Yeast infection is a fungal infection in the body and the most common kind is caused by the fungus Candida albicans. The fungus Candida is present as a part of the normal microbiological flora over the surface of the skin, in the oral cavity, and in the intestinal tract.
However, when there is an imbalance in the normal flora, the fungal count is increased significantly, which results in infection and specific symptoms associated with it.
Common Sites of Yeast Infection
Yeast skin infections are very common and the yeast typically grows on areas of the skin where moisture and sweat accumulation is more (for example groin fold, armpit, or web spaces of toes and fingers). Thus, the best way to prevent it is to keep the area clean and dry.
The fungus Candida can also cause infection of the oral cavity involving the buccal mucosa and tongue (also known as candidiasis or oral thrush).
It can also cause infection of the mucous membrane of both male and female genitalia.
Causes of Yeast Infection
Exposure to hot and humid weather.
Use of tight/restrictive clothing leading to moisture and sweat accumulation.
Immunocompromised (reduced immunity) state either due to their health condition (like an autoimmune disorder) or due to the use of certain immunosuppressive medications like steroids (topicals or systemic).
Poorly controlled diabetes.
A work environment that involves exposure of an individual to moisture for a prolonged duration.
Symptoms of Yeast Infection
Itching and irritation over the affected area.
Rashes, usually red, itchy, and often associated with scaling/chafing.
Oral cavity patches, thickened, reddish or whitish, may be seen over the tongue or buccal mucosa of the oral cavity.
Female patients may experience white discharge from the vaginal area along with itching, whereas male patients may experience white patches and red rashes over the penis along with cuts over the tip of the foreskin tip.
Those experiencing these symptoms should seek the opinion of an expert dermatologist for proper assessment and diagnosis of the condition.
Diagnosis of Yeast Infection
A scraping from the affected area is taken and assessed on a KOH mount (a simple microbiological lab test) under the microscope which will show the presence of yeast.
Alternatively, a sample of the affected area can be sent for fungal culture along with the drug sensitivity if required. This would be a confirmatory test for the assessment of the problem.
Treatment For Yeast Infection
The affected area should be kept dry to avoid excess moisture accumulation.
Antifungal treatment would be needed to adequately control the infection. Based on the extent and severity, the choice of treatment is either topical or systemic antifungals. The various systemic antifungals that have been used for fungal infection are amphotericin B, itraconazole, and ketoconazole. Creams containing miconazole, luliconazole, ketoconazole etc. may be used for treatment.
Yeast infections are common but prompt treatment can help promptly reduce the symptoms. If you have recurring yeast infections that last longer than 2 months, consult a dermatologist.
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