It might be a little unsettling to think about, but loads of yeast, fungi, and bacteria live and thrive in the human body. In a healthy body, bacteria and yeast known as candida are essential to proper biological function. However, if there are disturbances or imbalances in the body, candida can get out of control and may develop into infections.
These fungal infections are caused by an overproduction of yeast and this condition is known as candidiasis. This is a rather common health condition and can often be easily treated when diagnosed early with a simple medical multitest swab. Here are a few tips for recognizing, treating, and preventing common yeast infections.
Types of Yeast Infections, Symptoms and Treatments
Because yeast is prevalent and ever-present in the entire body, a yeast infection can manifest on the skin, mouth, nails, or genitalia. While some varieties of candidiasis are more common than others, any outbreak of candida can pose roadblocks on the path to experiencing optimal health. Here are the most common types of yeast infections and treatments.
Oral Candidiasis: This form of yeast infection occurs in the mouth and is known as oral thrush. Symptoms of oral thrush include sore throat, trouble swallowing, or painful tongue lesions. Oral thrush also develops bumps and white or yellowish patches on the gums, throat, inner cheeks, and tongue. While these symptoms are disturbing, the condition is usually treated easily with an oral antifungal medication. Oral thrush can be a side-effect of HIV, diabetes, or certain cancers. Other causes of this condition are attributed to smoking and/or using inhalers for asthma.
Vaginal Yeast Infections: Most women are familiar with this form of candidiasis. In fact, 75% of women experience at least one yeast infection in their lifetime. Symptoms manifested from this type of infection include vaginal redness, soreness, burning, itching, and/or irregular discharges. Reasons women may encounter vaginal candidiasis include using the wrong types of lubricants, pregnancy, taking certain medications, or wearing tight undergarments that trap excess moisture causing yeast outbreaks. Typical treatments range from taking antifungal agents in the form of ointments, creams, or oral medication prescribed by a doctor.
Finger and Toenail Infections: While this condition is relatively uncommon and usually painless, it can be aesthetically unappealing due to unsightly nail discoloration. Aside from nails turning brown or yellow, other symptoms of nail yeast infections include brittle, cracking nails. These infections tend to subside in their own time, but treatments include topical and oral antifungal medicines. In rare cases, the nail may need to be removed. Yeast infections in nails are more common in toenails because it is a moist environment that entices yeast to grow. Nail candidiasis may also be contracted from unhygienic practices while getting pedicures or manicures. Be sure your nail practitioner is using sterilized tools and all areas are properly disinfected to avoid this yeast-related infection.
Skin Infections: Also known as topical candida, yeast infections of the skin occur when there is an excessive surge of candida on the skin which manifests uncomfortable rashes. Other symptoms of topical candida include redness of the skin, swelling, itching, or scaly patches. These rashes usually crop up in moist areas of the body such as armpits, behind the knees, elbow creases, and other folds in the skin. Treatment for this condition is a topical antifungal as well as keeping these areas dry and aerated. Causes of skin yeast infections are connected with the skin exposed to overly moist and hot conditions, poor hygiene, compromised immune systems, diabetes, and/or alcoholism.
Tips to Preventing Yeast Infections and Closing Thoughts About Candidiasis
While every case of candidiasis is different, there are some standard steps of prevention you can take that will help you avoid or manage yeast infections. Here are a few preventative tips if you are concerned about contracting a case of candidiasis.
Keep Your Body Dry and Clean: Certain areas of the body are naturally warm and moist and this is a breeding ground for yeast to overgrow and bloom into infections. Wear clothing that is loose and breathable, consider moisture-wicking clothing as well. If you live in a warm, humid climate, try to keep yourself as dry and cool as possible. If you’re prone to frequent sweating, change your undergarments and clothes regularly. These simple steps can make a big impact in helping you avoid skin and vaginal yeast infections.
Avoid Bad Lifestyle Habits: Bad habits such as excessive alcohol consumption, chewing tobacco, or smoking are open invitations for yeast outbreaks and infections. Even your diet can play a huge role in the levels of yeast in your body. Your best bet for dodging yeast infections is maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regime. This includes steering clear from known harmful habits that thwart your best success at maximum health.
Talk to Your Doctor: When in doubt, always contact your doctor. Some yeast infections may arise from certain medications you are taking. If that is the case, your physician can assist you in determining your next steps to clear and cure a candidiasis outbreak. Your primary physician can also help you with further preventative tips as well as prescribe medicines that will contribute to your overall wellness.
At the end of the day, yeast infections are preventable. Knowing what precautions to take to avoid candida outbreaks is your first step towards keeping your yeast levels in check. Follow these tips and listen to your healthcare provider to keep yourself healthy and happy today and far into the future.