Are yeast infections contagious?

Untreated yeast infections may spread to other areas or other people.
Untreated yeast infections may spread to other areas or other people.

Yeast infections are contagious. They can be transmitted through sexual contact. Those with weak immunity have a high risk of the infection. Yeast infections can be vaginal (candidiasis), oral (thrush) or penile.

Mucocutaneous yeast infections (those affecting the body creases where moisture accumulates) may not be contagious.

How is a yeast infection treated?

Yeast infections are treated by medications and maintaining proper personal hygiene. The doctor may prescribe

  • Local pessary: These are antifungal medicinal pills that are inserted inside the vagina. A typical course is 6 to 10 days. These are taken for vaginal yeast infections.
  • Antifungal skin creams, ointments or powders may be used by men for penile infections.
  • A single tablet of antifungal medicine taken by mouth for a severe yeast infection (except if a woman is  pregnant or has diabetes or other diseases where immunity is weak).
  • Probiotics (live lactic acid bacteria) to restore the natural vaginal bacteria.

The doctor may instruct the patient to control their blood sugar levels (if they have diabetes) and maintain a healthy weight and healthy skin hygiene.

If the patient has an oral yeast infection (thrush), the doctor may prescribe antifungal treatments such as

What happens if a yeast infection is not treated?

Untreated skin yeast infections may

  • Spread the infection to other body organs
  • Cause discomfort

Untreated vaginal yeast infections may

  • Cause itching and inflammation of a woman’s private parts
  • Cause bacterial infections from scratching
  • Spread the infection toward the urethra (opening for urine)
  • Increase the risk of premature delivery, miscarriage or premature birth in pregnant women
  • Pass to babies during childbirth
  • Pass to the sexual partner if a woman did not communicate her yeast infection

Untreated oral thrush may spread the infection to other organs in cases of patients with weak immunity. This population includes people with diabetes, cancer and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The yeast may spread throughout the blood to other organs causing complications.

  • Esophageal candidiasis may cause difficulty in eating and swallowing and cause malnutrition.
  • Candida sepsis: This is a condition wherein the candida may infect other organs via the blood.
  • Yeast may cause infections of organs such as the heart and lungs.

How are recurring yeast infections prevented?

  • Blood sugar level control may prevent recurrent yeast infections in those who have diabetes.
  • Keeping a healthy weight may lower the risk of a skin yeast infection.
  • General hygienic rules such as using powders to keep skin dry and wearing loose, breathable cotton clothes must be followed to prevent skin yeast infections.
  • It is best to avoid sex if your partner has a yeast infection to prevent catching the infection.
  • Probiotics can help to keep any type of yeast infection away.
  • In case of a recurrent vaginal yeast infection, a probiotic product may be either swallowed or inserted into the vagina to restore healthy vaginal flora.
  • Eating yoghurt or over-the-counter probiotic pills may help  restore healthy mouth flora in case of a mild mouth yeast infection.
  • Women should avoid douching (showering of the vagina with chemical soaps and water) that may increase the risk of infections.

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Medically Reviewed on 9/16/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference

CDC


WomensHealth.gov


National Organization for Rare Disorders


Mayo Clinic


KidsHealth.org


Cleveland Clinic


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