Yeast Infection - All you need to know

Last updated date: 12-Jul-2022


20 mins read

Yeast infection definition

Yeast infection can also be referred to as candidiasis. It's a widespread infection that occurs due to Candida Albicans yeast, a form of fungus. Yeast infections are common in the warm and moist areas of the body, including the mouth, gut, vagina, throat, and the wet parts of the skin.

Candida does not usually cause any problems and it is supposed to live inside the body. On the other hand, the body is actively working to balance the fungi. If it tilts in one direction or the other, you can get ill. When Candida gets out of control, you may experience a number of problems. Thrush occurs due to an abundance of fungi in the mouth. If it forms in the vagina, then it is called a vaginal yeast infection.  

In immunocompromised people, candidiasis is more frequent as a secondary infection. Candidatosis, moniliasis, and thrush are synonyms for candidiasis. These organisms can be found in the mouth cavity, gastrointestinal system, vaginal penis, and other regions of the body.

They only become pathogenic when the conditions are right. It can affect the oral cavity, vaginal area, penis, and other body areas. Thrush is the name for a kind of candidiasis that affects the mouth.Oral candidiasis can be pseudomembranous, erythematous, and chronic hyperplastic candidiasis.

In chronically unwell individuals and newborns, it is common. It most typically manifests as white, soft, slightly raised plaques on the tongue and oral mucosa. Plaques look like curd and are made up of tangled masses of fungal hyphae, desquamated epithelium, necrotic debris, keratin, leucocyte, fibrin, and bacteria. When the white plaque is removed, it leaves an erythematous region.

Antibiotic sore mouth is another name for erythematous candidiasis. It happens after using broad-spectrum antibiotics or corticosteroids. The lesions appear as persistently painful erythematous patches on the tongue, as well as central papillary atrophy. When the palate is implicated and erythema occurs as a result of contact with the tongue, it is referred to as a kissing lesion.

Candidaal leukoplakia, also known as chronic hyperplastic candidiasis, is characterized by hard white persistent plaques on the lips, tongue, and buccal mucosa. These plaques might be uniform or nodular, and they can last for years. It has the potential to be precancerous.


Epidemiology of Yeast infection 

Candidiasis is more common among the elderly and children. Thrush affects roughly 37% of newly born newborns in the United States during their first few months of life. Oral candidiasis is more common in children who use inhaled steroids. It is quite frequent among pregnant women. Thrush might be an early sign of HIV infection. Thrush is found worldwide and is more common in those that are malnourished. Males and females are both affected by thrush.


How Does Yeast Infection Occur?

Yeast infections can occur due to a number of reasons. As a result of hormone fluctuation, some women develop them during their menstrual period or when pregnant. Some birth control pills can also raise the chances of developing a yeast infection. 

Candida (yeast) is a form of fungus that can survive almost anywhere. It is normally present in the body; however, the immune system prevents it from spreading out of reach. Infection thus occurs as much of the yeast multiplies inside the vagina.

A yeast infection can occur due to something that disrupts the natural balance between the yeast and bacteria in the vagina. Antibiotics used to treat a dangerous bacterial infection, for example, can also destroy lactobacillus bacteria. This is a good bacterium found in the vagina that maintains yeast at bay. 

Yeast infections can be exacerbated by conditions that impair the immune system, including sexually transmitted diseases. The females with diabetes who do not have their blood sugar under control are also at great risk. This is because increased sugar levels stimulate the growth of yeast. 

Yeast infections can sometimes occur on the scrotums and penises as well, although they are less frequent. They can cause inflammation and redness around the penis or scrotum. 

Typically, yeast infections are not a sexually transmitted disease. They are not infectious and cannot be transferred from one person to another during intercourse. However, sexual intercourse can occasionally result in yeast infections. This is because the body chemistry can respond negatively to someone else’s natural genital yeast or bacteria, causing the yeast to develop.


Risk Factors of Yeast Infection 

The following factors can increase your chances of contracting a yeast infection;

Use of antibiotics: Yeast infections are widespread in frequent antibiotic female users. Broad-spectrum antibiotics that destroy a wide variety of bacteria often kill beneficial bacteria in your vagina, resulting in yeast overgrowth.

Risk Factors of Yeast Infection

High estrogen levels: In most cases, yeast infections are more prevalent in women who have a higher level of estrogen. This includes pregnant mothers or women who take high-dose estrogen birth control drugs or estrogen hormonal treatment.

Uncontrolled diabetes: Most women who have poorly regulated blood sugar are more likely to get yeast infections, unlike women who have well-controlled blood sugar. 

