We’ll get straight to the point: You need to keep your junk fresh. You need to prevent fungal infections. You need to prevent chafing and itching. You need to keep your balls ventilated, and your hair trimmed.
But it can mean far more than just showering, too. There are some things soap can’t fix, but that can be solved with other preventative measures. Your testicles stay tucked inside a dark, damp chamber all day. It can be a prime breeding ground for fungus, yeast, and more. For that, you need a lineup of powders, creams, soaps, and even the right underwear fabric to minimize the threat.
We spoke with dermatologist James Collyer, M.D. about the topic. He’s the medical director at Modern Dermatology in Seattle, specializing in men’s skincare concerns. Here are Dr. Collyer’s suggestions for keeping everything clean, fresh, smooth, and above all, healthy.
Wear the right underwear
Cotton seems like the obvious fabric choice, but Dr. Collyer says it might magnify any already persistent perspiration problems. "Cotton is not great for ventilation,” he points out. "Though, boxer briefs and boxers tend to be better than briefs for ventilation." So, avoid briefs if you insist on cotton.
If you want the best sweat-wicking, anti-microbial fabric, then Dr. Collyer suggests microfiber. “It tends to breathe well, and any mesh areas in the groin will keep air moving through.” In other words, no accumulation of moisture, and it’s an unfavorable environment for bacteria that's favorable for you.
Consider starting the day with powder
A moisture-absorbing powder will keep your nether region dry throughout the day, thus preventing the sweat accumulation that leads to infections, odor, and chafing.And you’ve got two main choices: talcum or starch-based. “Talcum-based products tend to work longer against perspiration than cornstarch-based products,” Dr. Collyer says. He suggests finding a powder with antifungal properties, too.
And, should you need it, have an antifungal cream at the ready
“Jock itch is caused by yeast and fungus,” Dr. Collyer says. It grows in the damp, poorly ventilated crotch area. “You need an antifungal cream to kill this infection,” Dr. Collyer says. Apply the cream once or twice daily for one to two weeks, until any sour smells and itching resolve.
Never let sweat linger
This is obvious, but still necessary: “Always shower after workouts,” Dr. Collyer says. “Don’t sit in sweaty clothing, and always wear clean underwear.” Lots of infections are caused by the bacteria nesting inside your underwear or gym shorts, and you should minimize the time they spend on your body, since the bacteria can multiply and migrate quickly.
Wash with moisturizing bar soap
Dr. Collyer says to avoid exfoliators, scrub brushes, and loofahs when showering, because they can irritate the skin—and the testicle skin is sensitive. “Use a standard, nourishing bar soap," he says. Find a product that actively moisturises while also killing germs.
And keep everything trim … but not too trim
There are hygienic benefits to trimming your balls. “Hair can harbor odor and some different forms of bacteria,” Dr. Collyer says. “However, pubic hair also helps decrease friction,” so you should leave some hair, even if you’re going to trim it shorter. Leave anything from a centimeter to an inch if you want a trim-but-not-too-trim result. Don’t use anything besides an electric trimmer on your junk, and avoid putting it right on the skin, since it’s easy to get nicks and to experience irritation on the thin skin.