A yeast infection, also called a fungal infection, is a medical condition caused by an overgrowth of yeast. This type of infection can affect a number of areas in the human body, but the best known areas include the skin, nails, mouth (oral thrush) and vagina (vaginitis). In rare cases, usually in patients with a weakened immune system, the infection can spread to the whole body and be life threatening. The symptoms of yeast infection depend entirely on where the infection is located although, itching, a burning sensation, redness and/or other discomfort may be present. Let’s find out what causes these infections and how they can be treated.
What causes yeast infections?
The majority of yeast infections are caused by a species of yeasts known as Candida. The most common type that causes yeast infections in humans is Candida albicans. This yeast can be found naturally in the human mouth and digestive system and rarely becomes a problem. In fact, it is estimated that 80% of the population carry this yeast without any negative effects. The yeast is usually kept under control by other microorganisms in the gut flora. However, an overgrowth of this yeast can cause a number of conditions.
In most cases a yeast infection is treated with antifungal drugs, such as fluconazole and nystatin. For skin infections antifungal creams are used and oral rinses are sometimes used for thrush. Candida albicans has been known to develop resistance to these treatments, which means that reoccurring infections are usually treated with alternative drugs.
Did you know?
It is estimated that 19% of women carry Candida albicans in their vagina without any negative effects. Microorganisms in the virginal flora keep the yeast under control. However, if the virginal flora is disrupted then an infection is likely to develop. It is important to remember that vaginal infections can also be caused by bacteria, which means that proper diagnosis should take place before treatment occurs.