Immune system dysfunction: Females, who have a weakened immune system, including that from corticosteroid injection and HIV infection, are most likely to develop yeast infections.


Categories of Yeast Infections 

Thrush (Oropharyngeal Candidiasis):

Thrush is an infection that occurs if Candida yeast spreads in the throat and mouth. It is more frequent among the elderly, newborns, and those with compromised immune systems. 

Oral candidiasis is a fungus that affects the oral mucosa and is one of the most frequent fungal infections. These sores are caused by the yeast Candida albicans. Candida albicans is a common component of normal oral microbiota, with 30 to 50 percent of persons carrying the fungus. With the patient's age, the rate of carriage increases. Candida albicans is collected from the lips of 60% of dentate patients over the age of 60.

Furthermore, adults are more likely to get thrush if they; 

  • Are undergoing cancer treatment 
  • Are taking medications such as corticosteroids or wide-spectrum antibiotics 
  • Have diabetes 
  • Are wearing dentures 

Thrush might not trigger any symptoms during the early stages. However, as the infection aggravates, you may experience one or more of the following signs and symptoms;  

  • Bumps that are white or yellow around the inner tongue, cheeks, lips, tonsils, or gums
  • In case the yeast infection bumps are scraped, you might have some bleeding
  • Burning and sore sensation in the mouth
  • Cotton-like feeling in the mouth 
  • Cracked and dry skin around corners of the mouth 
  • Trouble swallowing 
  • Having bad taste in the mouth 
  • Taste loss

Thrush may also affect the esophagus in certain cases, although this is rare. A similar fungus associated with oral thrush may as well cause yeast infections in another part of the body. 


Yeast infection is contagious to individuals who are at a higher risk. This includes people with an undermined body immune system or those using certain drugs. It is rare for the infection to be passed on by kissing or other intimate encounters in healthy individuals. Thrush is not often infectious in most situations, but it can still be spread.

If you are concerned about catching thrush from a person with the infection, you should refrain from contacting their saliva. When you are in close proximity to an individual with a thrush,  it’s advisable to wash your hands as frequently as possible.  

  • Difference between "Oral yeast infection” and “Streptococcal" infection.

The bacterial infection strep throat causes throat soreness and inflammation. Oral candidiasis, on the other hand, is an opportunistic infection of the oral cavity that is frequently co-infected with staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria.

Canker sores are painful sores that develop on the interior of the mouth. Canker sores are caused by stress, minor injuries to the interior of the mouth, acidic fruits and vegetables, and hot spicy meals.


Genital yeast infection or genital candidiasis:

Genital yeast infection

Approximately 3 out of every four adult females will develop a yeast infection at any point in their lives. This happens if there is so much yeast growing within the vagina. Genital yeast infections may occur in men as well, but they are much less frequent. 

A yeast infection usually occurs as the vaginal balance shifts. Diabetes, pregnancy, the use of certain medications, spermicides, lubricants, or a compromised immune system may all contribute to this. The infection may sometimes be spread from one person to another during intercourse. 

A vaginal or genital yeast infection may be associated with multiple signs and symptoms. Among these signs are; 

  • Itching sensation around the vaginal and vulvar areas. 
  • The constancy of cottage cheese in a thick and white vaginal discharge.
  • Swelling of the vulva and vagina. 
  • Small cracks and tiny cuts in the skin around the vulva due to the friable skin.
  • Yeast infection burning sensation, especially when urinating
  • Pain during intercourse may be associated with vaginal yeast infection in certain cases.


Invasive candidiasis:

Candida yeast can spread to the heart, eyes, blood, bones, and brain if it reaches the bloodstream. This can happen via medical instruments or devices, resulting in a severe fatal infection. 

This usually occurs in patients who have either been admitted to a hospital or who live in a health care institution, like a nursing home. You are more likely to have invasive candidiasis, especially if you have a compromised immune system, diabetes, kidney disease, or are taking antibiotics.

Fever and chills are among the signs and symptoms of invasive candidiasis. While a person with this infection is likely to get ill with another disease, it may be difficult to diagnose. 


Diaper rash caused by yeast infection:

Diaper rashes typically occur due to leaving a damp or soiled diaper on the baby for an extended period. When the child’s skin gets irritated, infection becomes more probable. In case the diaper rash persists, examine their bum and check if it is sensitive and red. Also, see if there is an elevated red border on the sores. If this is the case, have the pediatrician test for candidiasis. 

Overall, the best way to avoid candidiasis and diaper rash is to keep the bottom of the child clean and dry at all times.


Yeast Infection symptoms

Intense itching and irritation in the vagina and vulva, a burning feeling with urination that can be mistaken for a urinary tract infection, vaginal discomfort or pain, a dry erythematous rash, and a thick white cottage cheese-like discharge are all symptoms of vulvovaginitis.

