Yeast infection, or vaginal candidiasis, is a common cause of vaginal infections in women, affecting one million women annually. All forms of candidiasis are infections caused by a yeast called Candida albicans. Candida is normally found in virtually all normal people but causes problems and infections in only small cases. We are seeing candidiasis more frequently now due to overuse of antibiotics, increase in incidence of AIDS, and use of organ transplantations, and devices like catheters, artificial valves and joints, all of which increase infection risks. Candidiasis can cause infections of vaginal canal, mouth, deep organs, and sometimes widespread infection of the bloodstream. It is also the yeast infection that causes diaper rashes in babies.
What causes it?
Vaginal canal naturally contains a balanced mix of yeast, including candida, and bacteria. Lactobacillus, a bacterial species found in dairy, prevents overgrowth of yeast. This balance is disrupted from antibiotic use, which cause bacterial and yeast imbalance, in states of increased estrogen as in pregnancy and during use of oral contraceptives and hormone therapy, in individuals with poorly controlled diabetes, and in those with weakened immune system.
This is a common cause of vaginal infections in women, affecting one million women annually
What are the symptoms?
It is a very common vaginal yeast infection that affects up to 75% of all women at some point in their lifetime. It presents with white, thick, odor-free vaginal discharge with cottage-cheese appearance. It causes swelling, irritation, pain, soreness, watery vaginal discharge and intense itchiness of the vagina and the vulva. Some may experience a burning sensation during urination and intercourse. A vaginal yeast infection is not a sexually transmitted disease, but there is increased risk of acquiring it during initial regular sexual activity. Some infections may be due to to mouth to genital contact (oral-genital sex).
What is the treatment?
Treatment of yeast infections is aimed at killing the yeast that is causing the infections. Usually, over the counter medications like creams, suppositories and tablets that are inserted into the vagina or applied on the vulva. Your doctor can also prescribe a pill that you swallow or with medicines that you put in the vagina and on the vulva.
For complicated yeast infections that present with four or more episodes within a year, with severe signs and symptoms causing cracks and sores, infections in pregnant females or in individuals with poorly controlled diabetes, weakened immune system from medications or other diseases and infections, a longer treatment course may be needed.
Talk to your dermatologist for yeast infections that are not responding to over the counter treatment options or if you have diabetes, weakened immune system from medical conditions, AIDS or from medications, are pregnant, or have devices like catheters and tubes.