A dry, itchy penis can be caused by many different problems, ranging from dry skin to allergies to heart disease. Most cases of penile itching and dryness are easily dealt with and temporary, but men who have chronically dry, itchy skin may need to look deeper for a solution. Ongoing health issues such as psoriasis, eczema and even diabetes can cause these, as well as other, skin issues that may affect the penis. Since psoriasis and eczema are already fairly well-known for causing skin problems, it is worth exploring the diabetes angle a little bit further. Whether men have already been diagnosed with diabetes or they are trying to pinpoint the cause of their symptoms, it is useful to know about how this increasingly common disease can impact penis health.
Diabetes is a systemic disease most commonly seen in overweight individuals. It occurs when the body is not able to produce enough insulin or cannot use it properly. Insulin is a hormone that keeps glucose (blood sugar) levels under control. Having high levels of blood sugar for extended periods of time can cause significant damage to all parts of the body, and the problems related to diabetes can be extensive. The skin, including the penile skin, is frequently affected, and men may experience any of the following conditions that present as a dry and/or itchy penis.
1) Thrush. Men with diabetes are especially prone to thrush, a fungal infection caused by the Candida albicans yeast (the same organism responsible for feminine yeast infections). Thrush is characterized by skin that is dry and itchy; deep fissures may also develop, especially in the foreskin in uncircumcised men. Some men may also have swelling and/or a white or yellowish discharge that has a consistency similar to cottage cheese. An over-the-counter antifungal cream will generally clear up a yeast infection, but men with recurring episodes of thrush should bring this to the attention of their physicians.
2) Other fungal infections. Diabetes may also increase the incidence of other types of fungal skin infections, including jock itch. These may present as red, scaly, spreading rashes that can be moderately to severely itchy. Again, over-the-counter fungal remedies are generally used to treat these infections. To minimize the risk of fungal infections, always wear clean, dry clothing and avoid sharing personal items such as towels and razors.
3) Poor circulation. Diabetes takes a toll on the circulatory tissue; patients with diabetes often experience poor circulation, particularly in the extremities. Poor blood flow can cause itching and/or a tingling sensation. Some people report feeling that their skin is “crawling.” Keeping the skin well-moisturized may help to combat this issue.
4) Bacterial infections. Diabetescompromises the immune system, increasing the risk of bacterial infections. Many of these affect parts of the body such as the eyes, nails and skin. Deep tissue infections called carbuncles can cause redness, swelling and itching; antibiotics are required for treating bacterial infections.
5) Eruptive xanthomatosis. This condition mainly affects younger men with type 1 diabetes and appears as hard, yellowish bumps that may have a red “halo” around them and may be considerably itchy. While it is more common on the hands, feet, arms and buttocks, other parts of the body may also be affected. The best way to cope with this issue is to follow a treatment plan for keeping blood glucose levels under control.
What can men do to prevent or soothe dry, itchy skin?
Aside from condition-specific treatments, there are several things that men can do to avoid developing dryness and itching, and to soothe it when it does occur.
– When bathing, use warm, not hot, water. Excessive heat can strip the natural lubricating oils from the skin.
– Use a mild cleanser designed for sensitive skin – baby washes or hypoallergenic products work well.
– Make sure the skin, including that of the penis, is dry before putting on any clothes. Damp skin that is covered by clothing provides an ideal environment for yeast and other fungal issues.
– Moisturize regularly. Protecting the skin with high-end moisturizers can provide nutrient support in addition to keeping the skin hydrated and supple. When it comes to the penile tissue, a penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) may be the best option; look for a product that is fortified with vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids, as well as a sensitive skin moisturizer such as Shea butter. A cream like this can benefit all men, not just those with diabetes, as it contains a blend of nutrients that will keep the skin smooth and responsive. (Note: Never apply topical products such as cream or ointments to broken or inflamed skin except under the advice of a doctor. Men with diabetes should consult with their physician before applying any new products to the skin.)