Candida can also cause thrush, which is characterized by a non-scrapable white or yellow rash on the tongue and mucous membranes of the mouth, as well as redness and pain with cracking around the corners of the mouth. During it expands into the oral pharynx, it produces discomfort when swallowing. Infants, the elderly, and people with a weakened immune system are all susceptible. Fever, chills, hypotension, and disorientation are all symptoms of systemic candidemia.

Candida infection of the larynx is an uncommon occurrence. Females are the ones that are affected the most. They frequently express dysphoria. It is strongly linked to gastric reflux disease or a history of using inhaled corticosteroids. The presence of leukoplastic lesions might impair the glottis.


Yeast Infection Diagnosis 

To effectively diagnose a yeast infection, the gynecologist or medical provider may; 

  • Inquire about your general medical history. This usually involves obtaining the necessary information regarding the previous yeast infections and any STIs. 
  • Conducting a pelvic examination. During diagnosis, the physician will assess the external genital areas for any yeast infection signs. After that, he or she can insert a device known as a speculum inside the vagina for cervix and vaginal examination. The cervix is the lower and narrow region of the uterus. 
  • Testing the vaginal secretions. If necessary, the doctor can obtain a sample of the vaginal secretion fluid to analyze the fungus types, further triggering the infection. Determining the types of fungus enables the physician to prescribe appropriate treatment forms for recurring yeast infections. 


Yeast Infection Treatment 

Yeast infection treatment usually depends on the type and nature of the infection, whether it’s complex or not complicated. 

For the less complicated yeast infection, treatment involves two approaches, including oral therapy and natural vaginal treatment. A short course of vaginal therapy is usually appropriate for addressing non-complex yeast infection. 

Alternative medicine for yeast infection or yeast infection treatment over-the-counter drugs include butoconazole (Gynazole-1), clotrimazole (Gyne-Lotrimin), miconazole (Monistat 3), and terconazole (Terazol 3). In addition, Clotrimazole, Monistat 3, and terciflunomide are among others that can be purchased online.

The effectiveness of oral and topical therapies is similar, although oral drugs are more costly. Fluconazole should not be prescribed during the first trimester of pregnancy. Fluconazole is taken on days 1, 4, and 7 for recurrent vaginal candida infections, and thereafter monthly for six months.

Oral thrush can be treated similarly, with oral lozenges as a substitute dosing form. Oral or intravenous antifungal medicines, such as caspofungin, fluconazole, and amphotericin B, are used to treat systemic candidiasis. 

In the event of denture stomatitis, the patient should stop using their denture for at least two weeks and use antifungal medicine topically. The loss of vertical dimension causes angular cheilitis. As a result, when the infection has subsided, new denture prosthesis with suitable vertical dimensions must be fabricated. Probiotics can be used as an adjuvant in the treatment of oral candidiasis.


Complex yeast infection:

Treatment for a complex yeast infection will require long-term vaginal treatment or multi-dose oral formulas. Medication for maintenance may be advised. Such drugs are used on a daily basis to keep the condition from recurring. 

Long-term vaginal therapy consists of 7 to 14 days of comprehensive treatment using tablets, a vaginal cream, yeast infection suppository, or ointment. Rather than direct vaginal treatment, two or three oral fluconazole doses can be prescribed at times. When symptoms are serious, the physician can recommend topical steroids for a few days to help relieve symptoms until the antifungal treatment works effectively. 

Before taking antifungals, make sure a yeast infection causes the signs. This is because the overuse of antifungals may increase the likelihood of yeast resistance. This means that the drugs can no longer function in the body as required in the future.

When maintenance prescriptions are needed, they should start after one of the above forms of treatment has been completed. That may consist of weekly oral fluconazole therapy for six months or weekly vaginal clotrimazole treatment. 

In case your sexual partner is showing yeast infection symptoms, they should get treatment as well. In such a case, using a condom is often advised.


Preventing Yeast Infections

Although there is no sure-fire way to avoid a Candida infection, some behaviors will reduce the chance of contracting a vaginal yeast infection. In most cases, women who are at risk are urged to: 

  • Refrain from douching 
  • Avoid using feminine deodorant, tampons, or deodorant pads 
  • Put on underwear made with cotton or other natural fibers 
  • Wear slightly loose and fitting trousers and skirts 
  • Clean the underwear under extreme temperatures
  • Refrain from wearing tight underwear or pantyhose
  • Consume a balanced, diverse diet 
  • Change wet clothes, such as swimming suits, as soon as possible
  • Avoid hot baths and hot tubs if possible.

