Think you, or your child, could have a yeast infection? They’re common in warm, moist areas of the body. The vagina, mouth, or even skin may be infected. Ouch! The different symptoms require different treatments, depending on where you feel discomfort.
You might hear doctors call these infections “Candidiasis” after the 20 species of Candida yeasts that can bother humans. To understand where and why yeast grows in our bodies and ways to solve the problems, read on.
Vaginal yeast infections
While yeast regularly lives inside the body without causing trouble, it can multiply and cause infection for many women. In fact, vaginal yeast infections affect up to 3 out of 4 women at some point during their lives.* You might have a yeast infection if you have irritation, discharge, and intense itchiness in and around your vagina. There can be redness and swelling, burning, or a rash. There could also be pain during sex or while urinating.
The balance of organisms in your vagina can be thrown off by taking antibiotics or birth control pills, pregnancy, diabetes, being overweight or even by wearing tight underwear in the summer. These infections occur more often in people with weakened immune systems.
Once a doctor diagnoses a vaginal yeast infection, he’ll likely recommend an anti-yeast oral medicine or a vaginal cream or suppository. These work well to improve symptoms and fight the fungus. But confirming you have a yeast infection, not a bacterial one, is the first step in finding relief.
Yeast in babies
Oral thrush happens when fungus multiplies in the mouth or on the tongue, most commonly in babies. Again, Candida is not abnormal, but when it overgrows, we see symptoms. These usually look like white spots or patches. The gums, tongue, or back of the throat can also be infected. Thrush can cause some discomfort and fussiness, but isn’t very painful for your baby. Doctors usually recommend an anti-fungal treatment called Nystatin, drops you administer in your baby’s mouth through the day. Diflucan is also a common thrush prescription. Grapefruit seed extract and Gentian violet are other alternative treatments.
The most concerning part of thrush is that the infection can be passed back and forth between mom and baby during breastfeeding. Nipples can become blistered, puffy, flaky or weepy, and very sore during feedings. Severe stinging or burning pain during or right after baby has eaten could signal you have a thrush infection. If you have this sensation, check your baby’s mouth for symptoms. Next, seek treatment by a doctor,
because yeast infections can cause milk supply to drop, or lead to worse problems like plugged milk ducts and mastitis (a painful breast infection).
Nystatin is also used to treat the mom side of the equation in the form of a cream. Some women also try cleaning the nipple area before and after feedings with diluted vinegar on a washcloth. Similarly, moms can try to wipe out her baby’s mouth with a clean washcloth after each feeding. Since yeast feeds on sugar, these cleaning methods prevent milk residue that could make the condition worse.
Yeast can also grow on your baby’s sensitive skin in the diaper area. The constant irritation of wetness, the chemicals in dirty diapers, combined with the rubbing of the diaper is a triple threat for infection. Diaper rash is common, and yeast can make the problem worse. Yeast infections will look red or bright pink and scaly. There may be small raised red spots that are especially sore, covering a wide area including the genitalia. Typical diaper rash treatments actually make this condition worse for your baby. Clotrimazole or Nystatin can bring relief.
Yeast, when out of control, can be bad for business! Keep an eye on symptoms and stay on top of the doctor’s treatment to-do’s so the infection heals. Teladoc family doctors are here for you 24 hours, 7 days a week, for diagnosis and treatment of these issues.
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