Overgrowth of yeast can affect the skin (yeast rash), mouth (thrush), digestive tract, esophagus, vagina, and other parts of the body. Yeast infections, also known as candidiasis, occur most frequently in moist areas of the body.
Although Candida albicans and other Candida yeasts are the most common forms that can cause infections, other types of yeast are also known to cause infection and disease in various immunocompromised patients.
Epidemiology of Yeast Infections
Oral candidiasis is the most common fungal infection of the mouth. It also represents one of the most common opportunistic oral infections in humans.
Esophageal candidiasis is another common infection. This esophageal infection is most common in AIDS patients, which represents more than 50% of all the esophageal infections. More than 66% of the AIDS patients suffer from esophageal candidiasis and oral candidiasis.
Causes of Yeast Infection
A weakened or undeveloped immune system or metabolic illness such as diabetes is a significant predisposing factor for candidiasis. Various diseases or conditions, including steroids, stress, cancer treatments, HIV/AIDS, mononucleosis, and nutrient deficiencies are potential causes of a yeast infection.
People with weakened immune systems often develop a systemic illness caused by Candida species. In more severe cases, these topical infections, including skin or mucous membrane infections, may enter into the bloodstream and cause systemic Candida infections inside the body.
Symptoms of a Yeast Infection
Symptoms of a yeast infection depend on the area that’s affected. Most of them result in minimal complications such as itching, redness, and discomfort. Certain complications may be severe or even fatal if left untreated.
In an immunocompetent patient, the infection is usually a very localized infection of the skin or mucosal membranes, including the gastrointestinal tract, oral cavity (thrush), urinary bladder, pharynx or esophagus, the fingernails or toenails and the genitalia (vagina, penis).
Diagnosis of Yeast Infections
For the diagnosis of a yeast infection, a sample of the discharge is cultured and is examined under a microscope for the identification of yeast and to help rule out other causes such as bacterial vaginosis or sexually-transmitted pathogens. Other ways of diagnosing yeast infections might include:
- Light Microscopy: In this procedure, a swab or scraping of the infected area is placed on the microscope slide. A drop of 10% potassium hydroxide (KOH) solution is then added to the sample. The skin is dissolved by KOH, however, Candida cells remain intact. This allows the optimum visualization of the pseudohyphae and budding yeast cells, which are typical of the Candida.
- Culturing Method: In this method, the affected skin is rubbed with a sterile swab. The swab, along with the skin, is streaked on the culture medium, which is incubated at 37°C for several days. The allows the development of yeast or bacterial colonies. The characteristics (such as morphology and color) of the colonies may allow initial diagnosis of the organism causing disease symptoms.
Treatments for Yeast Infections
The treatment of Candidiasis usually involves antimycotics. These antifungal drugs include topical clotrimazole, topical nystatin, fluconazole, and topical ketoconazole.
Alternative Treatments and Natural Remedies for Yeast Infections
Some practitioners have promoted the conditions of various yeast-related complexes like yeast syndrome, yeast allergy, yeast overgrowth etc. and have sold dietary supplements as possible remedies. Some of the most common natural remedies include:
- Boric Acid
Various studies have demonstrated that application of boric acid on the affected region is effective in reducing symptoms and destroying the pathogen and various other nonalbicans species.
Lactobacillus present in yogurt has been found to play a critical role in managing infection and the associated symptoms.
Owing to its antifungal properties, garlic is one of the most common and easily available alternative treatment strategies for yeast infections.
Prognosis of Yeast Infections
Among individuals that are treated in intensive care units, the mortality rate associated with systematic candidiasis ranges from 30–50% in some patients.
If you happen to experience the previously mentioned symptoms, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or your gynecologist immediately. If you decide to use an alternative form of medicine as opposed to conventional medications, speak to your doctor first to make sure using a natural treatment is beneficial for you.
How long do yeast infections last?
Mild yeast infections clear up in as little as three days. Sometimes they don’t require treatment, but moderate to severe infections might take one to two weeks to clear up and need prescribed medication.
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