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Itchy Testicles – Is it a sign of STDs?

It is common to experience a need to itch every now and then, but if you feel the need to scratch all the time it’s probably time to seek some help. Inadvertently, there would be a concern of any possible sexually transmitted diseases (STD), but not all itches are sexually transmitted. – STD Screening in Singapore

Listed below are some of the more common causes of itchy testicles.


  1. Chafing

Chafing is an irritation of the skin caused by repetitive friction. This is typically caused by inappropriately sized clothing and is commonly experienced by guys doing biking or running. It can happen anywhere on the skin but vulnerable areas are the groin, thighs, underarms and even the nipples. Chafing is easy to prevent though, by wearing the right clothes and using some form of barrier cream/ointment like vaseline to protect vulnerable areas.

  1. Jock Itch

Jock Itch, also known as tinea cruris, this is a fairly common condition seen in gentlemen who exercise a lot or are involved in jobs involving heavy physical activity. This creates a warm, moist environment on the scrotum that is ideal for fungal growth. Common symptoms are an itchy and red rash on the scrotum that can be scaly in nature. Treatment is through the use of oral or topical antifungal medications. Jock Itch can be prevented by regular change of clothing after heavy exertion as well as use of antiperspirants.

  1. Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a type of eczema triggered by contact with a particular substance. The skin can become red and cracked with blistering and sometimes can resemble jock itch. Common causes of contact dermatitis are new soaps and detergents, so if the new soap/detergent is causing itchy testicles, it might be a good idea to swab back.

  1. Lichen Simplex Chronicus

This is what happens when you leave an itch too long without seeing a doctor. After prolonged itchy, rubbing and scratching of the skin, the scrotum can become lichenified. Like lichen on the trees, the skin can become thick and scaly with accentuated skin fold lines. This is an extremely pruritic chronic itch, and the treatment is usually the use of a strong steroid cream to thin out the lichenified skin. 

  1. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is an unpleasant skin condition presenting as reddish rashes with silvery scaling over the whole body. It commonly involves the scrotum and it can be itchy as well. There are also other dermatological conditions which may look similar to psoriasis and can involve the scrotum as well. This is why it is important to see a doctor if there is an odd looking rash over the scrotum that does not go away on its own. 

  1. Pubic Lice

Also known as crabs, Pthirus pubis is a very small insect that parasites humans. Pubic Lice are commonly found attached to the hair in the pubic region but can also be found in other coarse hair elsewhere on the body, for example eyebrows or armpits. Other than the adult insects, eggs known as “nits” can also be found attached to the hair. Pubic lice is normally spread through sexual contact. It is however very easily treatable by over the counter anti-louse preparations. 

  1. Scabies

Sarcoptes scabiei are tiny eight legged mites that live within the human skin. Allergic reaction to the mites, eggs and faeces can lead to an intense itching that is worse at night. Symptoms are a pimple like rash over the scrotum that can be very itchy out of proportion to the rash. Scabies is spread through skin to skin contact and hence can be sexually transmitted. It’s treated with an anti-mite topical preparation known as permethrin. 


The astute reader might realise that not a lot of STDs are found on the above list. The truth is that the majority of STDs do not lead to testicular itching but rather other symptoms like ulcers or discharge. If itchy testicles are still a problem, it is still better to seek a doctor for a medical consultation.

Parasitic STIs – Scabies

Scabies are one of the more uncommon STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) present in Singapore. As it is rarely seen in a clinic setting and the signs are often unremarkable, it can be easily missed by both patient and the doctor. So what exactly is scabies? We will talk about it in a little more detail and how it is relevant to you and your sexual health.

Scabies – The hidden itch

Scabies are not an infection, but an infestation of microscopic mites, Sarcoptes scabiei. These tiny eight-legged creatures live within the human skin. After mating, female mites will burrow through the epidermis causing skin damage and lay eggs within the burrows. Larvae, after hatching, will grow and continue the whole lifecycle. 

Signs and Symptoms

These burrowing caused by the mites do not actually cause pain, but the allergic reaction to the mites, faeces and eggs leads to an intense itching that is typically worse at night. The itching starts 3 to 6 weeks after initial infestation. 

The typical physical finding is a extremely itchy pimple-like rash in areas such as:

  • Between fingers
  • Armpits
  • Wrist
  • Elbow
  • Genitalia
  • Waist
  • Buttocks

The back and the head are typically spared, except in very young infants.

Another more serious variant is Norwegian Scabies. This happens in patients with compromised immune systems, for example patients with HIV, lymphoms or long term steroid use. The mites will form deep, scaly rashes which are highly infectious.

How does one get it?

Scabies can be spread through direct and prolonged skin to skin contact, for example between family members or sexual partners. Casual contact is highly unlikely to spread scabies. 

Scabies can also be spread through indirect contact. As the scabies mites can survive up to 36 hours off a host, they can be indirectly transmitted through sharing clothes, bedding, towels with an infected individual. 

To prevent scabies, avoid skin to skin contact with infected individuals and do not share clothes and bedding. Condoms are NOT useful in preventing transmission as scabies spread through direct contact and not through body fluids and secretions.

Treatment options

Thankfully, scabies can be treated. A topical preparation known as Permethrin can be applied as a single dose to the whole skin from scalp to toe. Commonly, a single application is sufficient for eradication of scabies. An antiparasitic agent known as Ivermectin can also be given orally for eradication with good effect. To prevent re-infection, all contaminated clothing and bedding should be thoroughly laundered with hot water.

In conclusion, if you find mysterious pimple-like rashes which are intensely itchy after an exposure, see your doctor for further advice! 

Next read: CRABS STDS – PUBIC LICE

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