While jock itch is probably the most frequent culprit of itchy testicles, there are a number of other potential causes.
Editors’ Note: You’ll notice that this article doesn’t have many pictures. Since many of the images associated with these disorders can be a little disturbing, we’ve opted to let readers seek out images on their own.
A wide range of skin disorders can give you that scratchy feeling downstairs. Here are a couple of the more common varieties:
Psoriasis is a common, chronic skin inflammation that is accompanied by a scaly rash. It has a genetic predisposition and affects people of all ages. Fun fact: it’s the most common type of skin inflammation affecting the genitals.
It appears on the penis as thin, pale, reddish plaques with scales. It can also show up in the groin area as smooth and shiny, bright red rashes without scaling, which is called ‘inverse psoriasis’. In addition to the groin, it can also pop up in the armpits, under the breasts, and in skin folds around the genitals and the butt.
Eczema and Dermatitis
Eczema or skin inflammation (dermatitis) is defined as a dry skin condition. There are many different types of eczema, but the ones that usually causes of male itching are atopic and contact dermatitis.
In mild cases, the skin is itchy, dry, red, and scaly, with small, fluid filled sacs. In severe cases, these sacs break open and fluid oozes out, resulting in a weeping lesion.
The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis. It’s a hereditary condition that affects all races and all ages, particularly infants and children. Eczema often shows up in the genital area, particularly the scrotum. It can also appear on the face, scalp, neck, and legs.
Atopic dermatitis causes intense itching along with with sweat and a sensation of heat. The affected area becomes tough and thick (lichenified) following constant scratching. Atopic dermatitis is often triggered by soap and detergents, pollen, dust mites, animal dander, heat, rough clothing, and skin infection.
Contact dermatitis is classified as irritant and allergic dermatitis. Irritant contact dermatitis is due to repeated contact of the skin with harsh chemicals such as bleach, laundry detergents, disinfectant, perfumed bath soaps. It can also be brought on by cold wind and tight or poorly-fitting clothes. The most commonly affected areas are the hands, face and other body parts, including the genitals.
It is also called occupational skin disease. People at risk include those who work as nurses, hairdressers, cleaners, construction workers, and metal workers. People with with atopic dermatitis are also at risk for contact dermatitis.
Allergic contact dermatitis is yet another variety of dermatitis that is less common than irritant contact dermatitis. For this form to develop, the affected person will usually have been exposed repeatedly to a chemical or allergy-causing substance for a long period of time.
The body’s allergic mechanism remembers the allergen when the person is exposed again to the allergen. The reaction may be immediate or delayed (may take 24 to 72 hours) characterized by red, dry, itchy, painful, oozing small fluid filled vesicles.
Intertrigo or Intertriginous Dermatitis
- dermatitis involves irritation of folded skin surfaces like the armpits, belly, under the breasts, buttocks, the groin, and genital areas. This is induced by moisture, heat, friction, or maceration or lack of circulation between the folds resulting in an itchy, reddish or brownish rash, crusty or oozing skin with foul odor.
Lichen Planus and Lichen Sclerosis
Lichen planus is a skin inflammation characterized by purple, flat-topped papules that may appear on any part of the body. It occurs at any age, especially the 30-60 years old. It appears on the penis as part of a disease, such as alopecia areata, ulcerative colitis, vitiligo, or myasthenia gravis.
The cause is unknown but its appearance is triggered by certain drugs, stress, hepatitis C virus infection, chronic active hepatitis, or biliary cirrhosis.
Lichen sclerosis is an uncommon long-term skin condition characterized by patchy, white thin skin. The cause is unknown and affects any part of the body, most especially the foreskin of the penis and anus.
Symptoms of lichen sclerosis can include severe itching, easy bruising, bleeding, blisters and painful intercourse.
Diabetes is a condition that results in genital itching. This is due to the presence of yeast infection (candidiasis). The high glucose level in the blood and urine promotes the growth of C. albicans that is normally present and which also diminishes the body’s resistance to fight infection.
Cancers of the penis can result in symptoms that include itching, redness, rash, pain, foul-smelling discharge, and a non-healing blister or ulcer.
Yes, there are still more potential causes of male itching. In addition to jock itch (covered in depth here) there’s molluscum contagiosum, and candidiasis.
Acommon skin disease caused by a Poxvirus. It occurs primarily in children (boys more than girls) and in young adults.
It appears as small white, pink or flesh colored bumps with a dimple or depression at the center. The virus is spread from personal interaction or by contact with infected objects like towels, clothing, or toys.
Candidiasis is commonly known as a yeast infection, and yes, guys can get them too (although not as frequently as women).
It’s caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans. It’s normally found in the skin, mouth, and gut.
It’s known thrush when it occurs in the mouth, diaper rash when it affects the baby’s bottom area, candidiasis when the blood is infected, and yeast infection when it affects the genital area.
While much more common in women, male yeast infection occurs most commonly among those who have not been circumcised.