Is a Yeast Infection Contagious?

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Vaginal Itching Causes

Vaginal itching is the hallmark of yeast infections and other vaginal infections (including sexually transmitted diseases [STDs]); however, vaginal itching also can be caused by decreased estrogen levels in women during menopause, and due to chemical irritants that may be found in:

  • detergents or soaps,
  • douches and vaginal creams,
  • toilet paper,
  • bath products,
  • feminine hygiene products, and
  • vaginal contraceptive products.

What are yeast?

Yeast are microscopic fungi consisting of oval cells that reproduce by forming buds. There are many types of yeast. Some yeast types are important in baking and brewing (baker's yeast, brewer's yeast). Thus, most yeast are harmless to humans. However, Candida albicans, or Candida, is a yeast that can infect humans and cause illness. Most commonly, yeast can cause infection of skin and mucous membranes. Such infections are called mucocutaneous candidiasis. They occur mainly in warm, moist areas of the body where the skin is often folded together (groin, armpits, underneath the breasts and occasionally, fingernails). Candida infections are the major cause of diaper rash in children.

Candida also can infect:

  • the mouth (oral thrush),
  • the vagina (yeast vaginitis), and
  • infect or inflame of the male head of the penis and/or the foreskin (balanitis).

Is a yeast infection contagious?

Most yeast infections are not contagious. They usually occur when conditions on the skin, mouth (mucosal surface), vagina and penis/foreskin develop extra moisture and warmth, often associated with a suppressed immune system. It is in these situations where Candida can ideally grow and multiply. Infrequently, the yeast infection can be transferred between men and women during sex. However, since most yeast infections are not transferred from person to person, a yeast infection in the vagina or penis/foreskin is not considered to be a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/2/2016

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