> Yeast Infection Treatment
Yeast infections are caused by fungus or yeast, which are microscopic
in size. The medical term for yeast infections is candidiasis. The
name derives from the species of fungus called Candida. Yeast infections
are extremely common among the human population, in particular the
species Candida albicans. Yeast infection can occur all over the body
including between the toes (athletes foot), in the groin area (vaginitis)
and even inside the mouth (thrush).
In many cases, if the infected person has a strong immune system and
the yeast infection is treated properly, candidiasis is relatively
harmless. In other cases, where the immune system is weakened due
to immunodeficiency disorders, yeast infections can be much more harmful
and very difficult to treat.
Yeast infections occur on the warm, moist parts of the body; the underarms,
the groin area, between the toes and in the mouth to name a few. Candida
fungus can also penetrate openings in the skin (wounds, dermatological
conditions) and cause infection. Typical areas of infection include:
• Between the toes, common with athletes who wear closed toed
shoes while performing sports or sports training. Cool, dark locker/shower
rooms are conducive to the growth of fungus, which can cause the fungus
• The groin area: Yeast infections in the groin area of women,
called yeast vaginitis, is another common type of yeast infection
in women of all ages.
• Babies, with lower immune systems, are more susceptible to
candidiasis with the mouth and diaper area being the most common areas
• Elderly people have a higher chance of contracting a yeast
infection in the mouth, especially if they use dentures. This is commonly
called oral thrush.
• Other areas of infection can be under the breasts, under the
arms and in the folds of the skin.
What Causes Yeast Infections
Yeasts and fungi are present in all people, but are kept to a minimum
by the immune system and by other bacteria and enzymes present in
the body. A yeast infection simply occurs when yeast is present but
not kept in check by these regulating factors. The yeast continues
to grow and multiply, affecting an area of the body conducive to it’s
growth. A lowered immune system due to unrelated factors is the most
common reason for a yeast infection. People with HIV or AIDS have
a much higher chance of contracting a yeast infection which can become
systemic and infiltrate the entire body. Systemic yeast infections
can be fatal.
For people with lowered immune systems, such as the elderly, newborns,
or people with other illnesses, yeast infections are more common but
are not likely to become systemic. In some cases, the yeast or fungus
can be transferred (by sharing clothes and towels or by having intercourse
Other factors can contribute to the accelerated growth of fungus and
the resulting infection. Steroid use, for medical or aesthetic purposes,
can make the body more prone to yeast infections. Certain antibiotics
have also been linked to yeast infection outbreaks in some patients.
Antibiotics usually kill other bacteria that normally keep the Candida
in check, thus allowing it to flourish, replicate and create an infection.
Simple hormonal changes can also cause the Candida fungus to multiply
and cause an infection. For vaginitis, a simple change in hormone
levels has been shown to be the cause of some yeast infections. Diabetes
mellitus has also been linked to yeast infections. Lack of hygiene,
especially in combination with malnutrition or poor eating habits
can greatly increase the chances of a yeast infection.
Yeast Infection Symptoms
There are many symptoms of yeast infections, usually dependant on
their location on the body. Below are some symptoms of the more common
• Oral Thrush: Yeast infections of the mouth and throat are
fairly common in newborns and elderly. Symptoms include a redness
of the tongue, palette or inside of the cheeks usually followed by
the onset of a thick, whitish covering. The whitish areas usually
manifest in patches, and appear to be easily removed but are often
difficult to remove and can be very painful. Pain similar to canker
sores, oral thrush can cause difficulty in eating, speaking and wearing
• Vaginitis: The most common yeast infection among women,
vaginitis has symptoms of extreme burning and itchiness. Sometimes
there is a milky discharge from the affected region. There is sometimes
a curd-like appearance to heavily affected areas. Vaginitis can
also infect the vulva. It should be mentioned that although much
less common, men can also experience yeast infections in the groin
area, known as penile yeast infections. These infections usually
cause a red, burning, itching rash near the end of the penis and
under the foreskin. Colored discharges are possible but not as common
as with vaginitis.
• Candidiasis of the skin: Yeast infections occurring on
other parts of the body usually start out as itchy, slightly burning
patches on the skin. The skin eventually becomes covered in a red
rash with scalloped edges. Other smaller rashes may start to appear
near the main rash or the originally infected area. Once the rash
is present, the area may be extremely itchy or have a painful burning
Yeast infections, in some cases, can be much more serious than simple
or superficial infections. With people who have immunodeficiency
diseases, the Candida fungus can spread into the digestive tract.
In extreme cases, the yeast infection can spread to internal organs,
and even into the bloodstream. When the Candida infection becomes
this extreme, there are a whole multitude of symptoms depending
on what area is infected. People with these diseases should have
their doctor performing regular checkups and should record any strange
rashes or pains to be presented to their physician upon every visit.
Yeast Infection Treatment
Yeast infections are treated differently depending on where the
infection is located. Treatments range from home remedies to over-the-counter
drugs to medical prescriptions. Below are some common treatments
for yeast infections.
Tea tree oil, in particular the compound terpinen-4-ol, has been
used to treat yeast infections naturally for years. The oil is applied
directly to the affected area as a topical medication. Note: dilute
tea tree oil before applying to sensitive areas such as the vagina.
Probiotics have been shown to regulate the Candida fungus in the
body. Taking probiotics (which are themselves bacteria that are
helpful to the body) may help maintain internal balance and keep
the Candida fungus in check, thereby curing yeast infection while
Over the counter medication
Clotrimazole is found in many creams and lotions and can be used
as a topical medication for superficial infections (infections on
Miconazole is a very common antifungal agent used for fungus infections
on all parts of the body (except the mouth). Miconazole is the active
ingredient in Monostat.
Other antifungal agents (antimycotics) include nystatin, fluconazole
and ketoconazole. These antifungal agents can be found in a variety
of retail creams, lotions and tablets for the purpose of fighting
superficial fungal and yeast infections.
In some cases, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or steroids
to fight a fungal infection. However, the use of antibiotics for
fungal infections is diminishing due to two factors: yeast infections
and fungus are able to adapt and evolve, making prolonged antibiotic
treatments useless, and; antibiotics can inadvertently kill other
bacteria in the body that usually keeps yeast infections (and other
fungi and viruses) in check.
When to See a Physician
Below are examples of when to see your physician. This does not
mean it is not acceptable to visit your physician without these
symptoms. This section simply recommends seeing your physician if
you haven’t seen him/her yet and you are showing the following
• Vaginal discharge for over a week
• Bloody - discharge, abdominal pain, fever accompanying infection
• Persistent infection even after at home treatment
• Oral thrush, particularly in children, should be properly
diagnosed by a physician
• Treatment, usually nystatin, is not effective.
• Inability to eat or intake fluids due to pain (particularly
Superficial Infections (underarms, between the toes, under the breasts)
• When regular over the counter treatment is not working
• The infected area is spreading to other parts of the body
(eg: from one armpit to the other)
• Nausea or vomiting is associated with the rash/infection
Needless to say, if you have an immunodeficiency disorder it is
important to notify your doctor if any yeast infection symptoms
arise. If your rash is associated with nausea and vomiting, you
should contact your physician immediately.
Preventing Yeast Infections
Yeast infection prevention is not always 100% effective, but there
are preventative measures that can be taken to greatly reduce your
chances of infection.
Hygiene: Proper hygiene cannot be stressed enough. Although people
with good hygiene can still get a yeast infection, good hygiene
can help ward off fungus in the starting stages. Besides warding
off a number of other infections, good hygiene can reduce the chances
of getting a yeast infection. When cleaning, pay particular attention
to the underarms, groin area, between the toes and under the breasts.
After washing, make sure these areas are completely dry.
As with a vast amount of other conditions, diet plays a key role
in helping your body maintain a healthy balance. Poor nutrition
can result in a lowered immune system, making yeast outbreaks more
common. Further, if your diet does not include certain bacteria
found in a variety of foods (particularly dairy foods), then your
body may not have enough ‘friendly’ bacteria to keep
yeast infections or other fungi in check.
Remember, if you get a yeast infection, don’t panic. If it’s
your first yeast infection, speak to your doctor. After reading
this article you will already be knowledgeable in the basic causes
and treatment options available.
National Institute of Health: