VAGINAL YEAST INFECTION (CANDIDIASIS) PART 1
Candidiasis is an infection caused by yeast (a type of fungus) called Candida. Candida albicans is a microscopic organism that lives on the skin uninterrupted. This organism can be found on our skin, in our mouths, in our gastrointestinal tracts (guts), the penis in men and in the vaginal canal in women.
Candidiasis that affects the mouth is also known as thrush and these appear as white patches on the tongue, throat, and other regions of the mouth. Other signs and symptoms of thrush include soreness and difficulty swallowing. If it occurs in the vaginal area, it is called vaginal yeast infection or vaginal candidiasis. The yeast might multiply excessively when the environment within a body region favors fungal growth, producing pain and irritation. Candidiasis can cause skin problems on the external surface of the skin as well as the vagina, penis, and mouth.
Candidiasis may negatively affect the bloodstream as well as internal organs like the liver and spleen. The skin, oral, and vaginal infections are the most common issues. Though these infections can be bothersome but they are not life threatening.
WHAT IS VAGINAL YEAST INFECTION?
Vaginal yeast infection, also known as vaginal candidiasis is a common fungal infection that leads to discharge, inflammation, and severe itching in the vagina and tissues that line the vaginal entrance (vulva). A yeast infection in the vaginal canal is not a sexually transmitted infection. However, regular sexual activity may increase the risk of vaginal yeast infection. Research suggests that this infection may also be associated to oral-genital sex.
These infections are caused by candida, a fungal organism (yeast) that already exists in your body. Candida is a type of yeast that belongs to the fungus family. When the body immune system cannot fight candida infections, it can cause a lot of problems but when this yeast is balanced with the body, there are no issues. The yeast multiplies quickly and leads to yeast infection when the immune system is disrupted. Vaginal yeast infections can be effectively treated with medications.
Four or more yeast infections in a year in the same person requires treatment for a longer period of time.
Most vaginal yeast infections are caused by the fungus ‘Candida albicans’. The vaginal environment consists of a healthy balance of bacteria and yeast, including candida. This is necessary as certain good bacteria like lactobacillus helps to prevent yeast overgrowth. When this balance is disrupted, the candida yeast overgrows and this fungal infection may penetrate deeper into the vaginal cell walls leading to the signs and symptoms of a yeast infection.
Candida is not contagious because the yeast is already present and lives in the body. A number of factors can contribute to the overgrowth of yeast. Most common causes of candida overgrowth are:
The use of antibiotic drug to treat infections such as a urinary tract infection (UTI). In the process of treating infections such as UTI, the beneficial bacteria that maintain yeast balance in the vaginal canal are also eliminated while treating an infection.
Pregnancy causes an increase in the level of estrogen thereby increasing the risk of yeast infections as a result of fluctuated hormones.
The use of birth control or contraceptives may also cause a fluctuation in hormones. These changes in hormones disrupt the balance of candida growth in the vaginal canal, hence, increased yeast infection.
Uncontrolled diabetes breeds the growth of yeast infection because poorly controlled blood sugar leads to the presence of excess sugar in the urine. Hence, an increased growth of candida yeasts in the vaginal environment.
An impaired immune system weakened by steroids or cancer medication may allow yeast to thrive. Candida albicans or thrush (infections of the mouth) is most common in patients who have cancer or AIDS.
Obesity is one factor that promotes yeast growth. Yeast grows in moist region and areas where skin contacts skin. People who are overweight have more folds in their skin. They also tend to sweat more, creating a damp environment for Candida albicans to thrive.
Hot weather, poor hygiene, and tight clothing are all risk factors because they promote the ideal environment for increased yeast infection.
Symptoms of a yeast infection can range from mild to severe. These includes:
• Vaginal pain and soreness.
• Rashes on the vagina.
• Watery vaginal discharge.
• A well-defined patch of red, itchy skin that is frequently leaking fluid. The fluid is a thick, white, clumpy substance with little or no odor. Around the rash’s edge, scabs and pus may appear. The groin, the folds of the buttocks, between the breasts, toes, or fingers, and the navel are all common places to find it.
• Burning feeling during urination.
• Pain or discomfort during sex.
• Small cuts or cracks in the skin of the vulva because of dry skin in the area.
Redness and swelling of the vulva. Yeast infections in the penis are rare, although they can cause redness, swelling, and pain at the tip of the penis…….………………………………..…….