Any specific reason why I would get really dry skin "down there," and is there a remedy?
October 8, 2007 9:01 PM   Subscribe

Any specific reason why I would get really dry skin "down there," and is there a remedy?

I know that AskMeFi is not always the best place for medical advice, but seeing a doctor about this issue is really really embarassing, plus I don't currently have insurance. The embarassment thing is also why I'm posting anonymously. Now that that's out of the way...

I am a 21-year old male. I am pretty average in every way, but for almost a year now I've had a really bad problem relating to the skin of my genital area. The real problem is that the skin is very dry and flaky, and it gets itchy as well. My scrotum is pretty much always this way, but the actual penis seems normal until I get an erection, at which point it is also very dry and flaky. It varies in severity, but I can't get a fix on what might be causing the fluctuation. At times it's bad enough that I will get sores or mild bleeding of the affected area.

To answer questions that are immediately jumping to your minds: I am not and have never been sexually active. I am getting married very shortly and I would like this issue to be resolved if possible by that time. Also, I do have very mild eczema, which might be contributing to the problem, but the symptoms I have on the rest of my body are not of the dry skin variety. I don't do anything that could be considered unusual. I try to avoid scratching as much as possible but I'm sure it inevitably happens while I sleep.

As far as what I've tried... well, what is there, really? I've tried various lotions and creams, which can help soothe the itching most of the time, but nothing has helped the dry and cracking skin. I also had a suggestion to try Vaseline, but considering how messy and uncomfortable that solution is, I don't want to do it unless I have to.

So, has anyone dealt with this type of issue specifically, or do you have any suggestions on remedies or where I should go for more help? At the very least could someone answer me the question of exactly what kind of doctor I should see about this, and how to broach the issue appropriately?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (22 answers total)

I do not own a penis (and, yes, I AM NOT A DOCTOR, geez) so this is a guess, but: is that perhaps what jock itch is like? In that case, it would just be a simple fungal infection and I'm sure your local pharmacy sells something that would take care of it.

If not, what do you use to wash your undergarments? You may want to switch to a non-perfumed kind of detergent and rinse your laundry twice.

AskMe is exceedingly fond of telling people that their medical issues sound DIRE, but this sounds like you're either having an allergic reaction, something associated with your mild eczema, or a fungal problem. None of these issues will cause a doctor to recoil in horror, and you'll have the fun experience of smugly countering any "Well, it could be an STD" with "Actually, I'm saving myself for marriage, so I think not."

Congratulations on getting married!
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:12 PM on October 8, 2007

thehmsbeagle - jock itch is usually moist and itchy rather than dry and itchy.

Do you drink enough water? Drinking enough water tends to help when I get patchy, dry skin.
Do you wear underwear? Do you change your underwear regularly? Have you purchased new underwear recently?
How often do you masturbate? It may do you some good to use a good moisturizing lube (or take a break).

It can be so many things that going to a doctor really may be the easiest way to sort it out. Even if you have no insurance, there's surely a clinic you can go to.
Believe me when I say that, the doctor has seen MUCH worse than what you've got.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:24 PM on October 8, 2007

Usual disclaimer: IANAD, and I don't work in a medical field. That being said, this sounds like jock itch. Get the spray can at the drug store, follow the instructions. It should get better relatively soon; if it doesn't, follow the clause about "if symptoms persist, see a doctor". Your perfectly normal general practitioner will be fine. There's nothing here they'll run screaming in horror from.
posted by atbash at 9:28 PM on October 8, 2007

If your doctor (normal doctor is OK) says it's not any kind of fungus/infection, try something like Pjur lube. If nothing else, at least you'll be able to use it to kill the itching on your wedding night as well as when you're alone.
posted by anaelith at 9:33 PM on October 8, 2007

IANAD, but I'd try Lotrimin AF.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:35 PM on October 8, 2007

Right after you shower, either moisturize your scrotum or powder it with goldbond or talc. Refrain from scratching for long enough, and the skin should return to normal. If it's not related to scratching, and it keeps coming back, then see a doctor - it could be nothing, it could be something horrible.
posted by tehloki at 10:17 PM on October 8, 2007

(IANAD but I had a similar problem and what I said above worked great)
posted by tehloki at 10:17 PM on October 8, 2007

No idea what the American version might be branded, but 'Betnovate' cream would probably help some - Available non prescription usually; it's a corticosteroid, albeit weak. More info
posted by DrtyBlvd at 12:02 AM on October 9, 2007

Just tempering the advice above: Jock itch can in fact cause dry, flaky skin. It's can be tricky, because the inflammation causes flaky skin, but moisture encourages the organisms that cause jock itch so moisturising alone can worsen things. And FWIW, jock itch tends to spare the scrotum.

If you diagnose yourself (or diagnose based on the advice of internet strangers) and go for an over-the-counter medicated cream/ointment, be pretty certain about your diagnosis. The treatments for dermatitis (steroids, e.g. Betnovate) and jock itch (anti-fungal cream, e.g. Lotrimin) are both available without a prescription. However steroids will make jock-itch worse after an initial transient benefit, and anti-fungals won't help dermatitis. If you do decide to self-medicate, getting it wrong at first won't kill you but have an open mind to switching if a full course of your chosen therapy doesn't help.

I would recommend seeing a doctor who will be able to tell you in 5 seconds what's going on so you can start appropriate treatment. A general practitioner or dermatologist would be your best bet. "The skin around my groin is itchy and dry" is a not-too-embarrassing way to bring it up. If they send you to buy anti-fungal cream and you're embarrassed, keep in mind that the cream to treat athlete's foot is the same so you could always tell the pharmacist that you've got that. Not that there's anything to be embarrassed about, really.
posted by teem at 12:59 AM on October 9, 2007

Masturbate using moisturizer as a lube (it's really like a two for one deal).
posted by thelongcon at 1:15 AM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

IANAD, but I was a nurses' aide in college, and one of the guys I cared for had something that sounds similar. I was always dabbing this cream that came out of a white tub onto his scrotum. He got it from his doctor, and I have no idea what it was.

If you're in college, go to the student health center. They're cheap. Also, they've seen everything, so a little dry skin won't faze them at all. Seriously. Just go.
posted by christinetheslp at 4:10 AM on October 9, 2007

You've gotten a couple of possible ideas, but based on what you've said I don't think that any physician would phone the diagnosis in. Frankly, you could have anything that produces these skin symptoms and just happen to have it on your genitals. Exactly what it looks like matters, and a decent history is needed.

At times it's bad enough that I will get sores or mild bleeding of the affected area.

And you haven't sucked up the pride to go to a free STD clinic (even though it's not an STD) or the cash for a trip to a general practitioner? Are you fucking kidding me? Open sores = bad news for possible infections regardless of how you got the sore.

As for the physician you should go to, a GP/family doctor ought be able to handle it. If you want a specialist off the bat, you could go to a dermatologist. They're expensive, but accustomed to taking cash. Also, know what else is expensive? When you get a blood infection from your open highly vascular wound and end up in the hospital.

As for how you should broach the subject, when the doctor asks you how you're doing you should say, "well doctor, I feel pretty good except that the skin on my scrotum and penis is really dry and irritated. Sometimes when I get an erection it's bad enough that the skin bleeds a little." Then the doctor will ask you some more questions and say "well, we better take a look at that." I assure you it's not the first penis that he/she has seen; they will not care or judge you about it. As a first year med student, they had to dissect a human body. That includes degloving the penis and unraveling the tubes inside the scrotum. People come in CONSTANTLY with digestive tract problems which necessitate looking at poo and investigating their rectum for a bleeder. The only way your skin irritation should get a reaction from them is if it's super-rare and they think that they might be able to publish a case in a journal about it.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:46 AM on October 9, 2007

