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Solving the Itchy Penis: Is It Jock Itch or Herpes?
When a man has an itch that just won't go away, it's natural to start to worry about what might be causing it. That's especially true when it's an itchy penis he's dealing with. To make matters worse, a man who is sexually active might have cause to believe he has contracted herpes, even if he practiced the best penis care possible during his encounter.
The good news is that for most guys, that itchy penis will turn out to simply be a case of bad jock itch. But for others, the dreaded news of a herpes infection is in their future. How can a guy get insight into which diagnosis he will get for that itchy penis?
The symptoms of jock itch
Many guys wind up with jock itch at some point in their lives, and it's certainly no fun. The biggest symptom is an unrelenting, maddening itch, which can actually morph into pain rather quickly. The pain will be centered on the inner thighs, buttocks and groin. It's especially prominent in the darker areas of the body, such as the bend between the thigh and the torso. That's because it's caused by a tiny fungal spore that thrives in moisture and darkness. That's also why men who tend to work out a lot and sweat plenty down there are more likely to develop jock itch. To make matters worse, a guy will often develop an inflamed, red rash along the affected areas.
The symptoms of herpes
Herpes also presents with terrible itching, which is why men will often worry that their itchy penis is caused by this sexually transmitted disease. In addition, a guy might notice that he feels as though he is coming down with the flu, complete with muscle aches, headache, fever and even swollen lymph nodes. Shortly after this, a guy will start to see tiny blisters appear. They might look like a red rash at first, which can make a man think it's just jock itch. But as the situation progresses, that redness will turn into blisters, very warm to the touch, that are filled with fluid. When the blisters pop, it creates a crusty sore that can be quite painful.
Why they might seem similar?
In the beginning of each situation, a man might see redness and some spots that create an overall rash. But in jock itch, the redness might be interspersed with tiny blisters, especially near the edges of the red areas. These tiny blisters don't pop, rarely excrete fluid and go away quickly. With herpes, on the other hand, the blisters pop and turn into sores, and they linger for two weeks or so before they dissipate. In addition, remember that a herpes outbreak often comes along with flu-like symptoms; jock itch does not.
The best treatments for jock itch and herpes are quite different. For jock itch, a doctor will prescribe an anti-fungal cream to be slathered on the area for a few days. This usually works quite well. A guy will also need to step up his penis care game and pay more attention to careful showers, especially after workouts or other sweaty events.
Herpes typically requires a course of medication during breakouts. Some people will choose to take medications on a daily basis to prevent breakouts in the first place. Again, good penis care is essential, especially the use of a condom during sexual activity. This not only protects a guy's junk, but protects his partners from contracting herpes from him.
For any condition that might cause an itchy penis, a man should reach for a specially formulated penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin). The use of this crème can help ensure good daily penis care. A crème that contains alpha lipoic acid to fight the free radicals that can cause skin damage is always a good idea. And since treatments for an itchy penis often result in dry penis skin, a crème that contains luxurious Shea butter and a dose of healthy vitamin E is recommended.
When Penis Rash Comes From Pityriasis Lichenoides
Just as a man may be worried about how an exposed skin rash can make his face or arms look (and about what message such a rash may send to a potential sexual partner), so is he concerned when a penis rash rears its ugly head. Often the penis rash is due to penis health issues, sometimes including the ghastly presence of an STI. But in other cases the rash is simply a dermatological issue, a skin rash that just happens to appear on the penis. That can be the case with pityriasis lichenoides, a skin eruption that is little-known.
About pityriasis lichenoides
As is often the case, the name pityriasis lichenoides makes it sound more formidable and dangerous than it actually is. "Pityriasis" is from a Greek word meaning "bran," and it refers to skin that is flaky or scaly. "Lichenoides" refers to the physical appearance of the rash.
Typically, this rash first presents as bright red oval spots, sometimes flat, sometimes raised like a bump. They can vary in size from 2 mm to 10 mm in diameter. But the spots change, turning into blisters with fluid inside, and then into crusty ulcers. The spots often appear in clusters as an identifiable rash, but sometimes there can be "loners" which occupy an area of skin fairly far away from other spots.
There are three forms of pityriasis lichenoides, all of which are rare. One form is considered serious. The forms are listed below, referred to in the acronym form by which they are frequently known.
- PLEVA is the one most likely to cause a penis rash, as it tends to occur on the penis in about 10% of cases (usually while also appearing elsewhere on the body). The penis rash may cause itching or a slight burning situation, but often it has no noticeable effects. Without treatment, the rash can last for 6 weeks to about 18 months, usually coming and going several times during the lengthier time frames. PLEVA sometimes leaves behind scarring or some skin discoloration.
- PLC is somewhat more common than PLEVA, and less likely to occur as a penis rash (though still possible). It is milder than PLEVA, with the spots less noticeable and rarely any subsequent scarring.
- FUMHD is the rarest form and the one which is considered quite serious. The spots tend to appear as red or black ulcers, and there are usually other symptoms, including a high fever, severe stomach pain, diarrhea, pains in the joints, interference with breathing and variations in mental state. A doctor should be seen right away.
PLEVA and PLC are self-resolving, but because it can take months, many people prefer to have a doctor help the process along. Antibiotics shorten the length of time the disease is present, and steroids can help to make the rash go away. FUMHD requires hospitalization for treatment.
Although a penis rash can be off-putting, pityriasis lichenoides is not known to be contagious.
Pityriasis lichenoides is fortunately a rare source of a penis rash. The itching and discomfort associated with many a penis rash can often be alleviated if a man regularly uses a superior penis health (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin). Even when a rash is not present, an itchy penis is often due to skin that is too dry. Therefore, take care when selecting a crème to be sure it contains both a high-end emollient (such as natural Shea butter) and a powerful hydrator (such as vitamin E). In addition, the presence of vitamin C in the crème is advised. Vitamin C is a prime component of collagen, a tissue in the body that gives skin its tone and elasticity.