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Yeast Infection Explained

Updated on April 1, 2016

What is a yeast infection?

Yeast is a type of fungus that normally lives in small numbers on the skin, in the intestinal tract, or the vagina. Yeast does not usually cause any ill effects unless an overgrowth occurs. Yeast itself is usually not the cause of the infection itself, but the result of some weakening of your body's infection fighting defenses. This weakening of your body's defenses along with a favorable environment allows the yeast to grow and multiply resulting in a yeast infection.

Yeast thrives in a warm moist environment. Any areas where the skin is moist and comes together for prolonged periods of time are a potential site for yeast infections. These areas include the mouth, throat, armpits, groin, under the breasts, within skin folds, and on the perineum. Even though these areas are warm and moist, they are usually free of large numbers of yeast fungi as other bacteria compete and limit the growth of yeast.

What causes a yeast infection?

1. Antibiotics (kills the good bacteria which keep yeast from growing. This in turn causes a secondary infection from the yeast.)

2.Diabetes Mellitus may provide an environment that gives yeast a source of fuel to grow on.

3. Disease that requires treatment with corticosteroid drugs such as prednisone can lower the body's immunity to yeast infections.

4. Poor nutrition, lack of sleep and generally being "run down" can cause your immune system to be less effective against infection. People with altered immunity and those who are undergoing chemotherapy are at risk as well.

5. Wearing artificial nails-Fungus infections may grow and flourish between the artificial nail and the real nail, especially if they are not sealed properly or kept sealed with regular professional care.

6. Menstruation, taking of contraceptive pills and pregnancy cause altered hormone levels making it easier for yeast to grow.

What are the symptoms of a yeast infection?

1. Redness, rash and/or swelling of the affected area. May be accompanied by tenderness.

2. Itching and burning, especially on urination.

3. White patches in the mouth, vagina, or skin surfaces.

4. Excoriated (rubbed off) and peeling skin.

5. A mostly odorless thick white creamy or cottage cheese-like drainage.

When should I call the Doctor?

1. If you have symptoms of a yeast infection.

2. If you have abdominal pain.

3. If you have a foul discharge.

4. If there is no improvement in your symptoms after treatment.

oral yeast infection
oral yeast infection
overgrowth of yeast on skin
overgrowth of yeast on skin

How can I avoid a Yeast Infection?

1. Keep skin surfaces that touch clean and dry.

2. Do not wear tight fitting or synthetic fiber clothing.

3. Wear cotton underwear, not nylon.

4. Do not wear tights or pantyhose every day.

5. Always wipe from front to back after using the toilet. This helps to keep organisms that normally live in your colon from entering the urinary tract or vagina.

6. Change out of wet swimsuits or damp clothes as soon as you can.

7. Do not douche or use feminine hygiene spray, deodorant sanitary pads or tampons that may lower the acid balance of the vagina allowing for yeast growth.

8. Avoid perfumed bubble bath.

9. Do not use colored or perfumed toilet paper.

The addition of yogurt to the diet once a day may be helpful. Yogurt contains cultures which are effective in the treatment of yeast infection. Refrigerated only, NOT frozen.

© 2011 Cynthia


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    • xanzacow profile image

      Cynthia 5 years ago from North Myrtle Beach, SC

      Thank you timetraveler!

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 5 years ago from USA

      This was very interesting. I wasn't aware that false nails can bring on yeast infections. Thanks for the nicely presented info. voted up.

    • xanzacow profile image

      Cynthia 5 years ago from North Myrtle Beach, SC

      Yes. Yeast can affect any part of your body. Skin, mouth, lungs, nails, and yes, down below. Thank you so much for reading. I hope it was informative.

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 5 years ago from USA

      I used to think that this was the only kind of yeast infection a woman can get, but that's not so. I had one "elsewhere" but am glad it wasn't whereof you spoke LOL!!

    • xanzacow profile image

      Cynthia 5 years ago from North Myrtle Beach, SC

      Thank you kj. Yes it has been an issue probably since the introduction of antibiotics. We must stay abreast of these things and keep our bodies healthy!

    • kj force profile image

      kjforce 5 years ago from Florida

      xanzacow..very informative and interesting's a shame this subject is not explained when physicans prescribe meds....candida has been a health issue for women we can never learn too much about our bodies....thanks for sharing...

    • xanzacow profile image

      Cynthia 6 years ago from North Myrtle Beach, SC

      Thank you Kittythedreamer!! Much appreciated! :)

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 6 years ago from the Ether

      Always a wonderful thing to explain to women these days. This is one of the many sucky things about being a woman...that and UTIs! I recently wrote a hub on how to prevent UTIs and bladder infections...from experience! Thanks for being honest and providing some useful information here! Voted up and useful!