Signs and Symptoms of Yeast Infections

A yeast infection is a fungal infection that can affect different areas of the body, including the skin, mouth, nails, and genitals. 

A yeast infection, known medically as candidiasis, is caused by Candida yeast. 

Candida yeast is a fungus that naturally lives on your skin and inside the mouth, gut, and vagina. Typically, this yeast doesn't cause any issues. However, if Candida overgrows, it can lead to an infection. 

The signs and symptoms of a yeast infection you experience depend on where the infection develops. For instance, an oral yeast infection, known as thrush, usually causes white sores inside the mouth while a yeast infection that affects the genitals or skin can cause itchy, red, irritated skin.   

Common Symptoms 

A common symptom of several types of yeast infections is a red, itchy skin rash. The rash can appear anywhere on the skin but is more likely to occur on certain areas of the body, including: 

  • Skin folds, such as armpits, groin, and under the breasts
  • Between the fingers or toes
  • Around the nail beds 
  • Corners of the mouth
  • Genitals
  • Anus

Other symptoms vary depending on the specific type of yeast infection you have. For instance, in addition to a feeling of itchiness and soreness around the vagina if you have a vaginal yeast infection you may also have thick, white discharge.

Skin Yeast Infection Symptoms

A skin yeast infection can occur on different parts of the body but most commonly affects skin folds of the groin or under the breast. 

Yeast is already present on the skin. When certain areas of skin, including where the skin folds, are constantly rubbing together, it creates a warm, moist environment where Candida can thrive. 

The main symptoms of a skin yeast infection include:

  • Red skin lesions
  • Small red pimples surrounding the lesions
  • Itchy patches of skin

In more severe infections, the skin can start to crack or form painful blisters and sores. 

Yeast Diaper Rash Symptoms in Children

Children who are in diapers are more likely to experience diaper rash that is actually caused by a skin yeast infection. Since Candida thrives in areas with warmth and moisture, soiled diapers can be a breeding ground for yeast. Babies also have more folds under their necks, arms, and legs, so it's easier for them to get skin yeast rashes. 

For children experiencing a yeast diaper rash, symptoms can include:

  • A red rash with a slightly raised edge
  • A rash that is only underneath the diaper area and doesn't spread
  • Pus-filled blisters, pimples, or sores 
  • Scaly yellow or red patches on the genitals
  • Small red patches touching the edge of larger patches

Vaginal Yeast Infection Symptoms 

Vaginal yeast infections are caused by naturally occurring yeast inside the vagina that has become overgrown. Also called vaginal candidiasis, vulvovaginal candidiasis, or candidal vaginitis, this infection can affect the inside of your vagina and the vulva tissue (the skin around the vagina).

The most common vaginal yeast infection symptoms include:

  • Itchiness inside and around the vagina
  • Redness and swelling of the vagina and vulva
  • A burning sensation in the vagina and on the vulva
  • Pain when you pee
  • Pain during sex
  • Vaginal soreness
  • A thick, white, clumpy vaginal discharge without a foul odor (may resemble cottage cheese)

Vaginal yeast infection symptoms are often uncomfortable, but they are mostly mild. In rare cases, some folks can develop a severe infection that causes the walls of the vagina to swell and crack.  

Oral Thrush Symptoms 

Oral thrush, also called oral candidiasis, is a yeast infection in the mouth or throat. Candida is already living in these areas, but yeast overgrowth can result in an infection. 

Infants and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to experience oral thrush.

Symptoms of thrush can include:

  • White patches inside the cheeks
  • White patches on the tongue, the roof of the mouth, and throat  
  • A red or sore mouth and throat
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of taste
  • Painful swallowing
  • Redness or cracks at the corners of the mouth 

If you're breastfeeding a baby with oral thrush, this infection can also affect your nipples or breast since yeast thrives in moisture and milk. 

