Yeast Infections or Candidiasis
Yeast Infections or Candidiasis
Our skin is usually colonized with many bacteria and fungi. While the natural balance is intact, no infection or irritation occurs. If for some reason (immune deficiency, medication, warm and moist milieu, etc.) the balance has been disrupted, some of the “good” bugs become enemies and cause infection when the chance of overgrowth is given.
One good example is a yeast infection. The human skin and body is colonized with yeast, especially Candida albicans. A genital yeast infection, also referred to as candidiasis, may be caused by “over cleansing”, use of medications such as antibiotics, or just disrupted PH circumstances.
Candidiasis, or yeast infection, may occur in many areas of the human body, including the mouth, the throat, and ano-genital area.
Genital Candidiasis in Women
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Vaginal yeast infections are a common problem in women. Most common symptom of vaginal candidiasis is itching. Women may also note pain with urination, soreness or irritation, pain with intercourse, or reddened and swollen vulvar and vaginal tissues. There is often little or no vaginal discharge; if present, discharge is typically white and clumpy (curd-like) or thin and watery. Risk factors for developing vaginal candidiasis include use of antibiotics, birth control, diabetes, pregnancy, and a weakened immune system (due to chemotherapy, HIV, or certain medications.
Symptoms of Vaginal Candidiasis
- Itching or irritation of the vulva and around the vaginal opening .
- Pain with urination, vulvar soreness or irritation,
- Pain with intercourse.
- Reddened and swelling of vulva and vagina
- No or white clumpy (curd-like) or watery vaginal discharge.
Cause and Risk Factors of Vaginal Candididasis
Changes in the normal flora of the gastrointestinal tract and vagina allow Candida overgrow and cause vaginal candidiasis. Several risk factors that may increase the chances of developing a vaginal candidiasis include:
- Hormonal contraceptives (e.g, birth control pills, patch, and vaginal ring)
- Contraceptive devices
- Weakened immune system
- Sexual activity
Diagnosis of Vaginal Candididasis
Vaginal candidiasis can be diagnosed with an exam. Do not begin treatment at home before being examined. The common treatment of vaginal candididasis is vaginal cream or tablet. The duration of treatment will depend upon severity of infection. More complicated vaginal candidiasis may be treated with oral fluconazole (Diflucan).
Vaginal candidiasis is usually an easy problem to cure, but 5-8% of women experience a recurrence in the nest several months. Treatment of recurrent vaginal candidiasis usually includes a longer course of treatment for infections, between 7 and 14 days for a topical (cream or suppository) medication or oral fluconazole with a second and third dose 3 and 6 days later.
Vaginal yeast infections are not a sexually transmitted infection, although the infection may rarely be passed from one partner to another. Treatment of a sexual partner is usually not recommended.
Candidiasis in Men
Although rare, but men can contract candidiasis if having sex with an infected female. If infected with yeast, the infection is mostly found on the skin on the outside of a man’s penis. Uncircumcised men are much more often affected than circumcised men. Circumcised men are actually rarely affected by candidiasis as the glans is always exposed to the air which keeps it dry and at a cooler temperature; yeast needs heat and moisture to survive on the skin.
If the infection and inflammation is localized at the head of the penis (Candida balanitis) signs and symptoms may include:
- Spots and red patches on the head of the penis.
- Skin redness around the head of the penis.
- Very itchy and uncomfortable glans penis with irritation and soreness.
- Swelling of the head of the penis.
- Penile discharge* .
- Discomfort or light pain when urinating (dysuria).
- Thick, lumpy discharge under the foreskin.
- Unpleasant odor.
- Pain during sex.
(*If the yeast infection finds its way into the urethra men may show the same symptoms as women do when they have a vaginal yeast infection: discharge from the penis, itching on the inside, extreme discomfort)
The causes for candidiasis in men are almost the same as in women (chronic illnesses like diabetes, HIV, etc., medications such as antibiotics, and hygiene), so is the treatment.
If you suspect a yeast infection and notice any of the following symptoms, please do not hesitate to see your health care professional fro diagnosis and proper treatment.
- A red and painful itchy rash begins to form.
- Small red spots can also develop on the rash.
- The affected skin may start scaling.
- There may be a white or yellow substance (like cottage cheese).
- The skin becomes thick, soft and white.