What is a Yeast Infection?
The scientific name for yeast is candida. Yeast is a fungus that can live anywhere, including your body. You are attacked by yeast on a quite regular basis, but your immune system efficiently fights it and keeps it under control. But when your immune system is down, yeast can easily multiply inside your body, causing an infection.
Yeast can affect different parts of your body and in different ways too. The different types of yeast infections are-
- Thrush: This is a yeast infection which happens when the yeast-shaped fungus called as Candida Albicans starts to overgrow inside the mouth and the throat
- Esophageal Thrush: This is what happens when thrush reaches the throat, or more specifically, the esophagus. It is the tube-like structure that connects the mouth to the stomach. This infection makes it difficult for you to swallow food items.
- Vaginitis: This is a yeast infection that occurs in the vagina.
- Yeast infection can also occur on your skin, causing itching, irritation, rashes, and redness.
- The yeast infection that happens in your bloodstream can be fatal.
Signs and Symptoms of Yeast Infection
The signs and symptoms of each type of yeast infection are mentioned here. Starting with thrush, the signs and symptoms are as follows:
- White patches the mouth, throat, palate, tongue, and inner cheeks
- Pain in the mouth
The Candida fungus is usually found on your body and skin, but your immune system keeps them in check. When it starts to overgrow, and your immune system can’t fight back, it results into thrush.
When it comes to Esophageal Thrush, however, the signs and symptoms are:
- White lesions found on the lining of the esophagus
- Difficulty in swallowing may even be painful to swallow
- Dry mouth
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Chest pain
- Eventually, it might even lead to weight loss
The signs and symptoms of vaginal yeast infections are:
- Itching in the vagina
- Swelling of the vagina
- Burning sensation during urination and/or sex
- Pain and/or discomfort in the vagina during sex
- Vaginal discharge may be whitish-gray, clumpy, or watery.
Yeast infections can happen on some of the body parts, like on foot. The infected area will be red and itchy. It may turn into rashes, blisters, pustules, cracked skin or you may experience some soreness.
Causes of Yeast Infection
There are several causes of vaginal yeast infection. Some of the factors are:
- Taking antibiotics reduces the number of healthy bacteria that keep the fungus in check and lets it overgrow in the pubic region
- Not changing tampon or pads often can also cause the yeast to overgrow as it breeds is high-moisture environments
- Hormonal imbalance
- A weak immune system, as it can’t keep the fungus in check
- Bad eating habits
- Having high blood sugar
- Lack of sleep
- Physical contact with an infected person
How Long do Yeast Infections Last?
The earlier the infection gets diagnosed and treated, the earlier the symptoms will go away. If the infection is mild, then it may last up to 7 days. If the infection is severe than it may last up to 2 weeks.
Are Yeast Infections Contagious?
Most of the yeast infections are not contagious, but they can be transferred from partner to partner during sex. Since most of these yeast infections are not transferred sexually, they are not considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
Yeast Infections During Pregnancy
It is very common to get a yeast infection during pregnancy as the hormones change the pH levels of the vagina. It is especially common during the 2nd trimester. There are chances that it may go unnoticed as they might be confused with symptoms of pregnancy.
A yeast infection during pregnancy can be caused by several factors like –
- Hormonal changes that come with pregnancy, periods, hormone medication, or birth control pills
- Vaginal intercourse
- High blood sugar
- Blood/semen during intercourse
The reasons why getting a yeast infection is likely during pregnancy is that your immune system is weaker and there are too many changes for your body to keep up with and hence overgrowth of yeast goes unchecked. If you leave the infection untreated, it can spread to your child’s mouth while delivery.
Do not self-diagnose the infection and get an over-the-counter medication for the infection as it is possible that you may have something else like a bacterial vaginosis or an STD. Once you get pregnant or when you decide to start trying to have a baby, consult a doctor and understand all the symptoms and the discomforts that come with pregnancy.
If you experience any other symptom, then make an appointment with your doctor to discuss it. Yeast infections are not that difficult to treat, and neither do they have any significant impact on the pregnancy, but it sure does add a lot of discomfort to an already uncomfortable situation that can be avoided.
Are Yeast Infections Contagious?
Yes. And no. You already have the bacteria that leads to an infection. It only leads to infection when it overgrows, which happens when the immune system is weak. But yeast infections can be transferred between men and women during sex, but that happens very rarely. This is why it is not considered a sexually transmitted disease or an infection as it may not be transferred.
How to Quickly Cure a Yeast Infection at Home?
We will share 5 home remedies for yeast infection that will quickly cure you of the yeast infection.
The natural yogurt contains the good bacteria called probiotics, which can help cure this infection. It has to be unsweetened and non-flavored yogurt though so it’s best that you make some at home. This will ensure that it’s fresh as well. You can apply a layer of yogurt on the vulva of the vagina and also insert some of it into the vagina. Eating yogurt also helps in combating the yeast infection and its symptoms.
2. Coconut Oil
You can buy coconut oil for skin online and warm it up. Adding a few drops of oregano or tea tree oil also helps. Dip your fingers into this warm oil or the mixture, and gently apply it around the vagina and inside it. It has antifungal properties that will fight with the yeasts that caused this infection. It will also relieve the irritation and might reduce the redness of the skin.
3. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a miracle worker for a variety of yeasts and fungi because of its antifungal properties. You will have to buy a suppository with tree tea oil in it and insert it into your vagina. Another option is to apply a fragile layer of this oil on your tampon and inserting it into your vagina.
You can take a spoonful of this oil into a bowl and add a spoon of warm coconut oil in it to dilute. After diluting it, apply it on your tampon. Do not dip the tampon into the bowl. If the tampon has too much of this oil, it will irritate the skin of your vaginal walls and worsen the situation.
Another thing to consider before using this oil is that you may be allergic to it. Do a sample test on your arm. Apply it on your arm and observe for any side effects for at least 12 hours. If there is no reaction, then go ahead with this treatment.
4. Boric Acid
You can get vaginal boric acid capsules to cure the yeast infection efficiently, especially if you keep getting this infection. This is a suppository, however, which means that you have to insert it into your vagina, preferably every day for 2 weeks, for the infection to be completely gone.
Consult your doctor if you are getting any other suppository and for the dosage. It is recommended to take a capsule that has 600 mg of boric acid. This treatment has shown to work 70% of the time and you can completely get rid of this infection with minimal efforts.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Taking a bath in water with apple cider vinegar has proven to be very effective in treating yeast infection. Vinegar will fight off all the bad, harmful bacteria and cure you quickly. But cleansing the vagina with vinegar is not effective as it will kill all the bacteria, even the good ones so that you may get infected with yeasts again.
Take half a cup of apple cider vinegar and pour it into the lukewarm bathwater. Soak in it for half an hour for maximum effect. This is the most relaxing as well as an effective remedy for yeast infections.
Precautions to Avoid Catching Yeast Infections
Below are some of the pointers that you need to keep in mind so as to reduce your chances of getting a yeast infection. They are especially important if you are pregnant as the probability of catching it is high then.
- Wear comfortable and cotton underwear that is not too tight. Make sure the underwear is clean and dry.
- Don’t try to make your vagina smell better by spraying perfume or douching it. Douches are only acceptable for medical reasons when your doctor recommends it.
- Practice good hygiene and keep your genital area clean and dry. Wash the area every day and dry it off properly with a towel. Make sure to clean the area after sexual intercourse. Yeasts and fungi thrive in moist environments. So even after a swim or getting wet, quickly wash and dry off and then change into dry clothes.
- Limit the intake of sugar and processed food.
- Include food items that are probiotic and has antifungal properties like yogurt in your daily diet.