Yeast is a type of fungus with the scientific name Candida. A fungal infection occurring due to yeast is termed as Candidiasis. These infections may be superficial or lead to fatal diseases in patients suffering from AIDS or cancer. While the latter occurs in a minority of people, the former type of infection is more common in a vast number of humans. Superficial yeast infections generally occur on the skin, especially in areas with greater moisture content such as the mouth and vagina. Discomfort and inflammation accompany these kinds of infections. Let’s take a more detailed look into the various yeast infections and their symptoms.
Vaginitis or vaginal irritation is very commonly caused by Candidiasis. However, yeast infection may also occur sometimes on male genitals. While the symptoms of vaginal yeast infection are nonspecific (other conditions could also be attributed to the same symptoms), severe itching in the area of the vagina is taken as the foremost symptom. Burning, redness and soreness especially during urination and pain during sexual intercourse are considered to be the other symptoms. Burning during urination could also be a symptom of Urinary tract infection.
In order to distinguish between the two, the nature of burning must be determined. In the case of vaginal yeast infection, the burning sensation is caused when acidic urine is being passed and comes in contact with the infected skin of the vulva. With urinary tract infection however, burning is present in the tube, before the urine is actually passed out. Another vaginal yeast infection symptom is the presence of thick, whitish vaginal discharge similar in appearance to cottage cheese. In addition, pain in the vulvar area may also be present. Vaginitis is usually treated with antifungal medications that are either applied on the affected area or taken orally.
Candidiasis or Yeast infection may also occur as a localized infection in the mucous membranes of the mouth. This condition is called Oral candidiasis or Thrush and it is known to develop suddenly. In some cases however, it can become chronic and persist for a long time. Oral yeast infection symptoms are lesions inside the mouth – on the tongue or inner cheeks and sometimes on the gums, roof of the mouth, back of the throat or on the tonsils. These lesions are creamy white in color, slightly raised and again, have a cottage cheese-like appearance. They tend to be painful and sometimes bleed when scraped or while brushing teeth. In more severe conditions, lesions may also affect the swallowing tube and esophagus. This results in a feeling that food particles are stuck in the throat, difficulty and pain while swallowing and in some cases, fever.
Intertrigo is another type of superficial skin infection caused by yeast. The candidal organisms live on the surface of the skin but sometimes are successful in breaking down the skin’s outer layers. When this happens, an overgrowth of yeast occurs and leads to infection. This occurs in any part of the body where skin surfaces tend to touch and rub against each other frequently. It also occurs commonly in the moist and warm body areas. Underarms, skin folds near the groin, neck, breasts, in between the toes and also near the abdomen of obese people are some of the areas where yeast infection symptoms are usually found. Some of the symptoms of this condition are reddening, softening and deterioration, itching and burning of the skin. Cracks, erosions and oozing may also be present in such cases.
Most yeast infections need not be treated in a hospital. Depending on the symptoms and the severity, an appropriate treatment plan must be followed. People with a weak immune system are more susceptible to serious yeast infection symptoms and may need hospitalization.