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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Treatment

Treatment depends on the cause.

If your problem is caused by a yeast infection, you will be advised to use an antifungal cream. Clotrimazole (Lotrimin, Mycelex) is a very effective over-the-counter medication, which is also used for treating vaginal yeast infections and athlete's foot. Apply it to the affected area two to three times daily for 10 days. Your doctor also may recommend a prescription antifungal treatment, either in a cream or pill form.

If you have an infection with skin bacteria, you will be told to use an antibiotic cream, and to make sure you clean the area thoroughly. Occasionally antibiotic pills may be necessary.

When the skin is inflamed, but not infected, you will be advised to keep the area clean and dry and to avoid any soaps or skin lotions that may be aggravating the condition. Sometimes a cortisone cream can help to improve the problem more quickly. However, cortisone can make certain infections worse, so it is best to avoid this type of medication unless it is prescribed by a physician.

Circumcision often prevents repeated infections, especially in uncircumcised men who have a tight, difficult-to-retract foreskin. Once effective treatment begins, you usually do not need to avoid sex, although sexual contact can chafe or inflame the affected area. Rarely, sexual contact can pass an infection back and forth between partners. If this occurs, both partners may require treatment at the same time to prevent further episodes.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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