When you hear the term yeast infection, you may think of vaginal itchiness. But that’s not the only body part that can get a yeast infection. Yeast can infect anyone and at any age.
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Where Can You Get a Yeast Infection?
Yeast, or candida, is a fungus found everywhere in nature and on the body. The medical term for most yeast infections is candidiasis. Most of the time, your immune system controls yeast, so you don’t develop candidiasis.
Under certain conditions, candida can multiply and grow, causing an infection. The most common reasons you may get a yeast infection include being sick, having a compromised immune system, or taking antibiotics.
Yeast lives in warm, moist locations. Common areas where yeast infections can develop on or in your body include:
- Your skin.
- Your mouth and esophagus.
- Your vagina.
- Your blood.
- Your urine.
Yeast infections of the skin
You can get yeast infections on the skin. Yeast can cause the skin to be painful, itchy, or burn. It shows up as a red rash or scales and may swell.
Common locations to develop skin candidiasis include:
- The groin area.
- In the armpits.
- Spaces between the fingers and toes.
- Under the breasts.
- Skinfolds on the abdomen.
- On the nail folds or cuticles. Known as candidal paronychia, this causes painful redness and swelling around your nails. Left untreated, it can cause your nails to turn white or yellow and separate from your nailbed. “This causes a
condition called onychomycosis, which can be difficult to treat. Therefore,
early treatment is important,” says Alexandra Potock, of Northern Medical Associates-UPMC.
- On an uncircumcised penis. Men can also get candidiasis on the head of their penis. It’s more likely if they have diabetes or if their sexual partner has a vaginal yeast infection. Penile candidiasis can cause a red, raw, itching, burning, or painful rash.
Several conditions can increase the likelihood of a yeast infection on the skin. This includes:
- Hot, humid weather.
- Poor hygiene.
- Wearing tight, synthetic underwear.
- Not changing diapers, exercise clothes, or undergarments often enough.
- Babies and older adults may develop candidiasis if they have wet diapers and underwear on for too long. They may develop a diaper rash because of the yeast infection.
- Having other skin disorders, such as psoriasis.
- Being pregnant or obese may increase the areas of overlapping folds of skin and weaken the immune system.
Yeast in and around the mouth.
A small amount of yeast usually lives in your mouth. Candida albicans is the most common yeast found in your mouth. A healthy immune system and good bacteria typically keep it under control.
You can develop several types of yeast infections in and around your mouth.
Thrush, also called oral candidiasis, is the most common yeast infection in the mouth. It causes creamy white patches on the tongue and mouth lining. These patches can bleed when scraped off.
Sometimes thrush can spread to the esophagus — the tube where food travels from the mouth to the stomach. Doctors call this candida esophagitis. When this happens, it can be painful or hard to swallow.
Who gets thrush?
It’s common for newborn babies and infants to get thrush. Babies can get thrush for several reasons:
- They can pick up vaginal yeast as they pass through the birth canal.
- Their immune system isn’t fully formed. This makes it easier for the yeast to multiply.
- It can be harder to fight off thrush if they are on antibiotics to treat a bacterial infection. Antibiotics kill harmful bacteria. But they also kill the good bacteria that usually keep fungus from growing.
- Their mom is taking antibiotics. Moms can pass thrush to their babies during breastfeeding.
Thrush is also common in the very old and among people who have HIV/AIDS.
People with asthma may get thrush from taking rescue inhalers containing corticosteroids or oral steroids.
People prone to thrush may also be at risk of yeast infection of the skin, known as chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis. It causes red, pus-filled, crusted, thickened areas resembling psoriasis. They can get this anywhere on the body, but the nose and forehead are the most common areas.
Candidiasis can also develop just in the corners of the mouth. Doctors call this perlèche or angular cheilitis. Several things can cause perleche, including:
- Constant lip licking.
- Thumb sucking.
- Dentures that don’t fit well.
- Conditions that keep the corners of your mouth moist.
Yeast in and around the vagina
One of the most common yeast infections for women is a vaginal yeast infection — known as vaginitis. Common symptoms of vaginitis include:
- Thick white or yellow discharge from the vagina. It often looks like cottage cheese. It can be odor free or have a distinct smell. Other vaginal infections can cause a foul smell, but vaginitis typically does not.
- Burning, itching, redness, and swelling of the vagina and the skin around it, known as the vulva.
- Pain when urinating.
- Pain during sex.
Three out of four women will have vaginitis at least once during their lifetime. That’s according to the Office on Women’s Health. People are more likely to get vaginitis if they:
- Are pregnant.
- Have diabetes that is not under control.
- Are taking or recently took antibiotics or steroid medicines.
- Use hormonal birth control with higher doses of estrogen.
- Use vaginal hygiene sprays or douche.
- Have a weakened immune system.
Vaginitis isn’t a sexually transmitted disease. But if your sexual partner has a yeast infection, they can pass it on during sex.
Yeast in the blood
You can also get a yeast infection in your bloodstream. These yeast infections can be life-threatening.
Can You Prevent Yeast Infections?
Since antibiotic use is a major cause of yeast infections, only take antibiotics when needed.
Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections, such as strep and bacterial pneumonia. Don’t take antibiotics for viral infections, such as the flu. They won’t help and can increase your yeast infection risk.
If you need an antibiotic to treat a bacterial infection, talk to your doctor about preventing a yeast infection. They may recommend you take a certain type of probiotic.
When To See A Doctor
“It is important to speak with your doctor in a timely manner if you have symptoms of a yeast infection to ensure a correct diagnosis and treatment plan,” says Dr. Potock. Some yeast infections may look like other medical conditions. Your doctor can help determine what’s causing your symptoms and check that nothing else is wrong.
They will take a sample of any discharge to test for candida. Your doctor may prescribe antifungal creams, suppositories, and oral medications to treat your yeast infection.
If you are prone to yeast infections, your doctor may run other tests to figure out why. In some cases, frequent yeast infections indicate a severe health issue.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .
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