Candidiasis is a fungal infection due to any type of Candida (a type of yeast). When it affects the mouth, it is commonly called thrush. Signs and symptoms include white patches on the tongue or other areas of the mouth and throat. Other symptoms may include soreness and problems swallowing.
When it affects the vagina, it is commonly called a yeast infection. Signs and symptoms include genital itching, burning, and sometimes a white “cottage cheese-like” discharge from the vagina. Less commonly the penis may be affected, resulting in itchiness. Very rarely, the infection may become invasive spreading throughout the body, resulting in fevers along with other symptoms depending on the parts of the body affected.
More than 20 types of Candida can cause infection with Candida albicans being the most common.
Infections of the mouth are most common among children less than one month old, the elderly, and those with weak immune systems. Conditions that result in a weak immune system include HIV/AIDS, the medications used after organ transplantation, diabetes, and the use of corticosteroids. Other risks include dentures and following antibiotic therapy. Vaginal infections occur more commonly during pregnancy, in those with weak immune systems, and following antibiotic use. Risk for widespread infection includes being in an intensive care unit, following surgery, low birth weight infants, and those with weak immune systems.
Efforts to prevent infections of the mouth include the use of chlorhexidine mouth wash in those with poor immune function and washing out the mouth following the use of inhaled steroids. Little evidence supports probiotics for either prevention or treatment even among those with frequent vaginal infections. For infections of the mouth, treatment with topical clotrimazole or nystatin is usually effective. Oral or intravenous fluconazole, itraconazole, or amphotericin B may be used if these do not work.
A number of topical antifungal medications may be used for vaginal infections including clotrimazole. In those with widespread disease, a number of weeks of intravenous amphotericin B is often used. In certain groups at very high risk antifungal medications may be used preventatively.
Infections of the mouth occur in about 6% of babies less than a month old. About 20% of those receiving chemotherapy for cancer and 20% of those with AIDS also develop the disease. About three-quarters of women have at least one yeast infection at some time during their lives. Widespread disease is rare except in those who have risk factors. These diseases are also known technically as candidosis, moniliasis, and oidiomycosis.
Vaginal yeast infection, also known as candidal
vulvovaginitis and vaginal thrush, is excessive growth of yeast
in the vagina that results in irritation. The most common symptom is vaginal
itching, which may be severe. Other symptoms include burning with urination,
white and thick vaginal discharge that typically does not smell bad, pain
with sex, and redness around the vagina. Symptoms often worsen just before a
Vaginal yeast infections are due to excessive growth of Candida.
These yeast are normally present in the vagina in small numbers. It is not
classified as a sexually transmitted infection; however, it may occur more
often in those who are frequently sexually active. Risk factors include
taking antibiotics, pregnancy, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. Eating a diet high in
simple sugar may also play a role. Tight clothing, type of underwear, and
personal hygiene do not appear to be factors. Diagnosis is by testing a
sample of vaginal discharge. As symptoms are similar to that of the sexually
transmitted infections, chlamydia and gonorrhea, testing may be recommended.
Despite the lack of evidence, wearing cotton underwear and loose fitting
clothing is often recommended as a preventative measure. Avoiding douching
and scented hygiene products is also recommended. Treatment is with an
antifungal medication. This may be either as a creams such as clotrimazole
or with oral medications such as fluconazole. Probiotics have not been found
to be useful for active infections.
About 75% of women have at least one vaginal yeast infection at some
point in their lives while nearly half have at least two. About 5% have more
than three infections in a single year. It is the second most common cause
of vaginal inflammation after bacterial vaginosis.
Vaginal Yeast Infections, also known as candidacies, are a common female condition. Yeast infections are caused by the fungus Candida. This fungus is associated with intense itching, swelling, and irritation.
According to the Mayo Clinic, 3 out of 4 women will experience a yeast infection at one point in their lives. Once you get a yeast infection, you’re more likely to get another one.
Vaginal yeast infections can be spread by sexual contact, but in general they aren’t considered a sexually transmitted infection. Treatment for yeast infections is relatively simple, depending on how severe they are.
Speculum exam in candidal vulvovaginitis, showing thick, curd-like
plaque on the anterior vaginal wall. A slightly erythematous base is visible
close to the center of the image, where some of the plaque was scraped
What Causes Vaginal Yeast Infections?
