Yeast infection occurs when the Candida fungi that live in your body suddenly overpower your good bacteria. It's possible to get yeast infection via sexual intercourse as well, but it's not considered to be a true sexually transmitted disease. That's because men and women of all ages (and even infants) may get yeast infection.
Vaginal Yeast Infection
Typically, yeast infections in females have mild to moderate symptoms in the vaginal area, which include:
• Rashes, pain and soreness
• Burning sensation or pain during sexual intercourse
• Pain during urination
• Vaginal discharge that is odorless and white-gray in color
In rare circumstances, women may develop "complicated yeast infection," a more severe form of vaginal yeast infection. It is mainly characterized by a recurring yeast infection of at least four times within a year, and the symptoms more amplified. Itching is more severe, and excessive scratching can lead to tears, cracks or sores in the vaginal area.
Typically, the cause of complicated yeast infection is an uncommon strain of the Candida species. Those who have high blood sugar levels due to uncontrolled diabetes are more susceptible as well. A weakened immune system will also leave you more open to complicated yeast infection.
Yeast Infection in Males
The two types of yeast infection in males are candidal balanitis and candidal balanophosthitis. The first one refers to inflammation of a circumcised penis, and the second one refers to an uncircumcised penis. Common symptoms of candida balantis include:
• Redness and swelling
• Burning and itching around the glans (the head of the penis)
• Small, rash-like bumps that may contains pus (papules)
• Shiny, white patches of skin on the glans
• Irritation and soreness
In candidal balanophostis, the foreskin may develop an unpleasant odor accompanied by a thick, lumpy discharge. You may also experience phimosis, a condition wherein you may find it difficult to pull back your foreskin.
Also known as thrush, oral candidiasis can affect both genders and is commonly seen in the elderly, patients getting chemotherapy or those with weakened immune systems.1 Infants may also get it if the mother has vaginal yeast infection during the time of birth. Symptoms of oral candidiasis include:2,3,4
✓ White spots inside the mouth and tongue
✓ Redness or discomfort in the mouth area
✓ Difficulty swallowing
✓ Sore throat
✓ Cracking at the corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis)5
✓ Slight bleeding if the lesions are rubbed
✓ Loss of taste
If a breastfeeding infant has thrush, the fungi may transfer to the mother's nipples and present unique symptoms, such as:6
• Red, sensitive and cracked nipples
• Shiny or flakey skin in the areola
• Stabbing pains within the breast
• Unusual pain during nursing
In rare cases, the Candida overgrowth can enter your bloodstream and potentially become life-threatening. This occurs in roughly 8 out of 100,000 people annually. Despite the rarity, invasive candidiasis ranks as the fourth most common bloodstream infection in the United States.
Symptoms are hard to pinpoint because the disease develops from a preexisting medical condition. However, there are tell-tale symptoms, such as fever and chills that don't improve even after treatment. If left untreated, the disease can affect your heart, brain, eyes, bones or joints.7
What to Do When Symptoms Appear
It's highly recommended you visit the doctor right away if you develop a burning feeling during urination or a rash in your genital area. Though curable, yeast infection requires the right treatment, which is most effective under the guidance of a doctor.
The symptoms of yeast infection are often confused with a urinary tract infection (UTI) as well, especially among women. If left untreated, a UTI can cause serious damage to your kidneys. Your doctor will help identify the underlying cause of the symptoms for proper treatment.