Though yeast infections are usually thought of as primarily afflicting women and babies (in the form of diaper rash), male yeast infections, especially the oral variety, are not unknown. The most common oral yeast infection is thrush, characterized by a whitish or yellowish coating inside the mouth, but other forms of oral yeast infections, both in males and females, are possible. Fortunately, most male yeast infections, both oral and genital, are very treatable.
Symptoms of Oral Yeast Infections
Yeast, in several forms, occurs naturally on the skin, in the digestive tract, and especially in moist, dark areas such as the genitalia and armpits. When the body’s natural balance of microorganisms gets out of balance—for males, most often because of antibiotics that kill the body’s natural yeast inhibitors—yeast can reproduce much faster than usual, causing an infection.
Male and female oral yeast infections usually appear in one of four forms. First is moniliasis, or thrush, as described above. Often, thrush has no symptoms other than the yellowish or whitish coating described above, but it can also produce a burning or itching sensation. Second, oral yeast infections can appear in a form known as erythematous yeast infection, characterized by red, peeling patches on the palate and tongue.
A chronic hyperplastic oral yeast infection displays patches of extra tissue, not easily removed by wiping or brushing, that can also become discolored by food or tobacco use. Finally, angular cheilitis is a form of oral yeast infections in males and females that is evidenced by cracking in the corners of the lips, sometimes covered by a pseudo membrane.
What to Do about Male Oral Yeast Infections
If you believe you have an oral yeast infection, see your doctor. Your physician will probably prescribe one of several antifungal medications that kill the yeast and help the body restore a normal balance. You may also need to make some changes in your diet to reduce the intake of substances that contribute to yeast growth: sugar, alcohol, and bread are high on this list.
You may also want to increase your consumption of yogurt or other dairy products containing acidophilus, a “friendly” bacterium that helps to inhibit the growth of yeast. As a precaution, you should also rinse your toothbrush with household hydrogen peroxide, to avoid reinfection yourself.
If you have a partner with whom you are in intimate physical contact, such as kissing or oral intercourse, you and your partner should probably abstain from such contact until the infection is cleared up, to avoid spreading the infection. Yeast infections will generally begin to clear within seven to ten days of beginning treatment.