What’s Causing My Penis to Itch and How Do I Treat It

What’s causing my penile itchy skin condition?

The itching in your private parts may be caused by various things. Some of them are:

Hormonal imbalance. Hormone imbalance causes hormonal changes which result in itching. You may have low testosterone levels or high estrogen levels. Low testosterone causes premature aging and weak muscles, while high estrogen causes early aging and strong muscles.

Both conditions lead to itching in your private areas (penis, testicles).

Diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, thyroid problems etc. All these diseases can cause itching in your private parts.

Exercise and stress. Exercising too much and overworking yourself can cause itching in your private parts. Stress causes itching due to increased blood flow to the body. Exercise can relieve stress, but not all exercise will cure it completely.

Chemicals from household products like soap, shampoo, deodorant etc. These chemicals irritate the skin when applied directly to the skin. They can cause burning sensation and itching.

Skin conditions such as psoriasis, hives, etc. These skin conditions can lead to itching in private areas.

Infections like yeast infection, scabies, crabs (pediculosis pubis), gonorrhea, hepatitis A, B and C, HIV, HPV (human papillomavirus), impetigo, pubic lice (crabs), syphilis, and trichomoniasis. Some of these are curable and some aren’t. It is best to visit a doctor in this regard. A small sample of your private parts can be sent to the lab to identify the cause of itching.

Hair and bathing strategies. Some men shave their pubic hair for fashion while others prefer to keep it natural. Shaving or trimming your pubic hair is completely up to you, but some men grow long hair in that area. This causes itchiness.

Also, using soaps to bathe can cause dryness and itchiness too. Bathe once every two days with warm water only.

How do I treat my itchy private parts?

Use ointments. There are many ointments available in the market that soothe the skin. These are effective short-term solutions to your problem. The most common ointment for itchiness is a topical anti-fungal cream such as Canestan.

Use medicated powders. These are useful for treating jock itch. The most common types of medicated powders are Tinactin and Tinglex.

Take a hot bath. This is very effective in treating skin infections caused by bacteria. Soaking in a hot bath for 20 minutes twice daily can help treat your infection and stop the itching sensations.

Take an over-the-counter anti-fungal medication. This is a very effective way of treating fungal infections of the skin such as ringworm and jock itch. These are available in the form of pills, creams, sprays and ointments.

Use anti-itch foams. Anti-itch foams are beneficial in stopping the itching sensations caused by skin problems like jock itch, scabies, eczema etc. Examples of anti-itch foams are Sarna and Aquanil.

Use hair removal creams and razors. This is for the men who prefer to keep their private parts hairless. Shaving causes cuts and tears in the skin, which may lead to infection. It is best to shave only in the areas where hair is growing, not in between.

Otherwise, you increase your chances of infection due to cuts and tears of the skin.

Use a surgical scalpel and tweezers. This is the best way to remove scabies mites and other types of skin parasites. It is highly recommended that you consult a medical professional before attempting to do this yourself.

Get vaccinated. Certain viruses such as HPV and hepatitis can cause itching in your private parts. If you engage in promiscuous sexual activity, then you are at a higher risk of getting these viruses. A vaccine is available to prevent against these viruses.

What self-care strategies can I apply?

Keep your genital area clean. After using the bathroom, wipe yourself from front to back to avoid introducing bacteria into the urinary tract or genitals. Also, try to bath or shower at least once every two days. This reduces odor and sweating, which can cause itching. If you are a male, trim your pubic hair to reduce itching in that area.

Wear loose underwear and clothing. This allows your skin to “breathe”, which decreases the chances of developing an infection or irritation. If you exercise regularly, then wear clean underwear after every workout.

Do pelvic floor exercises. This strengthens the muscles of the pubic region, which can improve bladder control and sexual function. Try to do Kegel exercises at least once a day. If you want, you can buy a rubber exercise device to help strengthen these muscles.

If you have excessive sweating of the genital area, then use an antiperspirant or lotion to prevent excessive sweating. Try to bathe every other day or every two days to prevent odor. Also, routinely change underwear and wash clothes.

Do not use douches. They cause several problems with the female reproductive system and can lead to infection. If you have excessive discharge, then this could be a sign of a more serious condition such as a sexually transmitted disease (STD). See a medical professional immediately about this.

What should I do if I find a growth or wart-like mole?

See a medical professional immediately for they could be signs of a more serious condition. Get them examined and get tested to rule out the possibility of cancer or an STD.

How do I prevent jock itch, pubic lice and scabies?

Wash all clothing, towels and bedding in hot water to kill off any mites or lice. Dry the clothing items in the hot cycle of your dryer as well. Also, throw away old razors, towels and brushes if you have been infected with scabies.

What is HPV?

Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common sexually transmitted disease (STD). There are more than 150 strains of HPV, and around 40 of them can be passed on through sexual contact. Types of the virus include:

High risk types: These high risk HPV types can infect the genital area and cause warts. These warts are usually small and flat, but can be larger and grow on other areas of the body. If these warts are found on the cervix, there is a greater risk of developing cancer over the long term (such as cervical cancer).

Low risk types: These low risk HPV types usually do not infect the genital area. However, they may cause warts in other areas such as the hands or feet.

