Penile Itching: Causes, Home Treatments and When to See a Doctor

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Penile Itching: Causes, Home Treatments and When to See a Doctor

An itchy penis can be a very irritating problem for men and can cause an uncontrollable urge to scratch the genital region. Penile itching is usually caused by a fungal or bacterial infection. However, treating an itchy penis can be difficult because the dark warm environment of the area at the top of the legs and groin causes germs to quickly multiply. Because of that, conditions causing itching in the male private parts can quickly spread to the scrotum, inner thigh, and groin.

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There are many natural ways to treat itching around the male genitalia. Very often, better personal hygiene in the groin area is the first step to stop itch-causing infections getting worse. However, if the penile itching is because of fungi, lice, yeast infection, or an inflammatory skin condition, then some home remedies will help to get rid of the problem. Ingredients like tea tree oil, coconut oil, witch hazel, and apple cider vinegar help to both soothe the irritating itch and kill off infection-causing germs around male privates.

Sometimes, the itchy patch of skin on your penis could be a symptom of a more serious condition like a sexually transmitted disease or pubic lice. Also, constant scratching around the groin area could cause a bacterial skin infection that can be harder to treat.

This article looks at the various causes and remedies for an itchy penis. You will also find out how to prevent penile itching becoming a chronic condition where the itch-scratch-itch cycle becomes difficult to stop.

Symptoms of Itching Genital Area

Itching can affect any part of the penis from the base of the organ to the foreskin and tip. Very often, the itchy skin on the male member will be accompanied by a rash or red patch of skin. Depending on its cause and severity, the itching could be mild to severe.

Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet says that inflammation of the penis shaft could also cause a burning sensation and discomfort.1 If a yeast or bacterial infection is the cause of the penile itch, then you may also experience discharge from the site of the infection. Some conditions also cause a buildup of a cheesy substance under the foreskin if you are not circumcised.

In cases where dermatitis or psoriasis are to blame for the itchy private parts, along with the severe itching, you will notice scaling skin or a pink or brown patch. If the penis itching is severe, constant scratching may cause the skin to crack and bleed.

Causes and Treatment of Penile Itching

Various conditions and ailments can cause itching around the pubic and genital area of men. Knowing the reasons behind the embarrassing itching between your legs can help to find the best home remedy to get relief from the urge to scratch.

Jock itch

Jock itch (tinea cruris) is a common reason for having intense itching around the penis. The warm, moist conditions of the groin as well as wearing tight underwear cause various fungal and bacterial infections to develop. Usually, the itch comes and goes but then becomes more severe and a rash may develop on the upper thighs. You may also suffer from testicular Itching.

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Dr. William Shiel on MedicineNet says that, although jock itch can affect women, it is usually the male genitalia that is more commonly affected. As the infection progresses, Dr. Shiel says that the itchy patches of skin may become dry, scaly, and small red bumps may appear in the groin area.2

To get rid of the itchy symptoms of jock itch and soothe the irritating rash in your pubic area, Dr.Shiel recommends keeping the groin area dry and washing the groin 2 or 3 times a day. If the jock itch is caused by a fungal infection, then antifungal creams are used to destroy fungi.

Natural antifungal treatment for jock itch

You can use a combination of tea tree oil and coconut oil to remedy itchy skin on your private parts. A study published in the Nepal Journal of Dermatology, Venereology & Leprology on the antifungal effect of tea tree oil found that it’s effective in treating jock itch. In fact, a cream containing tea tree oil was just as effective as 1% clotrimazole – a pharmaceutical drug that is usually prescribed for jock itch.3

It’s important to note that the study tested the effect of using 50% tea tree oil extract in a cream base. However you should always start with a much lower concentration (as per the recipe below) to make sure you don’t develop any negative skin reaction. If you don’t notice any sensitivity, you can always increase the tea tree oil concentration and even use it directly as a spot treatment.

You can mix tea tree oil with coconut oil to help boost its antifungal properties and also soothe itchy skin in delicate areas of your body.

