The 6 most common causes of itching in the genital area

The most common causes of itching: When it itches, pretty much every man scratches his genital area from time to time. It only becomes annoying when you can no longer walk straight in public because of the itching and the feeling just doesn’t go away for days. We explain the 6 most common causes of itching in the genital area and what you can do about it.

Can itching in the genital area be dangerous?

You can breathe a sigh of relief: itching on the penis or testicles is usually harmless and can be treated successfully. However, it is important to see a doctor if you have acute itching so that the cause can be identified. Some infections can cause itching that does not go away without treatment.


When does itching in the intimate area need to be treated?

“If the itching does not go away and it is affecting your quality of life, you should go to the doctor,” advises urologist Dr. Wolfgang Bühmann , press spokesman for the Professional Association of German Urologists. The sooner you get to the bottom of the cause, the sooner you can say goodbye to the annoying urge to scratch.

6 Causes of Itching in the Genital Area

The reasons for the itching can be harmless, but they can also require treatment. However, once you know where the itching is coming from, you can combat it effectively.

1. Moisture and heat are often to blame for an itchy penis

In summer, many men’s genital areas itch more. The reason: “Moisture and heat irritate the skin,” explains Dr. Bühmann. This form of itching occurs most frequently. The rule here is: it is harmless, but annoying. When sweating in the heat, you should wash your genital area thoroughly on a regular basis; this can usually reduce the itching quickly and sustainably. You can also see The best exercises for the 7 most neglected muscles


It is important, however, to avoid perfumed soaps when washing. Warm water is sufficient to clean the penis. Simply gently push back the foreskin and clean it manually with water. You should avoid perfumed shower gels on the supermarket shelf, as they can attack the skin’s protective layer. If you use shower gel, then use a pH-neutral and perfume-free one, e.g. from Eubos .

By the way: Studies show that circumcised men suffer less frequently from infections of the penis and especially the glans than uncircumcised men. You can find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of circumcision .

2. Allergic reactions can cause itching

Even your underwear can be responsible for the annoying itching. For example, if you have an allergy to detergent or certain clothing materials. “Itching is often caused by an allergic reaction,” says the expert. If you have itching of unknown cause, it’s worth switching to a sensitive washing gel and underwear made of organic cotton (e.g. from Snocks ).

Some people, for example, are allergic to synthetic laundry. Reason enough to get tested for intolerances by a dermatologist and switch to laundry made of other materials, preferably cotton.

3. Chafing irritates the skin on the testicles

Irritation of the scrotum often occurs after long walks or a long run. Chafing is usually the cause of the annoying itching. “If the thigh rubs against the scrotum, the skin can become sore due to the moisture and friction,” says Dr. Bühmann. This can also cause severe itching.

Scratching is taboo, however, because otherwise the skin cannot heal and may become further inflamed. It is better to use a pH-neutral moisturizer or wound and healing ointments . You should also postpone your next run until the skin has recovered.

4. Fungal and bacterial infections must be treated

You definitely don’t have an allergy and the itching doesn’t go away despite taking the right hygiene measures? Then fungi or bacterial infections could be the problem. These mostly settle in the urethral opening and under the foreskin and often become noticeable through redness.

Sometimes over-the-counter anti-fungal creams (e.g. clotrimaziol ) are enough to eliminate the germs that are causing the infection. But: “If bacteria are the cause, antibiotics are sometimes necessary,” says expert Bühmann. If the itching is persistent and severe, go to the doctor – with the right treatment, the itching will be gone after 3 to 4 days.

5. Lice can leave itchy bite marks

Lice are primarily known for infesting head hair. But lice also find their way into the intimate area – assuming you haven’t shaved off your pubic hair yet. “The body reacts allergically to the tiny bite marks – similar to mosquito bites,” says Dr. Bühmann.

Lice are not dangerous, but they must be removed. Your doctor will prescribe shampoos or lotions to kill the lice and nits (eggs) (e.g. Linicin Lotion with lice comb ) and ointments to reduce itching (e.g. Sorion Repair Cream ). To protect yourself from lice in the long term, you should actually just shave off your pubic hair.

6. Herpes can cause itching

Herpes is famous and notorious for itchy and painful blisters in the genital area. Almost everyone has the viral infection, but only some people experience it. “Herpes viruses are found in the spinal fluid of almost everyone and cannot be permanently eliminated,” says the urologist.

The risk of contracting the disease increases, especially if the immune system is weakened. Genital herpes heals after about 3 weeks, but treatment is usually not necessary. Your doctor can recommend special creams, lotions and powders that can relieve the symptoms. Very important: strict hygiene, frequent hand washing, because herpes is highly contagious. Therefore, for the sake of your partner, you should definitely wear a condom during sex, or better yet, avoid it altogether for the time being.

Conclusion: An itchy penis is unpleasant, but not dangerous

As soon as you know what is causing the big crawling in the intimate area, the solution is not far away. If the symptoms persist, it is best to have them checked by a doctor. Wound ointments help with skin irritations, and fungal and bacterial infections are a thing of the past within 3 to 4 days with the right, doctor-prescribed special cream or antibiotic. Regular care with pH-neutral soap also pays off if you sweat a lot in the intimate area. Good to know: “An itchy intimate area is unpleasant, but not dangerous,” says expert Bühmann.

Source mentioned:

Brian J. Morris et al.: Penile Inflammatory Skin Disorders and the Preventive Role of Circumcision, 2017, National Library of Medicine; doi 10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_377_16


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