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Yeast infections usually result from an overgrowth of a species of fungus called Candida albicans. They can occur on the skin, under nails or mucous membranes of the mouth, vagina, bronchi, and lungs.
Vaginal yeast infections are one of the most common reasons that women consult healthcare professionals.
Yeast infections are a type of vaginitis. The hallmark symptom of a yeast infection is itching of the external and internal genitalia, which is often associated with a white discharge that can be thick and/or curdy (like cottage cheese). Severe infections lead to inflammation of the tissue and subsequent redness, swelling, and even pinpoint bleeding.
According to one study, yeast infections are three times more common in women who wear nylon underwear or tights, than in those who wear cotton underwear.1 Additional predisposing factors for Candida infection include the use of antibiotics, oral contraceptives, or adrenal corticosteroids (such as prednisone).
Underlying health conditions that may predispose someone to Candida overgrowth include pregnancy, diabetes, and HIV infection. Allergies have also been reported to promote the development of recurrent yeast vaginitis. In a preliminary trial, when the allergens were avoided and the allergies treated, the chronic recurrent yeast infections frequently resolved.2 In most cases, sexual transmission does not play a role in yeast infection. However, in persistent cases, sexual transmission should be considered, and the sexual partner should be examined and treated.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.