A male-region fungus among us?
September 7, 2004 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Embarrassing Male Crotch-Related Question [MI, to save those who don't wish to see crotch-related questions]

My crotch....well...basically.....reeks. Not, like, normal sits-in-your-pants-all-day sweat kind of reek, but make-your-eyes-water reek. I can smell it as soon as I take my pants off. I can smell it even after I've toweled off from showering. I mean, I like to feel I'm not an idiot, and that I know how to wash myself properly, but obviously something's wrong. I also have a small patch of skin on my left thigh, right where I "hang" (you know, I "hang" to the left), that sometimes gets bright red, and that seems to be where the stench is mainly located. The patch doesn't itch, isn't painful, or even tender. Just kinda there. And stinky. I've heard that some men put talc or baby powder down there to avoid moistness and irritation, but that just seems excessive to me, and the last thing I need it a cloud of dust in my crotch. Does anyone else have any suggestions/similar experiences?
posted by emptybowl to Health & Fitness (25 answers total)
Yes. Go see your doctor. You may have a skin infection or something. Rather than (understandably) trying to find a way to treat the symptoms, why not try and find out the underlying cause of the symptoms? If your doctor doesn't have an answer for you, then ask him for suggestions and by all means treat the symptoms (although if using a bit of baby powder seems "excessive" to you, I'm not sure what help you're looking for).
posted by biscotti at 8:48 AM on September 7, 2004

The best thing about talc is that it's not very "dusty" in the usual sense, you might want to reconsider that option. I'm not sure where you live, but where I live it's been hot and humid lately which means that the sweat you do produce just doesn't dry out. This causes moistness which, when mixed with even a small amount of somewhat acidic urine can cause what we like to call "crotch rot." Women who wear panthose regularly are no stranger to this problem, those with more voluptuous thighs, especially so. Other things that might contribute: choice of underwear [switch to boxers to help stuff dry out. do you wear all-natural cotton drawers? did you recently change brands?], or maybe new soap [laundry or bathing]? Think about whether you've changed anything in your routine lately and drop by the pharmacists and try some of the solutions outlined in the article I linked to.
posted by jessamyn at 9:28 AM on September 7, 2004

The powder (or some other means of keeping your pals dry) will probably prevent this from advancing quickly, and maybe even kill it. Try to dry it out and then see a doctor.

The fact that there's no irritation is troubling to me. I first suspected jock itch, but you know if you have that by the itching that takes over your life. And it doesn't smell THAT terrible.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:29 AM on September 7, 2004

See a doctor. If you end up going the powder route, use Gold Bond, it makes the boys tingle and feels real nice and cool.
/cheap thrill
posted by sciurus at 9:38 AM on September 7, 2004

i'm sure this is obvious, but you're pulling back the foreskin and cleaning things up nicely with soap + hot water in the shower, right?

the only advice my father ever gave me was to not use deodorant "down there". perhaps it stung? anyways, i'd go see a doctor. i've been with "personal" problems like this, and they don't laugh. at least, not while you're there.
posted by andrew cooke at 9:44 AM on September 7, 2004

Talcum powder and products of that ilk aren't particularly extreme - it's not like you'll have dust coming out your pant legs or anything. I use it in the summer just to make things a bit more comfortable. In a way, your crotch is a giant armpit. Nothing wrong with keeping it dry, etc.

But the foul smell you report does seem a bit unusual. Is it possible that you're more sensitive to smells in general? Everyone gets a little rank from time to time.
posted by aladfar at 9:48 AM on September 7, 2004

It could be the beginnings of a male yeast infection, or an std, or some kind of fungus. Where are the pics? Sheesh. If you're able, exposing the whole kit and caboodle to sunlight might really help.

But. You really need to go to a doctor.
posted by iconomy at 9:57 AM on September 7, 2004

Hmmm...haven't changed anything lately. Same soap as usual, and I've been a boxer wearer for a long time. The foreskin suggestion is....not applicable. I'll try some powder, and I've scheduled a doctor's appointment. (I'm due for a physical anyway) And looking at the pictures in the article you provided, jessamyn, that's definitely not what I have. I don't have any roughness or pustules or anything. It's not rash-esque, more like you dyed a section of skin with Red Kool-Aid. (at least, it looked like that yesterday. Today it looks pretty much back to normal, just stinky.)
posted by emptybowl at 9:59 AM on September 7, 2004

For what it's worth, I recently learned that talc is bad for us.
posted by Songdog at 9:59 AM on September 7, 2004

I had a fungus issue in my groinal region a few years back. It didn't smell or itch at all, it was just red. Sounds exactly like what you're describing, but without the smell. I didn't even know it was an issue until I went to the doc for an unrelated reason.

The prescribed goop -- I don't recall the name of it -- took care of the problem. Just make sure you don't stop using the goop until the entire tube is gone. If you stop when the redness goes away, you run the risk of it coming back.
posted by schoolgirl report at 10:21 AM on September 7, 2004

Sounds like a fungus to me. See your doctor, if only to spare yourself and others from the smell.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 10:29 AM on September 7, 2004

I had this problem (STANK BALLSWEAT and FOUL CROTCH) once. I switched to boxers (instead of snug underwear) and used baby powder for a few days and it went away.

You also want to make sure (of course) that you wear fresh, clean underwear every day. Wearing the same pair twice without washing leads to bacterial buildup.

Do NOT put deodorant in the groinal area - it will make things even worse.
posted by mrbill at 10:42 AM on September 7, 2004

I second the Gold Bond, even once you've fixed this issue. Every day, right out of the shower, keeps you dry and makes you feel like a million bucks. (Well okay, maybe a hundred bucks, but still.)

But yeah, this falls squarely in the "You might want to get that looked at" department.
posted by chicobangs at 10:45 AM on September 7, 2004

I've just recently been reading about using baking soda instead of talc and deoderant (for a talc replacement, you can mix it with some cornstarch).
posted by taz at 11:08 AM on September 7, 2004

Baby powder is corn starch and not talc and a quick splash will sort you out quick smart.
posted by zeoslap at 11:29 AM on September 7, 2004

Johnson baby powder, cool water cologne. Snoop Dogg is like the post-modern Jesus, dispensing wisdom.
posted by geoff. at 12:13 PM on September 7, 2004 [1 favorite]

If you're suffering from a fungal infection (like jock itch, etc), you might want to check the state of your feet. More often than not, putting on your underwear while barefooted is the easiest way to carry bacteria and fungus to your jock area. Deal with athelete's foot or whatever else is going bad down there, but put on your socks before you pull up your drawers.
posted by crunchland at 1:06 PM on September 7, 2004

It's crotch rot, though I'm surprised it doesn't itch. Basically, it's like athlete's foot for your balls. I'm hairy down there and get it every summer because it's so humid here. I've always gotten by with some Tolnoftate (generic-brand athlete's foot creme- it's really just a general-purpose mild antifungal), though I'm liking the Gold Bond suggestion.
posted by mkultra at 1:36 PM on September 7, 2004

"Baby powder is corn starch"

Actually you'll want to avoid any corn starch-based powder because you may end up inadvertently feeding a fungal infection.

The original Gold Bond (in the gold container) is not corn starch-based and is a great choice in this department.
posted by pjhagop at 2:00 PM on September 7, 2004

emptybowl: I would see a doctor , you want to meet an andrologist (which is the world for male sex doctor who usually are males too, if that helps avoiding embarassments) who will determine the cause of the problem ; it could just be that excessive swelling caused skin irritation or some other minor problem. As far as I know IF it's a sexual disease most of them can be cured if taken by time, I wouldn't waste any and take an appointment asap to avoid complications.

It may be a little embarassing, but you don't want any harm done to your penis right ? Better safe then sorry :)
posted by elpapacito at 2:41 PM on September 7, 2004

Doctor. (And from personal experience, while I tried and liked the idea of powdering down there, I found that it made wearing dark pants a real pain--especially after a mid-day restroom break--and that corn starch can turn into "corn starch paste" for the very reasons you used it in the first place. After reading about talc, I just use talcum baby powder for long sits, like plane trips, etc. Otherwise, I just opted to go with the most comfortable shorts and pants I could find, and I've been fine ever since.)
posted by LairBob at 5:14 PM on September 7, 2004

Call me metro or whatever, but when i started working outside in the summer, I took advice from a rather large ex-co-worker: trim it up. I shave the pits every couple weeks and use a sideburn trimmer around the crotch, and it's quite noticeable how much later in the day I start to notice my own funk. Also, ditto on the Johnson's or Gold Bond.

Added bonus to trimming all over 'down there': less likelihood for klingons.
posted by notsnot at 5:23 PM on September 7, 2004

My first suggestion - stop wearing underwear.

"It could be the beginnings of a male yeast infection, or an std, or some kind of fungus." - I think iconomy is on the right track here. But, "yeast infections" are are fungal infections.

Here's a crucial distinction : in a systemic yeast infection (Candida Albicans), your body's Candida yeast - normally present as spores - goes into a fungal stage and migrates through the body.

You could have a mere topical infection, sure - in which case, a topical antibiotic will likely help. I once had a rash on my inner thigh that started to consume my very flesh. Like the fabled "flesh eating" bacteria - a topical anti-fungal cream cleared that up very quickly. But if you're suffering from the former, you're in for long term dietary changes - dramatically less sugar - to confront the problem.

Systemic fungal yeast infections emerge from inside your body, and skin eruptions are only one symptom of the overall pathology .

Be cautioned - the US (and World, it's likely) medical establishments are in fairly deep denial - as far as I can tell - about systemic fungal yeast infections, and the current in-vogue treatment for such complaints involves nuclear strength blasts of antibiotics - a one day course of Cipro usually. But, this treatment has a less than 50% cure rate - according to the current medical literature. Some doctors will prescribe - in asort of iatrogenic insanity - daily courses of antibioitics which can go on for months or years and can incur Liver or Kidney failure.

The underlying problem, however, stems from too much dietary sugar.
posted by troutfishing at 9:12 PM on September 7, 2004

Hmmm...IANAMale, but if troutfishing is right and you do have a yeast infection, take a tip from us girls and eat yogurt with active cultures several times a week. Not sure if it cures/prevents the kind of systemic infection troutfishing's describing, but it sure does wonders for preventing yeast infections in one's lady bits...might work for guys, too.
posted by gokart4xmas at 12:45 AM on September 8, 2004

Snoop Dogg, geoff? Surely you mean Slick Rick (who also recommends Gucci underwear)?
posted by Songdog at 7:47 AM on September 8, 2004

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