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What Is A Yeast Infection?

Candida albicans yeast is a tiny fungus that can cause the common symptoms of a yeast infection. These infections can show up anywhere on the body, including the vagina, the mouth, male genitals, under the breasts and in the armpits, and even under your nails. Many diaper rashes are also caused by yeast.

People with compromised immune systems, like AIDS patients and chemotherapy patients, can also get yeast infections that attack the blood cells and internal organs, including the brain. These patients must be treated very aggressively to get rid of the yeast, because a yeast infection can be fatal for these patients.

For most of us, a yeast infection is a bothersome, irritating, itchy condition that soon goes away. Sometimes it even goes away by itself, without any treatment at all. When the infection is more severe, but still manageable, home remedies such as yogurt or honey may alleviate the symptoms.

And when mild natural remedies fail, non-prescription medications are available in the drugstore for vaginal yeast infections, and your doctor can give you a prescription for oral thrush, skin infections, and male yeast infections.

Vaginal yeast infections are the most common. Most women will experience at least one infection during their lifetime. Unfortunately, many women get chronic infections because so many things can trigger the yeast to become infectious.

The symptoms of vaginal yeast infections are “nonspecific.” This means that it is not possible to use the symptoms alone to make a diagnosis, because all these symptoms can also be caused by other organisms.

The most common symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection (yeast vaginitis) are:

• Itching and burning in the vagina and vulva.

• Soreness, swelling and pain around the vulva.

• Pain during intercourse or urination.

• Vaginal discharge. This discharge is not always present, but if there is a discharge it will be odorless or smell like baker’s yeast, and usually has a whitish, thick appearance.

It seems as though these symptoms are pretty obvious, so many women self-diagnose their own infections and either use natural remedies or purchase antifungal medication at their drugstore.

Unfortunately, studies have shown that as much as two-thirds of the non-prescription medications for yeast infections are being used by women who don’t have yeast infections. Most of the symptoms can also be caused by bacteria and parasites, which must be treated by a doctor.

A male yeast infection is caused by the same organism that causes vaginal yeast infections in women, oral thrush, and diaper rash – Candida albicans.

Skin infections, including male yeast infections, look red and flat, with sharp scalloped edges. You may see small pustules around the edges of the rash, the area may itch or burn, and it may be painful. There are usually smaller patches nearby. A rash around the anus may be white or red, and will itch.

While the infection is occasionally shared among sexual partners, it is not considered a sexually transmitted disease.

A yeast infection in the mouth of infants and adults is called “thrush.” It appears as thick white lacy patches that can form anywhere inside the mouth, including the tongue or palate. If the white patches are scraped away, the area underneath will be red and may bleed. Occasionally, an oral yeast infection can cause the tongue to be red without a white coating.

Many different things can trigger a yeast infection, including antibiotics, a change in the natural hormone cycle, birth control pills, too much sugar in the diet, and many more.

Some chronic yeast infections can be symptoms of a serious underlying illness that has affected the endocrine system or the immune system. Anyone who has chronic yeast infections that are not caused by any of the “usual suspects” should ask their doctor for a complete checkup to rule out the possibility of a serious illness.

About the Author: Jonni writes full-time about important health issues, including yeast infections. Find out which natural yeast infection remedies really work, and download a FREE Report called “4 Important Facts About Yeast Infections,” at

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