The Candida genus of yeast is a naturally occurring
microorganism in the vaginal area. Its growth is kept in check by the
lactobacillus bacteria. However, these bacteria can’t work effectively
if there is an imbalance in your system. This leads to an overgrowth of
yeast, which causes the symptoms of vaginal yeast infections to be present.
Most yeast infections are caused by Candida albicans — a
specific strand of yeast. These yeast infections are easily treatable. If
you’re having recurring yeast infections or problems getting rid of a yeast
infection with conventional treatment, then a different version of
Candida might be the culprit. A lab test can let your doctor know which
type of Candida you have.
The imbalance that allows the overgrowth of yeast to happen can be due
- antibiotics (they lower the amount of lactobacillus, or
good bacteria, in the vagina)
- uncontrolled diabetes
- weak immune system
- poor eating habits, including a lot of sugary foods
- hormonal imbalance near your menstrual cycle
- lack of sleep
The Symptoms of a Vaginal & Mouth Yeast Infection
of time your yeast infection is left untreated can have a direct impact on
how severe your symptoms are.
The symptoms of vaginal thrush include vulval itching, vulval soreness
and irritation, pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse (superficial
dyspareunia), pain or discomfort during urination (dysuria) and vaginal
discharge, which is usually odourless. This can be thin and watery, or thick
and white, like cottage cheese.
As well as the above symptoms of thrush, vulvovaginal inflammation can
also be present. The signs of vulvovaginal inflammation include erythema
(redness) of the vagina and vulva, vaginal fissuring (cracked skin), edema
(swelling from a build-up of fluid), also in severe cases, satellite lesions
(sores in the surrounding area). This is rare, but may indicate the presence
of another fungal condition, or the herpes simplex virus (the virus that
causes genital herpes).
- White spots inside the mouth and on the tongue
- Redness or discomfort in the mouth area
- Sore throat and difficulty swallowing
- Cracking at corners of the mouth where your lips meet
Untreated, it may infect your bloodstream, which can be very dangerous.
Treatment depends on your:
- Overall health
- Severity of the infection
antifungal medicine to kill the yeast. This medicine may come in a mouthwash
or a pill that you swallow or that dissolves in your mouth.
threatening, you may be given a powerful antifungal drug given through a
Frequent symptoms include:
- Extreme itching in the vaginal area
- large or small amounts of vaginal discharge, often whitish gray and
thick (although there are also times the discharge can be watery),
clumpy vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese
- Painful intercours during sex
- Soreness and redness in the vaginal area
Getting a Vaginal Yeast Infection Diagnosis
getting information regarding your medical history. This will include
whether or not you have had prior yeast infections. Normally, doctors will
also ask if you have ever had a sexually transmitted infection.
The next step is a pelvic exam. Your doctor will examine your vagina and
the surrounding area to see if there are external signs of infection. They
will also examine your vaginal walls and cervix. Depending on what your
doctor discovers, they will take a vaginal culture to send to the lab for
confirmation. Tests are usually ordered only for women that have yeast
infections on a regular basis or for infections that won’t go away.
After an initial diagnosis, you may be able to determine the presence of
a future yeast infection on your own.
What Is the Best Way to Treat a Vaginal Yeast Infection?
For simple yeast infections, your doctor will usually prescribe the
- a one- to three-day regimen of an antifungal cream, ointment,
tablet, or suppository. Common antifungal medications are Gynazle,
Lotrimin, Monistat, and Terazol. These medications can be in
prescription or over-the-counter form.
- a single dose of oral medication such as Diflucan
Women with simple yeast infections should make sure to follow up with
their doctor to make sure the medicine worked. A follow-up will also be
necessary if your symptoms return within two months.
Certain types of Candida will not respond to normal treatment
and will require an aggressive course of treatment. If you meet one of the
following criteria, your doctor will more than likely treat your yeast
infection as if it were a severe or complicated case:
- You have severe redness, swelling, and itching that leads to sores
or tears in your vaginal tissue.
- You have had more than four yeast infections in a year.
- Candida other than albicans is the cause of your
- You are pregnant.
- You have uncontrolled diabetes or a weak immune system from
medication or from being HIV-positive.
