweet tooth. (Seriously, the sugar does provide sustenance to the fungus.)

- Immune system problem. A compromised immune system, whether chronic or acute, negatively impacts the body’s ability to keep candida under control. Unchecked, it multiplies and reaches the point where it becomes a nuisance.

Men whose itchy penis is due to thrush need to keep their members good and clean. Regularly applying a top drawer penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin) after washing can help. Keeping the penis skin healthy can also discourage thrush from establishing a beachhead, so find a crème with both a high-end emollient (think Shea butter) and an effective hydrator (think vitamin E), which together can keep the skin from developing cracks and patches. The crème should also include vitamin A, the anti-bacterial properties of which can also make the penis more inhospitable to the fungus.