A yeast infection is a condition caused by the overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans. It is also called candidiasis. The yeast may infect the vagina, mouth, or other moist areas on the skin.
It’s normal to have some yeast in the rectal and vaginal areas. Yeast causes trouble only when there are too many yeast organisms. Sometimes the yeast grows (multiplies) quickly and causes an infection.
Several things may cause an overgrowth of yeast.
A yeast infection is usually not spread by sexual intercourse.
In women, symptoms may include:
Some women have no symptoms.
In men, the yeast can cause swelling and redness on the penis and foreskin. Yeast infections of the penis are more common when the penis is uncircumcised.
If the mouth is infected, the lining of the mouth is often red and sore. Sometimes there are white spots and patches on the tongue and cheek lining. This is called thrush. The yeast can also cause creamy yellow, raised sores on the mouth.
Yeast infection of the skin causes an itchy red rash. Often the rash is a red patch. Sometimes there are small red bumps around the red area. It is most common in areas that stay warm and moist, like under the breasts or in the groin.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and examine you. The diagnosis may be clear from your symptoms and your exam. Your provider may collect samples of cells from places where you are having symptoms, such as the mouth, vagina, or skin. Your provider can use a microscope to look for yeast in the cell samples.
Medicines are available as:
A vaginal suppository is a cream or tablet that is pushed up into the vagina each evening just before you go to bed. You will do this for a certain number of nights, depending on the type of suppository. Your body temperature will melt the suppository, so you may want to wear a sanitary pad to protect your clothing. Keep using the suppositories even if you have a menstrual period during this time. Sometimes your provider may recommend putting a vaginal yeast cream on the area around the outside of the vagina if the area is red, swollen, and itchy.
Some medicines you can buy without a prescription, such as miconazole and clotrimazole. You should see your healthcare provider before you use any nonprescription products, especially if:
If you have tried nonprescription suppositories or cream and they have not worked for you, your provider may prescribe a medicine that is taken by mouth.
Take the medicine exactly as prescribed. If you do not think it is helping, call your healthcare provider. Do not increase how much you take or how often you take it without talking to your healthcare provider first.
Treatment for yeast infections will not help or cure sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomonas.
With proper treatment, the infection usually clears up in a few days to a week.
If you have a vaginal yeast infection, follow these guidelines:
If you have been diagnosed before with a yeast infection and your symptoms are the same, try using a nonprescription medicine the next time you have a yeast infection. If your symptoms do not get better, see your healthcare provider.
See your healthcare provider promptly if:
To prevent yeast infection, follow these guidelines: