A yeast infection is a problem caused by the overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans. The yeast may infect the vagina, mouth, or other moist areas on the skin.
A yeast infection is also called candidiasis.
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 sex.
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’s most common in areas that stay warm and moist, like under the breasts, in the groin, or in any area where there are skin folds.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history 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, to check for yeast.
Medicines are available as:
A vaginal suppository is a capsule or tablet that you put into the vagina each evening just before you go to bed. Vaginal creams come with an applicator to insert the cream into the vagina. You will use the medicine for a certain number of nights, depending on the type of suppository. Your body temperature will melt the suppository and a small amount may leak onto medicine 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 vaginal medicines can be bought without a prescription. 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 tablets exactly as prescribed. If you do not think the medicine is helping, call your healthcare provider. Don’t increase how much you take or how often you take it without talking to your healthcare provider first.
With proper treatment, the infection usually clears up in a few days to a week.
Treatment for yeast infections will not help or cure sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomonas.
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.
Ask your healthcare provider:
Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.
Here are some things you can do to help prevent yeast infection: