- Who Gets It?
- Complications and Side Effects
What is a yeast infection?
Yeast infections are more common than you might think. Yeast is a fungus that is normally found on your skin and digestive system. If you are a woman, you will also find yeast in your vaginal area. Yeast grows normally in those body parts, but it can develop into an infection if it grows out of control. It may also occur on your penis or scrotum if you are male, but it is not as common.
Types of yeast infection
A yeast infection is a condition that occurs when too much yeast grows in certain areas of your body, causing an infection called candidiasis. This condition may cause symptoms that greatly affect your quality of life, including complications leading to other medical conditions. In some cases, a yeast infection may spread from one area of your body to another.
Yeast infections may affect different parts of your body in different ways:
- Thrush: This is a type of yeast infection that affects the mouth and throat. You may notice white patches in your mouth, a loss of taste, or pain while eating or swallowing.
- Vaginal yeast infection: As the name suggests, vaginal yeast infections affect the vagina. These yeast infections cause itching and discomfort and may bring about complications like vaginitis.
- Yeast infections of the skin: This type of yeast infection affects the skin and may cause your skin to itch and develop a rash.
- Invasive yeast infection: This is a serious infection of the bloodstream that can impact many major organs and may develop into a life-threatening condition.
Symptoms of a yeast infection
Depending on where your yeast infection is based, the symptoms may include the following:
- White patches in your mouth
- Pain when swallowing food
- Shiny, white areas on your penis
- Irritation and itching of the vagina
- A burning feeling when urinating or during sex
- Swelling and redness of the vulva
- Thick, white, and odorless vaginal discharge which is commonly described as looking like cottage cheese
- Vaginal discharge that appears watery
Causes of a yeast infection
Yeast infections are usually caused by yeast overgrowth in the parts of the body where it is normally found. Infections have a variety of causes, including:
Who can get a yeast infection?
Some people are more likely to get a yeast infection than others, including those who:
Diagnosing a yeast infection
If you are seeking treatment for a vaginal yeast infection, your doctor will first complete a vaginal exam to ensure proper diagnosis. They may take a sample of vaginal discharge for examination. You should always be sure to get a doctor’s opinion when experiencing vaginal discomfort because at-home diagnoses are often faulty.
Treatments for a yeast infection
After you have been diagnosed, your doctor may prescribe medication to get rid of the yeast infection. The medications used to treat yeast infections are antifungals either applied topically as a cream, taken orally as a pill, or used as suppositories placed in the vagina.
Oral treatment in the form of Fluconazole is available by prescription. However, it may take one week for the complete resolution of symptoms.
There are several ways you can prevent a vaginal yeast infection or reinfection. These include:
- Keeping the vaginal area clean and dry
- Avoiding the use of harsh soap and perfumed feminine hygiene products
- Not douching
- Wearing loose-fitting clothes and avoiding pantyhose
- Wearing underwear made of cotton
- Wiping from the front to the back after using the toilet
Complications and side effects of a yeast infection
If your yeast infection remains untreated for a long time it could develop into complications. Here are some signs that may show you are developing a complication:
- Symptoms like redness, swelling, and itching become so severe that it causes tears or sores
- A recurrence of a yeast infection four or more times in one year
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What Is the Main Cause of a Yeast Infection?Yeast infections are mainly caused by yeast-like fungus named Candida or Monilia. Yeast infections may affect the skin, mouth or vagina. Your doctor will use different methods of testing yeast infections depending on the area of your infection or symptoms.
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Vaginal Yeast Infection in Women
Vaginal yeast infections in women are caused by an organism called Candida albicans. Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include vaginal pain with urination, vaginal discharge, odor, and itching.
Treatment is generally OTC medications. A man can contract a yeast infection from his female sexual partner. Symptoms of a yeast infection in men include penile itching. Treatment is with oral or topical medication.
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Yeast Infection vs. Diaper Rash in Infants, Toddlers, and ChildrenDiaper rash in infants, babies, toddlers, and children is caused by Candida, the most common type of fungus. Signs and symptoms of diaper rash is red, elevated skin that may be visible under and in the creases of the skin, groin, or anus. Yeast diaper rash is not painful. Treatments for diaper rash include antibiotic creams, lotions, natural home remedies, over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, and oral antibiotics.
Yeast infections in infants, babies, toddlers, and children can cause diaper rash, thrush. Signs and symptoms of thrush include thick, white lacy patches on top of a red base can form on the tongue, palate, or elsewhere inside the palate. Treatment for yeast infections caused by Candida fungi are similar to the treatments for diaper rash.
If Candida gets into the blood stream of an individual they may get sick with or without a fever. If the Candida infection spreads throughout the body up to 45% of people may die. Even with common mouth thrush can cause critical illness and may be more resistant to normal treatment.
Yeast Infection vs. Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV) both cause vaginal discharge. Yeast infection discharge is thick, white, and had a cottage cheese consistency. BV discharge is whitish-gray and is thinner. Vaginal odor, irritation, and pain may also be present. Treatment of yeast infections includes over-the-counter and prescription antifungals. BV treatment involves antibiotics.
Yeast Infection vs. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)Candida albicans typically causes vaginal yeast infections. Bacterial infections typically cause urinary tract infections (UTIs). Thick white cottage-cheese like vaginal discharge characterizes vaginal yeast infections. Painful, frequent urination characterize urinary tract infections. Antifungal medications treat yeast infections while prescription antibiotics treat UTIs.
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