Possible treatments for severe or complicated yeast infections include:
- 14-day cream, ointment, tablet, or suppository vaginal treatment
- two or three doses of Diflucan (not for pregnant women)
- long-term prescription of Diflucan that is taken once a week for six
weeks, or long-term use of a topical antifungal medication
- treatment of your sexual partner or use of condoms when having sex
Natural and Alternative Solutions to Vaginal Yeast Infections
like to avoid taking prescription medication. These are some popular natural
- tea tree oil cream
- garlic or boric acid vaginal suppositories
- yogurt taken orally or inserted into the vagina
How to Prevent Vaginal Yeast Infections
example, some women experience these infections every time they take
antibiotics. By recognizing your own risk factors, you can prevent future
Here are some common methods of prevention, most targeted at avoiding
bacteria growth near the vagina:
- avoid wearing tight pants, pantyhose, tights, or leggings
- avoid using feminine deodorant or deodorant tampons/pads
- do not sit around in wet clothing, especially bathing suits
- eat a well-balanced diet
- eat yogurt or take supplements with lactobacillus
- wear natural fibers such as cotton, linen, or silk
- avoid sitting in hot tubs or taking frequent hot tub baths
- wash underwear in hot water
- avoid douching
- change feminine products frequently
Epidemiology The number of cases of vaginal yeast infection is not entirely
clear because it is not a reportable disease and it is commonly diagnosed
clinically without laboratory confirmation. Candidiasis is one of the three most common vaginal infections along with bacterial vaginosis and trichomonas. Approximately 20% of women get an infection yearly.
About 75% of women have at least one infection in their lifetime.
This fungus is among the microbes constituting the normal microflora of the body, and this includes the genital tract as well. However, it can turn into an opportunistic pathogen when the growth conditions are to its liking, and often cause a recurrent and persistent infection in a number of women. However, terming vaginal discharge as the possible symptom of ‘some disease condition’ would be grossly inaccurate because it is quite normal for almost all women to experience discharge of some type and quantity irrespective of their health conditions. Thus, it becomes essential to know all about this topic to be able to differentiate vaginal discharge from yeast infection from discharges caused by other infections, or health conditions.
The vaginal discharge in women performs an extremely crucial role of housekeeping inside the genital tract by flushing out all the dead cells and microbes to maintain the fine balance of the resident microflora. Moreover, this discharge can experience subtle changes in color and texture at different time of the month depending on the periodic cycle. In addition to that, several other factors such as heavy exercise and sexual arousal can also significantly alter the amount and consistency of the vaginal discharge. Therefore, it would be grossly incorrect to form a simple vaginal discharge yeast infection correlation because the working of the human body is much more complex than that. Thus, it is essential to become aware of the various different types of vaginal discharges that women may encounter because of a variety of different causing factors.
What is a Normal Discharge?
Clear and watery vaginal discharge in women is the most commonly experienced type, and this performs the function of cleansing the genital tract, and providing it with much needed lubrication at the time sexual intercourse as well. Apart from that, white and watery discharge is an extremely common phenomenon at the beginning and ending of the periodic menstrual cycle. However, women may experience clear discharge, which is stretchy or mucous-like in consistency rather than being watery at the time of their ovulation phase. However, this is not a case of yeast discharge and there is no need to take any medication or other curative measure.
Changes in the color and consistency of the vaginal discharge can take place under the influence of a number of diverse factors. The most common cause of changes in the color and texture of the discharge are because of an infection, which makes the vaginal discharge an extremely significant symptom for early detection. In a yeast infection discharge, the vaginal discharge turns whitish or whitish-gray in color and develops the thick consistency of cottage cheese then it is most likely to be because of an infection by the Candida fungus (yeast infection discharge). However, not all women suffering from genital yeast infection experiences such uniformity in the consistency of their discharge. As many women do also experience their vaginal yeast discharge to be much more watery in consistency at times. This can make the prompt detection of such a yeast infection based on visible symptoms to be a lot trickier. Doctors usually make note of the vaginal discharge in conjunction with a number of symptoms for making prompt detection of the yeast infection before turning to more accurate scientific diagnostic tools for being sure. Moreover, women who experience a yeast infection discharge should look to seek treatment quickly, as the infection could increase symptoms of: itching, pain, and discomfort in the vagina, and if left untreated, it could spread to other areas of the body.
What is a Bacterial Discharge?
