Itchy testicles, also known as itchy balls, can be uncomfortable and very tempting to scratch.
In most cases, scratching can make the itch worse.
There are a number of potential causes of itchy testicles. Hence, it is important to know what is causing the itch in order to treat the underlying reason for it in the best way.
Seven causes of itchy balls
Though many causes of itchy balls are benign and easy to treat, there are some more serious conditions that may be responsible.
Seven of the most common causes include:
1. Jock itch
Jock itch, also known as tinea cruris, is one of the most common causes of itchy balls.
Jock itch is a fungal infection that occurs in damp areas of the body, often near or in folds of skin. Jock itch can appear on the feet or genitals.
Jock itch often presents as a reddish rash. However, the exact appearance depends on the type of fungus that is causing the infection.
Yeast is a common type of fungal infection that causes red, itchy rashes. When a person has a yeast infection on their genitals, they may experience an intensely itchy rash, moist skin, and white-colored discharge near the folds and edge. Other yeast infections may appear dry and flaky.
Intertrigo is an inflammatory response to either a bacterial or fungal infection. The resulting rash is often red, raw, and stings.
The inflammation most commonly occurs near folds in the skin and moist areas of the body. The scrotum contains many folds and is a moist environment, which makes it an ideal area for bacteria or fungus to grow.
Chafing occurs when constant, prolonged rubbing occurs on an area of skin. This friction can occur during physical activities, such as running or biking.
On these occasions, the friction between the legs leaves tiny cracks and inflammation. The resulting rash is often itchy and uncomfortable for the individual.
4. Contact dermatitis
Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction. It is most likely to occur when the skin comes into contact with a new substance, including new body or hair wash, new washing detergent, or a new fabric.
Contact dermatitis results in a red, itchy rash that may ooze a white or yellow liquid. The same rash will likely occur in other areas of the body, as well as on the testicles. The thinner skin of the ball sack makes it feel particularly itchy and uncomfortable.
5. Crabs or pubic lice
Crabs or pubic lice may also cause itchy balls. Pubic lice cause tiny bites that itch and are uncomfortable.
Some people notice lice eggs growing near the roots of their pubic hairs. Others might see the grayish lice, crawling around on their ball sack or around their pubic hair.
Crabs may be spread during sexual activity with an infected partner.
6. Genital warts
Genital warts are associated with the human papillomavirus (HPV), and although they can be removed, they may reappear in the future, as the virus is not curable.
Genital warts can be itchy, but generally, they just resemble small, raised bumps.
Herpes is an STI that causes an itchy rash to appear on the skin. After about a day, the rash turns into one or more blisters that burn.
These herpes blisters may eventually burst, leading to painful sores.
Preventing itchy balls requires different precautionary measures depending on the exact cause.
For bacterial or fungal infections, a person should keep the balls and genital area clean and dry. A person should consider wearing looser clothing on hot days or during exercise to help the area remain as dry as possible.
In cases of allergic reactions, a person should keep a record of known allergens. When something causes the balls or another area of the body to itch, that substance should be avoided.
If chafing is the cause, a person can use moisturizers or lubricants to help prevent this rubbing irritation. Moisturizers may also stop itching.
Some STIs can be prevented by a person using proper protection during sexual activity. It is also a good idea to know the sexual history of a partner and find out if they have an STI that can be spread during intercourse.
When to see a doctor
Itchy testicles may not seem very concerning at first. In some cases, a person may know right away what the cause is, and they may not need to seek medical attention.
When a rash appears or when itching is persistent and intense, a person should have a doctor rule out certain causes and determine the right treatment. Also, a doctor should examine any rash that changes or starts to ooze.
Anyone who suspects they have pubic lice should visit their doctor to appropriate treatment to kill the lice and their eggs.
Similarly to prevention, treatment of itchy balls depends largely on the cause of the irritation. Some common treatments include the following:
- antifungal creams
- medicated lotions and shampoos
- moisturizers and lubricants
- medication for STIs
- avoiding allergens
Antifungal or antibiotic creams that treat jock itch and other bacterial or fungal infections are a typical over-the-counter treatment. A doctor may also give someone a prescription cream to help treat the infection.
Special lotions and shampoo are prescribed to treat pubic lice. These medicated products contain ingredients that kill the lice and their eggs.
Moisturizers and lubricants are used to treat itching and rashes caused from chafing. The products help both to prevent and treat a rash.
Medication may be prescribed to help reduce outbreaks of an STI. In the case of genital warts, a doctor may burn them off with liquid nitrogen.
Avoiding allergens that prompted the rash is the first response to itchy balls caused in this way. The allergic reaction should clear up in about a week. Otherwise, a doctor may prescribe a cream to help recovery.