Wellness Reproductive Health Yeast Infection What Are Yeast Infections? Yeast infections are common and can develop in the vagina, mouth, throat, and on the skin. Here are the symptoms, treatments, and prevention methods. By Cristina Mutchler Cristina Mutchler Twitter Cristina Mutchler is a Peabody award-winning journalist, specializing in health and wellness content for over a decade. health's editorial guidelines Updated on November 11, 2022 Medically reviewed by Jennifer Pollard Ruiz, MD Medically reviewed by Jennifer Pollard Ruiz, MD Jennifer Pollard Ruiz, MD, is a family medicine physician and experienced medical writer. She has practiced primary care for more than 20 years in the public, private, and government sectors. learn more Share Tweet Pin Email A yeast infection is a common, treatable fungal infection that is medically known as candidiasis. It is caused by a yeast called Candida, a type of fungus. Data suggest that more than 70% of people with a vagina have had at least one vaginal yeast infection in their lifetime. But virtually anyone can get a yeast infection, including babies and people without vaginas. That's because yeast infections can develop on not just the genitals, but also on the skin, mouth, throat, and esophagus. Depending on what area of the body is affected, the infection can produce a range of symptoms. The infection may also be referenced by different names depending on what area it's affecting. For example, when a yeast infection affects the mouth or throat, it is commonly called thrush. Yeast Infection vs. UTI: How to Tell the Difference Getty Images What Causes a Yeast Infection? Candida is a yeast that naturally lives on the skin and in the mouth, throat, gut, and vagina without causing any issues. The most common species of yeast to cause yeast infections is Candida albicans. It's estimated that up to 70% of people have that specific fungus living harmlessly in their bodies. But sometimes, the body's normal balance of germs gets disrupted by a change in its environment, which can be triggered by things like medication use or hormonal changes. When this happens, Candida can start to grow out of control, causing a yeast infection. Risk Factors Anyone with a vagina can get a vaginal yeast infection. But you may have a higher chance of getting a vaginal yeast infection if you: Are pregnant Use hormonal birth control pills Have diabetes Have a weakened immune system due to an illness like HIV or corticosteroid medication use Have recently taken or are currently taking antibiotics Can Stress Give You a Yeast Infection? Yeast infections of the skin are more likely to develop in warm, moist creases like the armpits or groin. Risk factors include: DiabetesObesityAntibioticsSteroid therapyChemotherapy Yeast infections in the mouth or throat are uncommon among healthy adults. More typically, they occur in babies, especially those who are younger than 1 month. Among adults, though, risk factors include: Wearing denturesHaving diabetes, cancer, or HIV/AIDSTaking antibiotics or corticosteroids, including inhaled corticosteroids for asthmaHaving dry mouthSmoking Symptoms Vaginal yeast infections can be uncomfortable. Some of the most common signs and symptoms include: Itching and burning sensation in the vulva (the area located right outside the vagina)Redness or swelling of the vulvaBurning or pain that gets stronger while peeing or during sexThick, lumpy, white vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese Yeast infections less commonly affect the penis, but when they do, they can produce an itchy rash. A yeast infection of the skin can cause an itchy, red rash or pimple-like bumps, and a yeast infection of the mouth or throat can lead to white patches in the mouth and throat. Other signs and symptoms of oral thrush include: Redness or sorenessDry mouthLoss of tastePain while eating or swallowingCracking and redness at the corners of the mouth I Transmitted a Yeast Infection to My Partner Through Sex How a Yeast Infection Is Diagnosed If you've had a vaginal yeast infection before, you might be tempted to self-diagnose after noticing telltale symptoms. But the most accurate way to get a yeast infection diagnosis is by visiting a healthcare provider. One 2018 study estimates that vaginal yeast infections are the reason for roughly 1.4 million outpatient medical visits each year in the US. Whether the yeast infection is of the vagina or another area, the provider will ask about your symptoms and look at the infected area during the visit. They will also likely take a sample of your vaginal discharge, skin, or mouth lesions—depending on which area is affected—to determine if Candida overgrowth is present. Treatment For mild-to-moderate cases of vaginal yeast infections, treatment often involves topical antifungal medications. These come in the form of creams, ointments, or suppositories (inserted into the vagina). For severe or recurring cases of vaginal yeast infections, a healthcare provider will likely recommend a different type of antifungal treatment regimens, such as one that has a stronger dose or an oral medication (capsules by mouth) or a combination treatment. Yeast infections of the mouth, throat, and skin are also commonly treated with antifungals. When it comes to yeast infections of the skin, it is also key to keep the skin dry and expose it to air. Left untreated, the infection and its symptoms will get worse. It is possible for yeast infections to affect other organs and lead to sepsis. Prevention While it's impossible to see the tiny Candida yeast as they start to multiply, it is possible to take preventive measures to try to keep yeast infections at bay. To help lower the chances of developing a vaginal yeast infection, you can: Refrain from douching Avoid scented soaps and products around the vaginal area Wear breathable cotton underwear that's not too tight Change out of sweaty workout clothes or wet bathing suits as soon as possible Avoid spending time in hot tubs and hot baths Wipe from front to back after using the bathroom Change tampons and pads often Keep your blood sugar levels under control, particularly if you have diabetes Take antibiotics only when you need to and exactly as your provider instructs To prevent yeast infections of the mouth and throat, you should keep up with your oral hygiene. That includes rinsing your mouth or brushing your teeth after using inhaled corticosteroids. When it comes to preventing yeast infections of the skin, absorbent powders can help in keeping your skin dry. The Candida Diet—What It Is and How It Works A Quick Review Yeast infections are characterized by an overgrowth of Candida. They are common in the vagina, though they can also show up in the mouth (thrush), armpits, penis, and other damp, clammy areas of the body. If you think you might have a yeast infection, reach out to a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fungal diseases: Candidiasis. Martin Lopez JE. Candidiasis (vulvovaginal). BMJ Clin Evid. 2015;2015:0815. 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