It is not uncommon to hear from men – or their female partners – that they believe they have a skin allergy to a woman’s vaginal fluid; and it can be easy to understand why men who have frequent problems with dry, itchy penile skin after sex might think so. Men who have adverse reactions following intimate contact may feel frustrated or even angry and blame their condition on a partner – and this, of course, can lead to serious relationship problems. Fortunately, while there may be a real penis health problem to contend with, the answer is rarely a skin allergy to vaginal fluid. Here are a few of the more likely possibilities, as well as what men can do to soothe an itchy penis and prevent problems in the future.
Reasons that sex might cause dry, itchy penile skin:
1. A partner with a yeast infection. Although most people are more familiar with the feminine yeast infection, which is caused by the Candida yeast, men can also be affected. Symptoms of a Candida infection include dry, sometimes cracked skin, moderate to severe itching, a thick, whitish discharge and inflammation. Partners can easily transmit the infection back and forth, even when one partner does not have any obvious symptoms. A yeast infection can be cleared up using over-the-counter medications, but it is important that both partners are treated at the same time to prevent reinfection.
2. A partner with bacterial vaginosis. There are a large number of bacteria present in the female canal – some are beneficial, and some are not. Under normal conditions, the “good” bacteria cancel out the bad, but when the body’s natural chemical balance is disrupted, the “bad” bacteria can take over and cause an infection known as bacterial vaginosis. Not all women are aware they have this condition, but contact with an affected woman may cause male symptoms such as dryness and itching. Treatment by a doctor can eliminate the infection.
3. Allergy to latex. If men find that they develop dryness and itching following most encounters with a partner, it is important to consider all of the factors that might be at play. In many cases, it may be something the man himself is doing that is causing the problem. One cause of dryness and itching may be a latex allergy; switching barrier protection to a non-latex material may be the answer in this case.
4. Irritation caused by a personal lubricant. Personal lubricants often contain fragrances, flavors, or warming or cooling agents that are meant to enhance the sensual experience. However, these additives may include chemical irritations that can cause drying, redness, itching, soreness and a number of other uncomfortable symptoms. Sticking to neutral, water-based lubes may solve the itching problem for good.
5. Lack of lubrication. Another mistake that men may make during sex is to skip on the lube altogether. In this case, an excess of friction can cause minute tears in the surface of the skin that can leave him feeling sore, itchy and uncomfortable. To avoid this problem, it is best to make sure to have a lube on hand in case the natural fluids produced by the body are not sufficient.
Soothing dry, itchy penile skin
Although it is important to narrow down the source of the problem, and then to treat any underlying conditions and avoid triggers of skin reactions in the future, the first concern that most men likely have is to soothe the itch and ease the discomfort.
While a doctor should always be consulted, here are a few self-care tips that can help – just remember never to apply any medications, creams, lotions or other topical preparations to broken or inflamed skin.
1. Wash the area carefully with warm – not hot – water and a gentle cleanser; this will ensure that all traces of any irritants are washed away. Rinse thoroughly afterward and pat dry with a soft cloth.
2. For severe itching, try a colloidal oatmeal bath. Soaking in a lukewarm oatmeal bath is often recommended due to its skin-soothing properties.
3. Follow up with a nutrient-rich penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) that contains a natural emollient such as Shea butter, which is ideal for most skin types and is widely known for its moisturizing and healing ability.