Maybe you notice some dry skin on your penis. Or maybe it itches in a way that annoys the heck out of you. If the itch isn’t annoying enough, wondering whether you should just use a body moisturizer there or if you need something different can keep you feeling uncomfortable. And there’s this nagging other thing: Maybe you worry that it’s not just dry skin—that you’ve got some kind of funk on your junk that’s causing jock itch, or something worse.
Men’s HealthStudio D
Sometimes it’s just plain dry skin. “The best thing that you can do for a dry groin is to moisturize the area with a bland, emollient ointment like Aquaphor or Cerave Healing Ointment or a product that contains Shea Butter that will help to alleviate chafing, irritation and raw skin,” says MH dermatology advisor Corey L. Hartman, MD. But if there’s any itch, he says, it might be something that needs a different treatment or a trip to the dermatologist.
To know how to moisturize the skin on and around your penis, you need to know what kind of itchy spot you’re dealing with. Discover the most common reasons for dry, itchy groin skin and what to do about them:
Sudden red, itchy rash: Contact dermatitis (doctor-speak for an allergic reaction)
You could be allergic to your condoms, your laundry detergent, or even the lotion or perfume your partner uses. Stop the skin drama with an OTC steroid cream like cortisone. But try not to just guess that this is what’s going on and slap some on. “All itch is not created equal and steroid creams can actually worsen a fungal or bacterial infection,” explains Dr. Hartman. If you use that cream for a week or 10 days and don’t see any improvement, seek medical care, he says. Also, switch to a mild laundry detergent. Dr. Hartman also recommends double-rinsing the clothes and avoiding fabric softeners.
Bright red, itchy rash where your legs meet your groin: Jock itch
“Jock itch requires either oral or topical anti fungal agents, some of which require a prescription from a dermatologist,” explains Dr. Hartman. If you’re prone to jock itch, put some antifungal powder in your groin area before a workout, and if it makes sense with your workout, wear loose-fitting clothing.
Prevent it next time: Keep your groin area dry. That means getting out of your sweaty workout clothes right away (and ideally taking a shower right away, too), and using some powder before you begin.
What you probably didn’t know: “A lot of jock itch is actually initiated by pulling underwear over feet that are infected with fungus (athlete’s foot) and transferring the organism to the groin, so be sure to treat the foot fungus first,” Dr, Hartman says.
Patches of yellow, greasy flakes with pinpoint bleeding when scratched: Psoriasis
You might find similar patches on your elbows, knees, belly button, or scalp, and your fingernails and toenails may begin to look bumpy. You can also use a hydrocortisone cream. Psoriasis isn’t a one-off kind of thing, it’s an autoimmune disease, so it’s worth seeing a doctor about so you can manage it right.
Rash with white, powdery scales in the folds of the skin: Eczema
It can also show up in the crooks of your elbows and on the backs of your knees. “The best defense against eczema is an intact skin barrier,” Dr. Hartman says. And the best way to ensure that the skin barrier is intact is to moisturize with a thick, bland moisturizing cream that is fragrance- and preservative-free.” Some options: Vanicream Moisturizing Cream or CeraVe cream.
Any one of the above that doesn’t go away after treatment, plus irregular bumps: See a doctor. It’s possible to get skin cancer on your penis (yes, even if you keep it covered on the beach). You’ll need to visit a specialist for a biopsy of the affected area. Don’t keep thinking “it’s probably nothing,” or let any kind of weirdness you might feel keep you from the doctor (doctors tell us they don’t really think anything is weird, and are glad you come in and ask…or do a telemedicine call). The American Cancer Society points out that if they’re caught early, they can usually be cured.
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