To make a tea tree oil cream to help soothe penile itching, you should do the following:

  1. Put 2-3 drops of tea tree oil in 1 tablespoon coconut oil and mix well.
  2. Gently massage onto the itchy patch of skin in your groin area.
  3. Repeat 2-3 times a day to help get rid of the urge to itch and kill off the fungal infection.
  4. Continue using until you no longer have patches of itchy skin around your groin and upper thighs.

Yeast infection (Candidiasis)

A yeast infection (male thrush) will cause a severe itch around your genitals. One type of yeast infection that is often to blame for penile itching is the candida strain. Genital candidiasis often affects a woman’s vagina; however, it can affect the penis as well.

Doctors from the National Health Service say that candidiasis will cause a man to have an itchy rash on his penis. This often causes irritation, white discharge, and redness on the penis head. Because the symptoms are similar to an STD, you should speak to your doctor about the problem.4

To help get rid of the genital fungal infection that is causing a severe itch, you should wash your genitals regularly and avoid harsh soaps. You should also wear loose-fitting cotton underwear to prevent moisture in your groin building up and prevent candida yeast multiplying.4

Natural treatment for candidiasis

To help get rid of the candida infection completely, doctors recommend using an antifungal cream. However, you can make your own candida remedy at home with coconut oil.

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For example, the Journal of Medicinal Food reported that coconut oil helps to destroy candida fungi. In fact, the study showed that coconut oil was more effective at killing of yeast infections than fluconazole – another popular anti-candida pharmaceutical drug.5

To make your own antifungal treatment to help cure penile itching, you can add a few drops of cinnamon oil and clove oil to the coconut oil. Both of these essential oils have antifungal properties. In fact, one scientific study showed that the combination of clove and cinnamon oil helps to combat various yeast infections.6

It is very easy to make your own antifungal cream to help get rid of an itchy penis. This is what you should do:

  1. Mix 2-3 drops of cinnamon oil and 2 drops of clove oil with 1 teaspoon coconut oil and mix well.
  2. Apply the coconut oil remedy to the itch on the head or shaft of your penis.
  3. Repeat 2-3 times a day to help destroy the yeast infection and soothe the itch.
  4. Use daily until all signs of candidiasis have gone and you no longer have any itching in your private area.

Lichen simplex

One cause of a chronic itch on your male member could be the itch itself. This is a condition called lichen simplex and it describes how scratching an itchy patch of skin can cause the area to itch even more. This creates an itch-scratch-itch cycle and it becomes difficult to resist the urge to scratch.

A study from India on genital itching and the role that lichen simplex causes found that this is an extremely uncomfortable disease. The root cause of the itching can start out as a skin disease or irritation like eczema, sweating, stress, or chaffing of the thighs. Although the scrotum is often affected, the study found that lichen simplex can also affect the penis.7

To break the itching and scratching cycle, you could try applying witch hazel. According to doctors from WebMD, witch hazel is used to reduce itching, irritation, and swelling in many skin complaints.8

All you have to do is put some witch hazel on a cotton pad and apply to the scrotum or penile shaft whenever you have the urge to itch. Of course, if the intense itching is caused by another underlying medical condition, you should also address this to help get rid of the penile itching for good.

Allergic reactions

Itching in your private parts could be due to an allergic reaction to clothing or using condoms. Skin allergies, or allergic contact dermatitis, can occur if you have prolonged contact with the allergen or it can happen suddenly.

One study into the effect of latex on the skin found that many people are allergic to this substance. The researchers found that latex condoms can cause penile dermatitis which can cause itching, swelling, and red patches of skin.9 Urologist, Dr. Patrick Shenot says that allergies to birth control liquids or gels could also cause an itchy allergic reaction on the foreskin or penis itself.10

To prevent itching caused by an allergic reaction, it’s important to identify the trigger and avoid contact with it. In my article on the best cures for treating eczema naturally, you can find out how ingredients like witch hazel, oatmeal, coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar can help to soothe your skin.

You should also try to keep your groin area as dry as possible and avoid harsh soaps that could damage the delicate skin on your genitals. Dermatologists say that itchiness on the penile shaft can also be the result of vigorous cleaning and moisture.11

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Scrotal dermatitis

Dermatitis can also affect your scrotum and then spread to your male member which will then cause itching.

