What is a yeast infection?

The fastest way to get rid of a yeast infection is by seeing your doctor and getting Fluconazole prescription. Over-the-counter Monistat (Miconazole) and prevention can also work.
The fastest way to get rid of a yeast infection is by seeing your doctor and getting Fluconazole prescription. Over-the-counter Monistat (Miconazole) and prevention can also work.

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:

  • Sores
  • Rashes
  • 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.

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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.

Medications

Oral treatment in the form of Fluconazole is available by prescription. However, it may take one week for the complete resolution of symptoms.

The vaginal suppository Monistat and generic versions of this medication (Miconazole) will successfully treat most vaginal yeast infections.

Home care

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

How long does it take to get rid of a yeast infection while pregnant?

Vaginal yeast infections are common during pregnancy. You’re significantly more likely to get one while pregnant due to rising estrogen levels. These hormonal changes cause an environment where the candida yeast can flourish.

You can also get a yeast infection from:

  • Your period
  • Douching or using perfumed vaginal sprays
  • Antibiotics
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Birth control pills

Possible complications of a yeast infection while pregnant

If you have a vaginal yeast infection when you give birth, the baby can catch it. When the baby passes through the birth canal, it comes into contact with all the yeast fungi.

You can usually see symptoms of an oral yeast infection in infants by looking in their mouth. White, pillowy sores can be found on the tongue and inside the cheeks of infants infected with yeast fungi, also known as oral thrush.

This can cause issues, especially if the infant is breastfed. Oral thrush can cause your baby to resist feeding due to pain in the mouth. They can also spread it to the mother, causing extreme discomfort and pain in the nipples and breasts.

While uncomplicated oral thrush in infants is relatively common and easy to treat, it can be difficult to totally eliminate the fungus. That’s because the mother and infant can reinfect each other if one still carries the fungus, even after taking medication.

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Getting rid of a yeast infection while pregnant

You can buy over-the-counter medications to relieve the symptoms of a yeast infection while pregnant. However, you should first confirm with a physician that the symptoms you’re experiencing are in fact due to a yeast infection.

Medication for yeast infections

Most yeast infections can be cured within two weeks with over-the-counter medication. Treating a yeast infection while pregnant can take longer because your medication options are more limited.

Oral medications to treat vaginal yeast infections aren’t recommended when you’re pregnant.

When you’re pregnant, you can safely use cream and ointments containing:

The ointment is applied directly on the affected area.

Home remedies

Eating large amounts of processed sugar has been shown to promote yeast growth. Limit your intake of processed sugar to promote a healthy balance of yeast.

If you’re fighting a yeast infection, taking these precautions will help promote a fast recovery and avoid reinfection.

  • Wear cotton underwear. Candida fungus thrives in damp environments, so it’s important to keep yourself as dry as possible. Cotton is breathable and helps avoid sweating.
  • Don’t use scented soaps or feminine hygiene sprays ‘down there’. Scented products can mess with your vagina’s delicate pH balance.
  • Wipe from front to back. Don’t help bacteria travel to your vagina.
  • Change out of damp clothes right away. Staying in wet swimsuits or gym clothes for too long can promote fungus growth.

Alternative therapies

Yeast infections happen when your bacterial balance is off. Eating foods rich in probiotics such as yogurt can help restore the balance.

You should consult your doctor before introducing new foods to your diet while pregnant.

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Medically Reviewed on 2/28/2022
References
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Vaginal Candidiasis."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Yeast Infection."

Mayo Clinic: "Yeast Infection (vaginal)."

National Cancer Institute: "Yeast Infection."

PennState Student Affairs: "Yeast Infection."

University of Michigan: "Vaginal Yeast Infections."

UCDAVIS: "Yeast Infections (vaginal)."

Birth Injury Help Center: "Pregnancy and Yeast Infections."

CDC: "A Diagnostic Test to Detect Different Vaginal Yeast Infection Types."

CDC: "Vaginal Candidiasis."

Family Doctor: "What is a vaginal yeast infection?"

Intermountain Healthcare: "Preventing Vaginal Yeast Infections With Lifestyle and Diet Changes."

Mayo Clinic: "Yeast infection during pregnancy: Over-the-counter treatment ok?"

The Pharmaceutical Journal: Oral Candidiasis: Causes, types, and treatment.