If you have eczema, I'd recommend NOT trying talc, or lotion, or anything that has fragrance to it. Try switching to a dye/scent-free detergent, stop using scented dryer sheets or fabric softener and change to a gentle, unscented soap. It's quite likely you're just experiencing the same skin sensitivity that you're already dealing with...elsewhere.
posted by SassHat at 4:55 AM on October 9, 2007

Sounds like plain old hypoaquatic eczema in an unfortunate place. Step one- apply 1% cortisone ointment to the affected area twice a day for four days. Step two-- rub the affected area with Eucerin creme (this was probably the stuff in the white tub in one of the above responses, it's famous for eczema treatment) after shower and before bed to prevent it from coming back. I've never had hypoaquatic eczema on my nads, but it certainly sounds like that's what you're dealing with.

Keep in mind that I'm a layman with lots of eczema experience, not a doctor. Also keep in mind that the tube of cortisone says not to put it on your genitals-- personally, I wouldn't worry about it because every topical OTC says not to do that, but you have to make the decision for yourself.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:33 AM on October 9, 2007

Oh, if I didn't terrify you enough consider than if chronic inflammation of the skin of the testis develops into inflammation of the testes, you could be facing sterility. Even if it's a simple fungus, I'd still ask an MD on how long you should wait for it to clear up before attempting sex with the soon-to-be wife.

Evolutionary imperative man, no amount of money is too much to spend on making sure that your junk is in good condition.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:22 AM on October 9, 2007

You're about to get married and your wife is about discover that her husband's penis is extremely scary looking and she might never want to touch it, ever.

Go to a doctor. Like mentioned above, it's probably jock itch but since you are getting married soon, you don't have time to mess around trying to self-diagnois yourself. Suck up your embarassment and realize what's more worriesome for you: a doctor taking a look at your flaky johnson or your wife seeing your flaky johnson on your wedding night.
posted by Stynxno at 7:21 AM on October 9, 2007

Nthing jock itch/fungal infection. Get thee to a Dr. for a proper diagnosis and then get your junk fixed up. Not a big deal it sounds like. Nothing to be embarrassed about either. But you definitely should have this taken care of pre-wedding if you know what I mean.
posted by zackola at 7:25 AM on October 9, 2007

Vinegar is also good for jock itch.
posted by brujita at 9:04 AM on October 9, 2007

Please don't futz around with home remedies. Without being reasonably sure about what you have, you could very well make it worse. This might not be a disaster if you weren't getting married "very soon" and if you had left out that part about "sores or mild bleeding."

The phrase you are looking for is "Hello, dermatologist's office? I'd like to make an appointment as a new patient. I have a rash."

If you can't get an appointment in a reasonable time frame, even the local Doc In The Box will do better than guessing.

Please don't be embarrassed about this. People get rashes and itchy things all the time, and this is a pretty common area for it to happen, too.

You can ask about costs when you make the appointment, but even without insurance, this isn't going to be ridiculously expensive.

Happy wedding/marriage!
posted by sageleaf at 12:05 PM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

A very similar problem happened to me when I started dating the woman who would become my wife. I thought it was frequency of intercourse, but it actually turned out to be something remarkably simple. When I stayed at her house I was taking showers with hotter water than usual. I started adjusting the water to slightly cooler and all was well.

All credit to her who found a similar testimonial in on the net.
posted by jlowen at 7:44 PM on October 9, 2007

Could it be psoriasis? If you want to clear it up before the wedding, I say bite the bullet and go see a doctor. Embarrassing as it might be, you can be sure the doctor has seen before many times what you've got.


a chronic skin disease characterized by dry red patches covered with scales; occurs especially on the scalp and ears and genitalia and the skin over bony prominences
posted by NorthCoastCafe at 4:38 PM on October 12, 2007

IT could be you have a yeast infection. Are you circumcised? Men who aren't are prone to this if they don't keep up enough regular hygeine. Otherwise, if you work out a lot it could cause this.
posted by gmodelo at 10:12 AM on November 26, 2007

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