Medical providers can recommend probiotics, either oral or intravaginal, for a woman with more than three infections per year. Also, if you notice or suspect any yeast infection symptoms and signs, talk with the physician immediately regarding proper diagnosis. 


Differential Diagnosis

Pustular psoriasis, subcorneal pustulosis, and acute generalized subcorneal pustulosis are all disorders that can cause spongiform postulation. To rule out a fungal etiology in psoriasis, certain stains should be applied.

Impetigo has spongiform postulation as well. Gram stain can be used to reveal bacterial colonies in impetigo, although GMS and PAS stains will not stain fungal forms.

Tinea cruris and corporis are both known for their spongiform postulation. Without the developing yeasts of candida, special stains reveal septate hyphae. It might be difficult to tell the difference at times. Candida infiltrates the keratinized epithelium, whereas dermatophytosis mostly affects the stratum corneum.

It is difficult for an otolaryngologist to make a proper diagnosis of laryngeal candidiasis, and a high degree of suspicion is required. Patients with predisposed characteristics who present with suspected lesions should have this disorder included to their differential diagnosis.



Although the most frequent Candida infections are localized, vaginal and skin infections are also common. As a result, antifungal medicines can be used to treat them, resulting in total recovery and great prognosis and results. A Candida infection that goes untreated might spread to other organs and cause a systemic illness.

The degree and location of the Candida infection, the general health of the affected person, and the timing of diagnosis and treatment all have a role in the long-term prognosis of systemic candidiasis. 

Almost a third of patients with candidemia develop septic shock as a result of host characteristics including age and infection source, rather than intrinsic virulence features of organisms. 


Complications of Yeast Infections 

You are likely to experience complications of yeast infection in case you have the following; 

  • Extreme signs and symptoms, including widespread redness, itching, and swelling that causes cracks, tears, and sores. 
  • Experience about four or even more yeast infections in one year 
  • An infection that occurs due to less common forms of fungus. 
  • Pregnant 
  • A compromised body immune system due to particular medications or health conditions like HIV infection 
  • Uncontrolled diabetes 


Is a Yeast Infection Contagious?

While yeast infections are not classified as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), they are still contagious. A yeast infection may be transmitted through oral and vaginal sex. Also, yeast infection spread through sex toys or kissing someone who has oral thrush.

The child may get a fungal diaper rash during delivery in case the mother has a vaginal yeast infection while giving birth. Also, if you have Candida overgrowth around the breast region, you could transmit the disease to the child's mouth while breastfeeding.

Although a yeast infection may be spread from one person to another, it is not infectious in the same manner that other disorders are. Therefore, you won't develop the infection through the air or from sharing a shower with someone who has it. 


Yeast Infection in Men

Yeast Infection in Men

Yeast infections in men can develop and affect the penis. When this happens, the condition is referred to as the penile yeast infection. Candida is found in all bodies, not only in female bodies. A yeast infection may result from an overgrowth of this fungus. Due to moisture and the skin folds, the groin area is particularly vulnerable to Candida overgrowth.


Yeast Infection in Women 

Yeast infections in women are highly prevalent. According to research, three out of four women are likely to have more than 2 vaginal yeast infections throughout their life. Despite their widespread occurrence, it's essential to treat vaginal yeast infections as soon as possible. You will not only be able to relieve unpleasant symptoms, but you will also be able to minimize the possibility of the disease spreading in the body.


Yeast Infection in Babies 

Yeast infections are usually linked to vaginal infections, but they may also affect babies. Diaper rash is the most widespread yeast infection in babies. Nonetheless, not all diaper rashes are caused by yeast overgrowth.

At times, the skin of your baby is excessively red and contains spots around the diaper or the groin region even after applying diaper rash cream. With this, you might be able to determine if the disorder is more than a common diaper rash. In other cases, yeast infection may occur in other skin folds, including under the armpits. 

To address yeast infections on the skin, the baby's pediatrician will most likely recommend a topical antifungal cream. If the child has oral thrush or yeast infection in the mouth, an oral medication might be necessary. Although yeast infection rashes in babies are normally harmless, they could result in more severe conditions if left untreated. 


Yeast Infection and Sexual Intercourse

Yeast infection is not a sexually transmitted infection. However, it is possible to get the infection after engaging in sexual intercourse. Other factors, on the other hand, may disrupt Candida's balance within the vaginal region. Bacteria can be transmitted through vaginal intercourse and fingers and sex toys. 

Having vaginal intercourse with a partner with a penile yeast infection is another risk. It's also possible for a man to get a penile yeast infection from a female partner with a vaginal yeast infection. In addition, bacteria in the mouth, vaginal area, as well as the penile area can be disrupted by oral sex.