The Oman Medical Journal reported that dermatitis of the scrotum causes severe itching, redness, and thickening of the scrotal skin. The researcher found that stress could be a negative factor that causes itching around the genital region. Also, spermicidal agents on condoms can damage the protective layer of the skin and lead to itching and irritation in the groin area.12

To get relief from scrotal dermatitis and relieve penile itching and discomfort around the scrotum, you can try one of my great essential oils for eczema. There you can learn about the soothing and healing properties of lavender oil, chamomile essential oil, thyme oil, and much more.

You can also try gently massaging coconut oil or sweet almond oil onto the itchy patch of skin to help provide relief from damaged, inflamed skin that itches.

Penile psoriasis

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that can affect the glans (tip of the male member) or shaft. The exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, but a person who suffers from general psoriasis is more likely to get penile psoriasis.

Dr. Priyam Sobarun, a dermatologist in New Zealand, says that genital psoriasis can cause plaques and small bumps on the tip of the male genital organ. In men who have been circumcised, penile psoriasis will tend to be more scaly. Dr. Sobarun says that the penile lesions can become very itchy and painful.13

As the skin at the end of the penis is very sensitive and thin, you should be careful with what you use to relieve the pain. Doctors often prescribe corticosteroids, but Dr. Sobarun says that prolonged use of corticosteroids can damage the thin genital skin on the glans.

You could try having an oatmeal bath or making your own oatmeal paste to relieve the symptoms of psoriasis and help get rid of the severe penile itching. The Journal of Drugs in Dermatology reported that the healing effects of oatmeal can benefit damaged skin. Oatmeal is a gentle anti-inflammatory agent and helps to reduce inflammation. It was recommended that natural oatmeal can help treat inflammatory skin conditions and reduce the use of corticosteroids.14

Balanitis

Severe itching with redness around your foreskin and end of the male genital organ could be due to balanitis. This is an inflammatory skin condition that can be caused by yeast infections, bacterial infections, or other skin irritations.

According to Dr. Nick Imm on Patient.Info, balanitis can affect just a small part of the tip of the penis or it can affect the whole glans. This results in itching, soreness, and irritation of the male member and you may also have a thick discharge under the foreskin. It may even cause a burning sensation when you pee.15

Keeping your genital area clean and cleaning under the foreskin is one of the basic ways to prevent and treat balanitis. However, if the penile inflammation and itching are caused by another infection, it’s important to treat the underlying cause.

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Pubic lice or mites

One of the main symptoms of pubic lice is itching and severe skin irritation in the pubic area. Pubic lice, or crabs, are transmitted during sexual activity or by sharing contaminated items like towels or bed sheets.

Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on eMedicineHealth says that the severe itching that lice cause can lead to an itch-scratch-itch cycle and may be worse at night. You can also spread pubic lice to other parts of your body if you scratch moist areas with infected hands. You could also develop an infection in the itchy pubic area from scratching and breaking the skin.16

Scabies is another tiny mite that can infect your pubic area and cause extreme itching with an irresistible urge to scratch.

There are many effective ways to get rid of pubic lice and scabies. Some research has shown that neem oil is a natural way to destroy these skin-infesting pests from your pubic area. For example, research carried out in 2014 found that neem oil has lethal effect on scabies mites.17

To help stop itching in the genital area caused by lice and mites, try rubbing neem oil into the affected area. Leave the oil for a while to kill off the mites and then take a shower. Repeat the process once a day and continue until you no longer have any signs and symptoms of mites and pubic lice.

For more ideas on how to tackle the problems of lice, please read my article on the best home remedies to eradicate lice.

Lichen planus of the penis

Small red bumps that are very itchy could be a symptom of lichen planus. The itchy penile bumps are often caused by a reaction of the immune system to certain medications, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and some antibiotics.

Dr. Patrick Shenot from the Department of Urology at Thomas Jefferson University says that lichen planus can affect the head or shaft of the penis. The condition causes small red spots to appear that are often itchy. Usually, the condition resolves itself, however, Dr. Shenot recommends using anti-itch remedies to provide relief.18

Sexually transmitted disease (STD)

Various sexually transmitted diseases can cause itching in the penis and groin area. For example, doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that genital herpes can cause pain and itching in the genital area. This may start off as itching then turn into small itchy red bumps on the penis that blister and ooze fluid.19

Because sexually transmitted diseases are highly contagious and can be easily spread, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible for the proper treatment.

