Yeast is a fungus capable of growing anywhere in the body. Once an overgrowth of this yeast occurs, a person is said to have a yeast infection. Yeast, often called Candida, has over 20 different types and species. Each is found in the human body. The fungi live under the skin of the body. When exposed to a moist, warm environment, they grow and multiply. Once this occurs, a person is said to have a yeast infection. The most common types of yeast infections in NYC and around the world are:
- oral yeast infections, called thrush
- diaper rash
- skin infections
- infections of the toenails and fingernails
- vaginal yeast infections
In some extreme cases, yeast infections can spread throughout the body, affecting all areas. In these rare cases, the yeast infection enters the bloodstream and affects the internal organs. Chronic yeast infections weaken the immune system of the body. They may also be signs of other diseases, such as diabetes or leukemia.
Symptoms of a Yeast Infection
Symptoms of a yeast infection vary, depending on what portion of the body is infected.
Oral yeast infections, called thrush, are characterized by a patches of white "curds" on the roof of the mouth or tongue. These patches often look as if milk has built up. However, they cannot be wiped away. Thrush makes it difficult and painful to swallow. It often results in dehydration.
Diaper rash and skin infections are characterized by a build-up of red, raised bumps. Diaper rash is found on the buttocks. Skin yeast infections are usually found in the armpits, under the breasts or anywhere else where skin may rest on top of skin.
Yeast infections of the fingernails and toenails are characterized by thick, yellow nails. The skin underneath the nails, called the nail bed, may often erupt in sores or may peel back from the nails.
Vaginal yeast infections are characterized by a thick yellowish-white discharge from the vagina. Vaginal yeast infections are also characterized by an intense burning and itching.
Causes of a Yeast Infection
A yeast infection is caused by the overgrowth of naturally occurring yeast within the body. This overgrowth can be triggered by:
- A poor or lowered immune system. A poor or lowered immune system is the leading cause of a yeast infection in both men and women.
- A diet high in processed foods or refined sugars can lead to a yeast infection.
- Use of prescription medications, most notably antibiotics. Antibiotics often cause yeast to multiply rapidly. Cortisone and other steroid-based medications also lead to yeast infections.
- Stress and other environmental factors lead to yeast infections. Environmental factors include pollution, lack of sleep and being overworked.
- The use of perfumed bubble baths or laundry detergent can lead to yeast infections.
It has been found those who live in larger cities suffer from more occurrences of yeast infections. This is thought to be contributed to environmental factors. These environmental factors lead to a poor diet and a lowered immune system. Many of those residing in New York City seek yeast infection therapies in NYC due to yeast infections can be caused by stress and pollution.
Yeast Infections in Women
Women often suffer from vaginal yeast infections. Wearing underwear made of material other than 100 percent cotton, taking oral contraceptives, soaking in bubble baths, a poor diet or one rich in refined sugars, all lead to vaginal yeast infections. Women may also suffer from yeast infections under the breasts. These are caused by the breasts resting against the skin, resulting in a warm, moist environment.
Women are also prone to suffer from yeast infections of the toenails and fingernails. Women who visit nail salons regularly, and have manicures and pedicures performed are more likely to get a yeast infection of the nails. Many nail salons do not properly sterilize their equipment. Improperly sterilized equipment spreads yeast infections from one customer to another.
Yeast Infections in Men
The same Candida overgrowth leading to vaginal yeast infections in females, leads to penile yeast infections in men. Although male penile yeast infections are rare, they do occur in about 20 percent of males at least once within their lifetime. The penile yeast infection occurs under the foreskin. It is characterized by a foul-smelling white build-up. Extreme itching and burning of the foreskin also occurs. Male penile yeast infections are caused by two factors:
- Sexual intercourse with a female who is suffering from a vaginal yeast infection.
- Using condoms containing the spermicide nonxynol-9. This spermicide has been proven to cause penile yeast infections.
An intensive course of antibiotics or medications containing cortisone or other steroids also leads to yeast infections in men. However, most male yeast infections occur in the armpits or in the creases of the thigh and legs. Men are also prone to yeast infections of the feet, called athletes foot.
Yeast Infections and Pregnancy
During pregnancy, yeast infections, especially vaginal yeast infections, seem to multiply. This is because the surge of hormones within the body causes the yeast bacteria to grow faster than usual. Pregnancy can be an uncomfortable time during the best of circumstances. A yeast infection makes it almost unbearable. Having a yeast infection during pregnancy will not harm the baby. However, it makes being pregnant extremely uncomfortable.