Yeast infections are very common in women – about 75% of women will have at least one yeast infection in their lifetime. But men and babies can get yeast infections too. If you have a yeast infection, you may be wondering ‘what is the most effective yeast infection treatment’?
They can occur anywhere in the body, particularly anywhere that is moist and warm. The most common areas are the vagina and penis, the mouth, under dentures, or in skin folds. In babies, the most common areas of yeast overgrowth are the mouth (commonly known as thrush) and diaper area (a diaper rash may be related to yeast overgrowth).
A yeast infection is caused by an overgrowth of yeast upsetting the balance of good versus bad bacteria. The most common yeast responsible for yeast infection is called Candida Albicans. Candida skin infections appear as a red flat rash with sharp scalloped edges. These rashes may cause intense itching or pain.
Yeast infections are rarely dangerous but they can be dangerous for people with a lowered immune system because the infection may enter the blood stream and become systemic.
Yeast Infection Symptoms & Causes
If your immune system is strong, a yeast infection will not cause any serious harm, but yeast infections can be very uncomfortable.
In women, yeast infections are the second most common reason for vaginal burning, itching and a thick, white discharge with the texture of cottage cheese.
Men can experience penile itching, burning and a rash, but will not usually experience any discharge.
In babies, thrush can be recognized by thick, white lacey patches on the tongue or anywhere inside the mouth. Thrush can be painful and your baby may refuse to eat, causing him or her to become dehydrated. A diaper rash that’s difficult to get rid of may be very uncomfortable and could also be caused by yeast.
The most common reason for yeast infection is antibiotics or steroid use, but diseases such as diabetes, cancer or AIDs also increase the risk of yeast infection. So does pregnancy, menstruation, menopause, sperm and the birth control pill.
Yeast Infection Treatment
There are several over-the-counter treatments for yeast infection in women, which should cure a vaginal yeast infection within about a week. These topical creams can also be used for yeast-related skin infections and diaper rashes.
If the yeast infection is not cleared up within a week or two, or you have a weakened immune system, are elderly or very young, you should see a doctor. Your doctor can prescribe a wide variety of options including creams, lotions, pills, lozenges and vaginal suppositories. An antifungal called Nystatin can be applied to the skin or swished around in the mouth to cure thrush. Doctors reserve another antifungal called amphotericin B for more serious systemic fungal infections.
If you’re a woman, you probably can’t avoid a yeast infection completely, and many men and babies get yeast infections as well. Here are a few tips to help avoid yeast infection and clear it up faster if you get one:
- Avoid antibiotics, steroids and the birth control pill
- Avoid sexual contact if you have a yeast infection (although yeast infection is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, it can be passed from one partner to another during intimacy)
- Loose cotton underwear or no underwear at all
- Avoid pantyhose and tight pants
- Bathe instead of showering
- Wipe front to back after using the toilet
- Avoid sugary foods and eat plenty of yogurt
- Take supplements to boost the immune system and probiotics to populate your system with good bacteria