There’s nothing worse than being halfway through a set or strolling through the office when your junk decides to start itching like crazy.
Reaching for a quick scratch probably isn’t as discrete as you’d hope, and running back and forth to the bathroom for some momentary relief is annoying and inconvenient.
Instead, here are 10 reasons your crotch is itchy, and how to quickly squash each issue.
10 Reasons You Have an Itchy Penis
If you don’t hop in the shower (or at least rinse off your groin area) after an intense workout, you may be more prone to an insatiable itch down there.
Naturally moist areas like your armpits and genitals are more susceptible to an overgrowth of sweat-loving skin microbiota which can cause you to itch.
Avoid sweat-related itchiness by opting for looser gym clothes and cleansing the area regularly, especially as soon as you finish any sweat-inducing activities, Elist says.
“Using antiperspirants and powders specifically designed for the groin area can also help manage sweat and reduce itchiness,” says Elist.
Even with the right gear, getting the perfect manscaping shave is hard—especially if you’re dealing with coarse pubic hair. You might be tempted to go to town on the same patch of skin to get a smooth shave, but Elist says “If you’re experiencing itchiness after shaving, it’s important to avoid shaving too closely and to use a gentle shaving cream” to prevent irritation.
A short crop is your best bet. But if you prefer a buzz cut, apply a soothing lotion or cream specifically designed for the genital area.
Even if shaving didn’t make you itch, regrowth can be a bitch. Ingrown hairs occur when the hair starts to grow back but gets stuck under the skin.
Shaving or waxing in the opposite direction of hair growth can make you more prone to these itchy, and sometimes painful, bumps that tend to show up a few days after hair removal. Shave or pull off the wax strip in the same direction your hair grows.
“Exfoliating the area regularly with a gentle scrub can also help prevent ingrown hairs,” says Elist. “To treat ingrown hairs use warm compresses to help reduce inflammation and apply a topical cream or ointment to the area.”
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused when irritation-causing bacteria grow in your urinary tract, which can result in pain and itchiness in your penis. You might also notice a slight tinge of blood in your urine.
“To prevent UTIs, it’s important to practice good hygiene and to drink plenty of water. Urinating after sex can also help prevent UTIs,” says Elist.
A doctor or urgent care practitioner can easily diagnose a UTI with a urine sample and prescribe a round of antibiotics to provide fast relief.
Notice abnormal, white or clear discharge at the head or folds of your penis? There’s a good chance you have a fungal overgrowth, such as a yeast infection. There are several factors that increase your chances of developing an overgrowth of yeast in your penis.
“A yeast infection is more common in men who are uncircumcised, overweight, or have type 2 diabetes,” board-certified dermatologist Michael Gowen, M.D. previously told the Edge. Yeast infections can be treated with a prescription topical or oral antifungal medication.
To prevent future infections, Elist recommends “practicing good hygiene,” as well as, “wearing breathable, loose-fitting clothing, avoiding scented products in the genital area and making sure to dry the area thoroughly after showering or swimming.”
Any activity that causes your inner thighs to rub together—like running—can cause an itchy rash called chafing. As the skin rubs together, inflammation and even tiny abrasions can occur, which look like a bright, red rash on the impacted area.
If you’re struggling with chafing, Elist recommends applying a soothing cream or ointment to help reduce inflammation.” And, “avoid scratching the area.”
Try applying a skin barrier protecting or anti-chafing cream like Aquaphor Healing Ointment or Gold Bond Friction Defense to help soothe or prevent irritation.
Or if you hate the feeling of heavy lotions while you workout, opt for anti-chafing underwear.
Like its name would suggest, jock itch—or tinea cruris—is a fungal infection that thrives in warm, damp environments, like when you keep your sweaty gym clothes on for too long. This infection will appear dry and flakey, and can affect your groin, butt, penis, and thighs.
To treat this itch, your doctor may prescribe you a topical antifungal cream. And If you’re going to be working out for a while, make sure to wear loose-fitting clothes made from breathable material.
A pro-tip from Elist: “Avoid sharing towels or clothing with others who may have jock itch.”
Did you switch up your go-to shower or laundry products recently? You could be allergic to one of the new ingredients.
Stop using the products that may have caused the flare up and switch to non-scented, non-comedogenic (that means it won’t clog your pores) products until the itching subsides. Then, patch test the suspected irritant on a neutral area like your arm to see if the rash pops back up.
If you already have psoriasis, an autoimmune condition that causes skin flare-ups, your chances of getting symptoms on your penis is pretty high. In fact, around 60 percent of adults with psoriasis will develop the rash on their genitals at some point in their lives (1).
“To manage psoriasis-related itchiness, it’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s treatment plan. This may include using topical creams or ointments, taking oral medications, or undergoing light therapy,” Elist says. “It’s also important to avoid scratching the affected area, as this can make symptoms worse.”
If you suspect your itch could be due to public lice or an STI like genital warts or chlamydia, you need to see a doctor ASAP. If left untreated, these STIs may put you at risk for infertility or chronic illness.
Elist notes that “it’s important to practice safe sex and get tested regularly if you are sexually active.”
Luckily, most sexually transmitted infections can be easily diagnosed and treated with a short course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. If you find out you have an STI, make sure to reach out to any recent sex partners to let them know to also get tested.
Don’t want to confront a casual hook-up or one night stand directly? You can use anonymous STI notification sites like TellYourPartner.org or STDCheck.com that will send them a text to let them know to get tested.