It would be wrong to surmise that abnormalities in the color and consistency of the vaginal discharge only in case of genital yeast infection. In fact, vaginal infections caused by a number of other infectious agents can also cause considerable changes in the color, consistency, and odor of the vaginal discharge. Bacterial infection of the vaginal tract can also give rise to whitish or whitish-grey discharge, which is of watery consistency. Thus, many cases of bacterial infection can be indistinguishable from vaginal yeast infection in terms of the color and consistency of the vaginal discharge. However, the vaginal discharge caused by bacterial infection possesses one prominent distinction from the yeast infection discharge, which is the foul fishy smell accompanying such discharges. Heavy and foul smelling vaginal discharge in women may also occur because of bacterial infection of the genital tract in case of pelvic inflammatory disease. This disease usually spreads through sexual contact with an infected person, and can spread up the vaginal canal to other reproductive organs.
What other Vaginal Discharges are there?
Apart from the discharge caused by bacterial infections of the vaginal tract, Trichomonas infection is another extremely common infection in women. This infection cases vaginal discharge of yellow-green color with frothy consistency, and a characteristic strong odor. Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease often does not produce any symptom in the infected women. In fact, as many as half the women infected with the pathogen of Gonorrhea may not show any outward indication or symptom of the infection. However, some women can experience a yellowish vaginal discharge along with an assortment of other usual symptoms present in sexually transmitted diseases. Thus, yeast discharge is not the only cause for abrupt changes in the normal color and consistency of the vaginal discharge in women. In fact, women suffering from advanced stages of cervical cancer may experience a brownish or bloody color discharge, even though the presence of this symptom is exceedingly rare, and this is not a yeast infection discharge.
Can Men get a Yeast Discharge?
One common misconception that is prevalent in most circles is that the yeast infection discharge is present only in case of women suffering from a bout of genital infection by Candida albicans. However, this is as far from the truth as one may imagine because men suffering from genital yeast infection can experience some form of discharge as well. In fact, male yeast infection discharge can also be white in color and clumpy in consistency, which makes it resemble the discharge seen in infected women rather closely. Thus, presence of any such discharge coupled with other likely symptoms such as itching or irritation on the head of the penis, or presence of blisters on the penis ought to be reason enough to get treatment at the earliest.
Its also to be noted that a yeast infection could also occur without discharge as well, but the main common visual signs are seen from genital discharge or within the mouth.
How do you Treat it? – Natural Remedies vs Medication
There are a number of antifungal medications available to use via both the oral and vaginally administered route to take care of the yeast infection and eliminate the symptoms including the abnormal vaginal discharge.
However, treating a yeast infection discharge using natural remedies, and making changes to your diet, is by far a better way to fully resolve the problem, than by treating the illness with over the counter medication. This is because over the counter medication may clear the infection at first, but the yeast infection could re-occur again and again in the future. Moreover, most of the antifungal medications also have many side effects from mild to severe, which include: increased itching, burning, skin irritation around vagina, stomach pain, and many more. This is where using natural remedies instead of antifungal medications can be a far better option, as they are highly effective in treating the problem by gently cleansing it from the root cause, and are generally very healthy for the body, and they have no harmful side effects associated with them. If your interested in trying special home remedies for your yeast infection, and would like a comprehensive guide with powerful remedies to treat it properly and naturally.
If you still prefer to take antifungal medication, then you must bear in mind, that a number of women have experienced heavier amounts of vaginal discharge right after they begin treatment with an antifungal agent. However, this increased amount of vaginal discharge after taking antifungal medication is because the dissolved medication starts to ooze out in the form of excess discharge, along with the excess yeast it self. Thus, what many women mistakenly believe to be lots of discharge is nothing but the dissolved medication coming out along with the regular vaginal discharge. Moreover, the yeast discharge takes around a week to clear out, from the day an infected person starts taking the antifungal medication, and it would not be prudent to expect the discharge to turn normal just the day after anyone starts using the oral or vaginally administered medications. In fact, this makes it even more important to continue the medication for its entire course to ensure that the infection does not recur back again quickly.
There are a number of different antifungal medications like Miconazole and Clotrimazole that can help clear a yeast infection discharge, but again you could expect some side effects when using them.
Overall, it is quite apparent that noticing a vaginal discharge can prove to be an extremely effective method in detecting presence of any infection or other diseases affecting the genital tract. This stands true in case of yeast infection as well, and even in men who may experience discharge from the genital organ. Therefore, the white discharge from yeast infection provides an extremely important visual clue to both women and men to notice the presence of a yeast infection in the genital areas. And adequate treatment should be started promptly once any such signs are seen, as leaving the infection as it is, will only make it worse over time.