Most people who are infected with HPV do not know they have it. Many women can have HPV and have no signs or symptoms at all. In fact, most cases of HPV occur in women between the ages of 15 and 25, who show no signs or symptoms of the infection.

While most people who have the virus clear it from their system naturally within two years, some people go on to develop long-term persistent infections. This can increase the risk of developing precancerous cells and cervical cancer. Getting regular screenings and Pap smears are the best ways to prevent cervical cancer if you have had any type of HPV infection.

What are the symptoms?

Most people who have HPV do not show any signs or symptoms. If signs or symptoms do occur, they usually appear as a small bump or group of bumps beneath the skin. The most common sign of HPV is called genital warts, which appear as a small bump or group of bumps in the genital area. Warts are usually small, but can grow up to a couple of centimeters in size. The bumps may be flesh-colored or grayish, and flat or raised. Genital warts may appear within weeks after contact with the virus, or it may take months or even years. The warts can go away and then return again later.

There are other less common signs of HPV, such as:

small whitish bumps that may resemble gooseflesh or tiny bubbles on the vulva

pain in your genital area

bleeding after sexual contact

unusual vaginal discharge

itching, burning or irritation of your genital area

mild fever (greater than 100.4).

How is it diagnosed?

Your health care provider can diagnose warts by simply looking at the area, but he or she may use a microscope to further examine suspicious tissue samples.

If you are experiencing other symptoms, your health care provider will do a physical examination and ask you questions about your medical history, any medications you are taking, recent medical tests or procedures, any allergies you have, and any contraception you use. Your health care provider may also ask you questions about your sexual history.

Your health care provider may take a pap smear or a sample of cells from your cervix. A sample can be taken by using a small brush or cotton swab to collect cells from your cervix.

How is it treated?

There is no treatment that can kill the virus. Treatment can only be used to get rid of the warts, and is not always successful. There are a number of treatments that can be used:

Freezing the warts with liquid nitrogen.

Cutting or burning the wart off the skin.

Covering the wart with other medications.

Placing medication directly on the wart.

Other methods that can help decrease symptoms include:

Soaking in water several times per day for 5 to 10 minutes to keep the skin around the genital area soft.

Applying a cream or ointment that helps relieve itching.

Taking an over-the-counter painkiller such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for pain.

Note: Always ask your health care provider about the symptoms that concern you, and the treatments available.

Is treatment successful?

Treating genital warts is not always successful, especially if you have had them for a long time. Also, the warts may return or grow in other parts of your body. Your health care provider may treat additional areas of wart growth to reduce the chance that the virus will continue to multiply in your skin.

How can I prevent spreading genital warts to others?

You can help prevent spreading the virus to others by not having sexual contact with anyone.

If you do have sexual contact, it is important that you tell your current and future partners that you are infected in order for them to get tested. If you are pregnant, it is very important that health care provider knows that you have genital warts because this increases the risk of passing the infection on to your baby during birth.

Partners can be tested for the virus and treated. Partners may continue to pass the infection back and forth if they are not careful about practicing safer-sexual choices, such as using a latex condoms for vaginal, rectal, and/or genital contact.

What is the HPV vaccine?

Two vaccines are now available that protect against strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause most cases of genital warts and cervical cancer.

HPV vaccines are recommended by the CDC for females between the ages of 11 and 12. The vaccine can also be given beginning at the age of 9.

The vaccine works best when given at a young age. It is not harmful to start the vaccination schedule at a later age, or to catch up on missed vaccines. The vaccine should/can be continued until the age of 26 or longer for women who did not get the vaccine when they were younger.

Both the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend that preteen girls receive the vaccine.

The vaccine is given in 3 doses over a period of 6 months. However, if you are older than 15, you will need 3 shots to be protected.

Both vaccines are for females only at this time.

If you have questions about or concerns with the vaccine, talk with your health care provider.

Your family doctor or gynecologist can determine if the vaccine is recommended for you. If it is, s/he can administer the vaccine during a regular checkup.

You should make an appointment as soon as possible to get the vaccine if you are between the ages of 11 and 12, or if you are between 13 and 26 (and never received or completed the series when you were younger).

If you are older than 26, you can still get the vaccine.

You may need a prescription for the vaccine.

Both manufacturers state that the vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccines.

The best way to protect against getting genital warts and cervical cancer is to avoid having genital contact with someone who has HPV.

If you are a female and have questions, please talk with your health care provider.

If you are a parent, you may find additional information on the CDC or AAP websites.

What about HPV testing?

There is currently no test to determine if someone has had HPV in the past. The vaccine helps your body to fight off the virus so that it cannot multiply and develop into genital warts or cervical cancer. The vaccine will not cure existing HPV infection or genital warts.

Additional Information:

CDC Information on the HPV vaccine:

CDC Information on HPV and genital warts:

AAP Recommendations:

CDC Facts: Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

CDC Facts: Genital Warts

CDC Facts: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine

CDC Facts: Genital Warts Vaccine

NIAID Information on HPV and Genital Warts

American Social Health Association (ASHA)

Vaccine Education Center

Healthy Children

Go Ask Alice!

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