Red scrotum syndrome

Some middle-aged men develop a condition in their genitals called red scrotum syndrome. The condition causes the sac where the testicles are to become red. According to dermatologist Dr. Tim Cunliffe, the redness can spread to the base of the penis and itching and a burning sensation are usually some of the symptoms.20

Other Causes of an Itchy Penis

There are other reasons that your penis can become itchy for no apparent reason. Dr. Melissa Conrad Stöppler on MedicineNet says that friction, heat, and wearing tight underwear can all irritate the genital skin around the male genital organ and cause itching.1

When to See a Doctor

Even though itching on your penis head or penis shaft can be an embarrassing condition, you should not be afraid to speak to your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve. Apart from affecting your daily activities, penile itching that doesn’t go away is often easily resolved or could be a sign of something more serious.

If you still have itchiness and irritation around the genital area after trying the home remedies, have signs of an STD, or develop a secondary skin infection, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.

Read these related articles:

Article Sources

  1. MedicineNet. Penile itching.
  2. MedicineNet. Jock itch.
  3. NJDVL. 2015;13(1):24-30.
  4. NHS. Thrush in men.
  5. J Med Food. 2009 Dec;10(2):384-387.
  6. Acta Biol Hung. 2016 Jun;67(2):205-14.
  7. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2011 Jan-Feb;77(1):28-36
  8. WebMD. Witch hazel.
  9. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1994 Nov;75(11):1263-5.
  10. MerckManuals. Inflammation of the penis.
  11. DermNetNZ. Genital skin problems.
  12. Oman Med J. 2013 Sep; 28(5): 302–305.
  13. DermNetNZ. Genital psoriasis.
  14. J Drugs Dermatol. 2010 Sep;9(9):1116-20.
  15. PatientInfo. Balanitis.
  16. eMedicineHealth. What causes crabs?
  17. Vet Parasitol. 2014 Aug 29;204(3-4):323-9
  18. MSDManuals. Skin abnormalities affecting the penis.
  19. MayoClinic. STD Symptoms.
  20. PCDS. Red scrotum syndrome.
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10 Responses to Penile Itching: Causes, Home Treatments and When to See a Doctor

  1. Olaolu says:

    Thanks for this article. Please what is another name, family name, order-family name of TEA TREE OIL & where it can be found in nigeria.

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Tea tree oil is also known by the name Melaleuca alternifolia. I’m not sure where specifically in Nigeria you can find it, but generally speaking you can find essential oils in health shops, pharmacies or online (such as Amazon – check if they ship to Nigeria).

  2. Frank says:

    Coconut Oi,l Where Can I Buy It In Nigeria

    • Jenny Hills says:

      I don’t know specifically about Nigeria, but generally speaking you can buy virgin coconut oil in supermarkets, health food stores or online.

  3. Frank says:

    Which Other Oil Can I Use That Is Very Effective That Is Sold In Lagos Nigeria.

    • Jenny Hills says:

      Coconut oil has the advantage of being antibacterial and anti fungal hence can help in cases of infections (such as jock itch or yeast infection), however if there is no infection, such as in cases of dermatitis or other skin irritations, then you can use any other natural cold pressed oil to help relieve damaged itchy skin.

  4. Alex says:

    Can hepatitis B cause itching of the pubic area? What are the home remedies to treat Hep B?

    • Jenny Hills, Medical Writer and Researcher says:

      I couldn’t find in medical websites a link between hep. B and penile itching. Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection so don’t treat it with home remedies. Go to your doctor for a professional medical treatment.

  5. daniel awoala tom says:

    i been trying my best for 4 months now to tackle this same itching sensation on penis cap and scrotum and its not giving me any sign of relief what should i do its irretating me

    • Jenny Hills, Medical Writer and Researcher says:

      I guess if nothing helps then you need to see your doctor for further advice.

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