It's also likely that the yeast infection after sex is unrelated to the other symptoms. Sexual intercourse is only one of the underlying risk factors for a yeast infection. 


Yeast infection and Urinary tract infection (UTI)

UTI is one of the common infections affecting most women. Although it's possible to get one or both diseases at the same time, yeast infections and UTI are two distinct disorders. 

A urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection that develops within the urinary system. The urethra, bladder, and kidneys are all part of this complicated structure. UTIs may also occur due to a variety of factors, including intercourse, STIs, and a failure to urinate on a regular basis. 

The signs and symptoms of a UTI differ from those of a yeast infection. While there is no visible yeast infection discharge, you can notice a small trace of blood in the urine. In addition to regular urination, a UTI may trigger pelvic as well as abdominal pain.

A UTI can result in severe kidney problems if left untreated. Antibiotics should be obtained from a physician. Also, inquire from the doctor about the distinctions between a yeast infection and a urinary tract infection.


How to differentiate “Yeast infection” and “Chlamydia”?

While yeast infections produce thick, white, cottage-cheese like discharge, Chlamydia can cause white, green or yellow discharge. Gonorrhea discharge is white or green.


Yeast Infection and Menstrual Periods 

Experiencing a yeast infection and menstrual periods at the same time may feel like a blast. This, though, is somewhat rare. Yeast infections are common in women in their last days leading up to the period. 

Hormone fluctuations are believed to be the reason for yeast infections prior to your menstrual period. This creates imbalances in good bacteria within the vagina.

If you have white or yellow discharge about a week before your cycle, it may not always be due to a yeast infection. What matters is whether you already have such distinguishing signs, including redness, itchiness, or burning.

Though it might be inconvenient, early treatment will help clear up the yeast infection before the next period. Consult the doctor if your yeast infection signs persist after the cycle is done. You can also notice them if you keep on getting yeast infections prior to the menstrual periods on a monthly basis.


Yeast Infection during Pregnancy 

Due to the hormonal changes that occur throughout pregnancy, yeast infections are normal. If you are pregnant and think you have a yeast infection, you should consult the doctor and receive a proper diagnosis.

Yeast infections in pregnancy are not necessarily treated the same as they are in non-pregnant women. Because of the potential risk of congenital disabilities, you may not be able to use oral antifungal drugs. Physicians often recommend using topical antifungals during pregnancy.

Though yeast infections will not harm the infant, the Candida fungus may be passed at birth. Therefore, the baby can develop a diaper rash or oral thrush as a result of this. It's thus critical to treat yeast infection as soon as possible, particularly if you are pregnant, to avoid complications. 


Yeast infection of the intestine

In immunocompromised individuals, fungal infections are one of the leading causes of morbidity and death. Invasive fungal infections, especially those of the gastrointestinal system, have become more common as the number of immunocompromised people has grown. 

Intestinal overgrowth is also a possibility. Candida might occur in your stool as a result of this. When patients experience colonic symptoms, especially if they are immunocompromised, physicians should be aware of this fungal organism.


Yeast Infection Diet

It's possible that the things you eat are contributing to your yeast infections. Sugar is a favorite of yeast. Avoiding the items listed below (sometimes known as a Candida diet) will help you control yeast development in your body.

  • White flour and rice
  • Foods or drinks fermented with yeast
  • Foods made up of simple sugars

While eliminating certain items may help you avoid a yeast infection, sticking to this diet might be tough. Fortunately, you may not need to avoid these items entirely to experience a reduction in the incidence or severity of yeast infections. Cutting back in tiny increments may be beneficial. 

It may also be beneficial to boost your consumption of healthy proteins and fats, as well as low-starch fruits and vegetables. You don't have to go hungry on a low-sugar diet; you just need to consume more from other food categories.


When to Consult a Doctor?

You should immediately see a doctor if;

  • You are experiencing signs and symptoms of a yeast infection for the first time 
  • You are uncertain if you have a yeast infection. 
  • The symptoms do not improve after using over-the-counter antifungal vaginal creams and suppositories. 
  • Other signs emerge.



Yeast infection occurs in any part of the body due to yeast overgrowth. It’s the most widespread infection caused by Candida Albicans yeast, a type of fungus. Yeast infections can develop in the mouth, vaginal areas, underarms, and other moist parts of the skin. 

Generally, yeast infections are normal, but timely treatment may help alleviate the unpleasant symptoms within a short period. You can also avoid potential conditions by identifying your risk factors. If you have recurrent yeast infections that last more than two months, see your doctor.


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