Thrush is a condition that can affect the penis and can cause symptoms such as itchiness, a red rash, and white discharge. Thrush treatment works to relieve these symptoms and clear up the infection within a few days.
- Complete a short medical questionnaire
- Highlight a preferred treatment
- Doctor reviews your answers and notes your preferred treatment
Important: If your preferred treatment is not clinically suitable, your doctor will offer an alternative or advise you on what to do next.
Thrush treatments available
- Clotrimazole 1% cream (Canesten)
About thrush treatment for men
What is thrush in men?
Thrush is a fungal infection caused by candida yeasts that are found naturally in the body. It occurs more frequently in women but it is also common for men to get thrush. Thrush in men is called male candidiasis and affects the penis.
In both men and women, thrush can also appear in other areas of the skin such as the groin, armpits and between the fingers.
Is thrush a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?
Male thrush is not an STI but it can be triggered by sex. The symptoms of male thrush are similar to some STIs so it is a good idea to talk to a medical professional to be sure you are using the right treatment for your symptoms and to make sure you have an up to date STI screen since your most recent sexual partner if you are sexually active.
What are the symptoms of thrush in men?
Common symptoms of thrush in men include:
- redness, irritation and a burning sensation around the head of the penis and under the foreskin
- an unpleasant smell
- thick white discharge (which people liken to cottage cheese)
- difficulty pulling back the foreskin
- pain during sex or when you pee
Thrush is also a common cause of a condition called balanitis (inflammation of the head of the penis).
You can still have thrush and not have any of these symptoms.
How long does thrush last?
If you have mild thrush and do not treat it, it can clear up within a few days. More severe infections can last up to two weeks or longer. The longer you leave thrush without treating it, the worse your symptoms can get.
Male thrush treatment
Thrush in men is treated in the same way it is for women: with an antifungal medicine that stops the yeast cells from growing and spreading. This medicine is usually a cream that you apply to the infected area, but it is also available in tablets.
Clotrimazole 1% cream is commonly used to treat thrush in men. You apply a thin layer evenly to the affected areas and rub it in gently 2 to 3 times per day.
The symptoms of soreness and itching should clear up within a few days of starting treatment and the other symptoms such as redness should clear up within 2 weeks. If they do not, talk to your doctor or a pharmacist.
Other common cream treatments for thrush are Canestan cream and Daktarin 2% cream. Sometimes a mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone is recommended alongside an antifungal to treat any inflammation.
You should avoid having sex while you are treating male thrush. Your partner does not need to be treated unless they also have symptoms.
If you are getting thrush regularly (eg, 4 times in a year), your doctor may advise you to take the treatment for longer. They may also recommend that you try tablets such as fluconazole as well as having tests to check for any underlying health issues including diabetes.
Can I still have sex if I am treating male thrush?
You should avoid having sex while you are treating male thrush as thrush can be passed on through sex though it is not considered an STI.
Once you have treated male thrush, you should use alternative contraception to condoms or diaphragms for at least 5 days after using antifungal cream on your penis. This is because the cream can reduce their effectiveness in preventing pregnancy.
Where can I buy treatment for male thrush?
You can buy treatment for male thrush online from a reputable and registered online doctor, such as Superdrug Online Doctor.
Follow these simple steps:
- Complete our brief online questionnaire.
- Our doctors then review your answers to make sure it is safe to sell you the antifungal treatment.
- You can then order your prescription either as a discreet package through the post or via ‘Click and Collect’ from your local Superdrug pharmacy.
- If you have any questions or concerns at any point, our doctors are available to message through your Patient Account.
The government’s online checker can also reassure you that the site you are using is operating legally and safely.
Can I buy male thrush treatment over the counter?
Yes, you can buy antifungal treatment for male thrush over the counter from a pharmacist. You do not need a prescription.
Can I get male thrush treatment on the NHS?
Yes, you may be able to get treatment for male thrush from your GP on the NHS after a consultation however this will depend on local prescribing guidelines. Using Superdrug Online Doctor, you can buy antifungal treatment quickly and easily without having to speak to a doctor face to face or book an appointment.
Side effects of male thrush treatment
Many people will have no side effects at all from using an antifungal cream to treat thrush. However, as with all medicines, it is possible to get side effects.
You should seek immediate medical help if you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction when you use the cream:
- breathing or swallowing problems
- swelling of the face, throat, lips or tongue
- feeling faint or dizzy
If you experience the following when you apply the cream, you should stop using it and talk to your doctor:
- itching and/or burning
- redness and/or rash
- peeling of the skin
Who can use treatment for male thrush?
You should not use antifungal cream to treat male thrush if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.
Most antifungal creams to treat thrush do not interact with other medicines. However, you should tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any other medication, including supplements, so that they can advise you.
What causes male thrush?
Male thrush is caused by the fungus candida which occurs naturally in your body in moist, warm areas such as the genitals and inside the mouth. Normally the fungus is kept under control by the bacteria in your system. When the balance of bacteria changes, the fungus can grow and develop and this causes the symptoms of thrush.
The balance of bacteria in your body can change when you:
- have skin that is damaged or irritated
- are taking antibiotics
- have a weakened immune system
- have diabetes that is not under control
If you have male thrush, you can spread it through close contact with other people.
Why do I keep getting male thrush?
If you keep getting male thrush, it may mean that the treatment you are using is not working properly or there is an underlying reason why the balance of bacteria in your body is not stopping the growth of candida. Talk to a doctor to get advice on what could be causing the thrush and different treatments.
How to prevent male thrush
You can help to prevent thrush occurring by:
- wearing loose cotton underwear
- using water and emollients like E45 cream to wash (instead of soap)
- not using deodorants or douches on your penis
- drying thoroughly after washing
If your partner has thrush, using a condom during sex can stop you from getting it.
Balanitis NHS [accessed 1st November 2021]
Canesten cream EMC [accessed 1st November 2021]
Clotrimazole Cream 1% EMC [accessed 1st November 2021]
Daktarin 2% Cream EMC [accessed 1st November 2021]
Thrush in men NHS Scotland [accessed 1st November 2021]
Thrush in men and women NHS [accessed 1st November 2021]