Signs that your baby’s oral thrush has affected you may include:

  • Sore nipples after a few days or weeks of pain-free breastfeeding
  • Flaky, shiny, or cracked nipples
  • Itchy nipples
  • Dark pink, blistered nipples
  • Achiness in the breast
  • Shooting breast pain during or after feedings

Nail Yeast Infection Symptoms

Yeast infections can occur on the skin around your fingernails and toenails if these areas become irritated and are frequently wet. For example, regularly biting your nails or getting manicures with contaminated tools can allow the yeast to enter the skin and multiply. 

Symptoms of a nail yeast infection can include:

  • Red and itchy skin around the nail bed
  • Degraded cuticles
  • Baggy skin around the nail bed, sometimes with pus
  • Discolored nails 
  • Hardening of the nails

If these initial symptoms are left untreated, you can develop a more severe infection that causes the nails to fall off. 

Penile Yeast Infection Symptoms

Yeast infections can also develop on the penis (candida balanitis) or penis and foreskin (candidal balanoposthitis). 

Balanitis is a general term for an inflamed penis head, which is often caused by a yeast infection. People with an uncircumcised penis are more likely to experience a penile yeast infection because moisture can get trapped under the foreskin.

It is also possible to get a yeast infection on your penis if you have sex with a partner with an anal, oral, or vaginal yeast infection. 

The main symptoms of a penile yeast infection include:

  • Red, swollen, or sore penis head 
  • Itchy, red skin around the penis head
  • Burning while peeing
  • Pain during sex
  • Small, pus-filled bumps on the top of the penis
  • White patches of the penis

While less common, people with an uncircumcised penis can also develop a white, foul-smelling discharge, known as smegma, underneath the foreskin. In more severe cases, folks may develop cracks that bleed on their foreskin. 

Esophageal Candidiasis Symptoms 

Yeast infections can occur in the esophagus, the tube connecting your throat and stomach. 

Called esophageal candidiasis, this type of infection most commonly affects people who are immunosuppressed, particularly those with HIV or AIDS, since their immune systems can't stop normal levels of Candida from overgrowing.  

People with esophageal candidiasis can be asymptomatic, but the most common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Painful swallowing
  • Pain in the chest, right behind the breastbone

Invasive Candidiasis Symptoms

Invasive candidiasis can develop when a yeast infection t has spread to your blood, heart, brain, eyes, or bones. This is a rare, severe type of yeast infection that more commonly affects people who have a weakened immune system.

The most common form of invasive candidiasis is candidemia, a yeast infection in the bloodstream. Candidemia is one of the most common bloodstream infections among hospitalized patients and can lead to death.  

The symptoms of invasive candidiasis are not always clear, since people with the infection often have other health conditions making them sick. Still, the most common symptoms of invasive candidiasis include fever and chills that do not clear even after antibiotic treatment if a bacterial infection had initially been suspected.

When to See a Healthcare Provider   

If you experience any yeast infection symptoms, you should see a healthcare provider for treatment. Seeing a healthcare provider is especially necessary if you get yeast infections frequently, if you have never had a yeast infection, or if you are pregnant. If you also develop a fever and chills, see your healthcare provider immediately. 

Over-the-counter antifungal treatments are available for some yeast infections. However, diagnosing yourself with a yeast infection can be risky if your symptoms are actually due to another condition. For instance, vaginal and penile yeast infection symptoms—like unusual discharge, pain, and itching—can mimic conditions like urinary tract infections or sexually transmitted infections. 

If you do take OTC antifungals when you don't have a yeast infection, they won't effectively treat your symptoms. Over time, this can also make your body more resistant to yeast infection treatments. Some yeast infections may also require prescription oral or topical antifungals.

A healthcare provider can help identify the condition causing your symptoms and provide the correct treatment needed.

A Quick Review 

Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of naturally-occurring yeast on or in the body and can affect the skin, genitals, mouth, and other internal parts of the body. The most common yeast infection symptoms are itching and red skin. However, yeast infection symptoms can vary depending on where the infection is. Folks with vaginal yeast infections may experience additional symptoms like thick, white discharge and pain during sex and urinating. People with oral thrush (yeast infection in the mouth and throat) often experience white patches inside the mouth and won’t have the typical symptoms. 

If you have any yeast infection symptoms, see your healthcare provider. 

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