Sometimes, the penis can become itchy. This may occur in isolation or alongside other symptoms, such as inflammation, bumps, or discharge.
There are a few reasons the penis may become itchy, and treatment may be necessary depending on the cause of the itch.
This article looks at possible causes of an itchy penis, as well as some causes of pubic itching. It also explores some potential home remedies, medical treatments, and tips to prevent an itchy penis, as well as when to see a doctor.
An itchy penis can be uncomfortable. Although it may be a symptom of a sexually transmitted infection (STI), there are other potential causes of an itchy penis.
Males may experience itchiness all over the penis. In other cases, the itchiness may be localized on the main part of the penis (the shaft) or on the glans penis (the penis tip).
Some causes of an itchy penis may include:
Candidiasis, or thrush, is a fungal infection that can inflame the penis tip and cause itching. In some instances, a blotchy rash or thick white discharge may accompany the itching.
Genital warts is an STI that can appear on the shaft and tip. They appear as growths or lumps and may cause itching or bleeding.
Psoriasis is a condition that can cause the skin to appear flushed, flaky, and scaly. Psoriasis on the penis may appear as flushed patches on the shaft and tip.
Scabies occurs when mites burrow into the skin. This can affect the whole body, and it typically causes an extreme itching sensation.
Scabies may appear on the penis as small raised bumps on the shaft.
Contact dermatitis may appear on the penis as raised, itchy bumps.
Genital herpes is an STI wherein blisters may appear on the shaft of the penis, the anus, and the thighs. A symptom of genital herpes is itching.
Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become dry, inflamed, and itchy. Eczema on the penis may appear as dry skin on the shaft.
Balanitis is a form of skin irritation that specifically affects the tip of the penis.
Symptoms of balanitis include an itchy penis, a foul smell coming from the penis, swelling, and pain during urination.
Skin conditions such as psoriasis, scabies, eczema, and contact dermatitis may also affect the pubic area.
However, there may be other reasons the pubic area is itchy. These include:
When someone shaves their pubic hair, they may experience razor burn. This sometimes occurs when using an old razor, shaving without a lubricant such as shaving foam, or shaving the same area multiple times in quick succession.
This can cause a rash and small bumps to appear on the surface of the pubic area.
Pubic lice can be another reason the pubic area is itchy. A person may catch pubic lice through close bodily contact with someone who has it.
Pubic lice may cause itching in the pubic area, leading to inflammation from scratching.
An ingrown hair may also cause itching. This occurs when the tip of a pubic hair folds back into the skin. Typically, this happens after shaving or waxing.
If the penis starts feeling itchy, there are a few things the person can try at home to soothe the itch.
For example, they can:
- Place a cool compress on the affected areas: This can help ease the irritation.
- Refrain from sexual activity to avoid further irritation: This can also help prevent STIs.
- Apply coconut oil to the area: This may improve the symptoms of skin conditions and relieve some of the itch.
- Soak a cotton swab with alcohol and rub it on the affected area: Some anecdotal evidence suggests that this may help. The logic behind this is that alcohol can have antimicrobial effects that can help kill certain bacteria.
- Bathe in bath salts: One study suggests that this can help relieve irritated skin and reduce inflammation.
- Apply diluted apple cider vinegar to the area: Some anecdotal evidence suggests that this may be useful for stopping itching. However, in some cases, this may lead to further irritation.
If someone is experiencing penis itching, they should consider seeing a pharmacist. They may be able to provide recommendations for over-the-counter (OTC) treatments.
However, it is also important to determine the underlying cause of the itching, which will require a visit to the doctor.
Depending on the cause of the itchy penis, there are a few possible treatment options. These include:
- Antifungal medication: If the cause is a fungal infection, a person will likely need antifungal medication to target the infection and reduce the symptoms.
- Antihistamines: If the itch is due to an allergy, a person may need to take antihistamines.
- Antibiotics: If the cause of the itching is bacterial, antibiotics will be necessary to kill the infection.
- Steroid ointments: These help reduce inflammation and soothe the itch.
If a person wants to avoid penis itching, they may wish to consider preventive measures such as:
- Avoiding certain products: Avoid soaps that contain perfume, as this may irritate the penis.
- Maintaining good hygiene: Taking regular showers, thoroughly rinsing soap from the penis, and drying well afterward may help reduce penis itching.
- Cleaning the foreskin: It is important that people with a foreskin clean under it. This can clear dirt and bacteria that may lead to irritation and itching.
- Using barrier methods during sexual activity: Some causes of penis itching may come from STIs. One way to prevent these is to use barrier methods such as condoms during sex.
- Undergoing circumcision: Certain causes of penis itching, such as balanitis, are due to the presence of the foreskin. One study suggests that undergoing circumcision could act as a preventive measure.
- Change the shaving habits: To prevent itching that may occur due to shaving, it is important to use a lubricant. A person should also consider using a new razor and refrain from shaving an area multiple times in quick succession.
A person should consider seeing a doctor if the itching becomes severe, does not improve with OTC treatments, or appears alongside other symptoms, such as discharge, blisters, or pain.
The doctor will examine the penis to determine the cause of the itching. This may require a biopsy or an STI test. Depending on the cause of the itch, the doctor will then prescribe the appropriate treatment.
When itching and other symptoms are also present on other parts of the body, a person may need to see a dermatologist.
People may experience itching on the shaft, tip, or all over the penis.
The itch may occur for several reasons, including STIs, bacterial infections, skin conditions, yeast infections, fungal infections, and shaving.
Home remedies may provide some relief from penis itching. Some OTC treatments may also help. If the itching becomes severe, does not improve, or appears with other symptoms, a person should consult a doctor.
To prevent an itchy penis, a person may want to consider taking precautions such as avoiding scented soap products, maintaining good hygiene, and avoiding sexual encounters with people who have an STI.
In more extreme circumstances, a person may want to consider undergoing circumcision.