Yeast Infection Of The Skin And Mucous Membranes
A yeast infection of the skin and mucous membranes is caused by
What is going on in the body?
A yeast called Candida albicans is a common and normal inhabitant of the mucosal tissues, such as those of the mouth rectum, and vagina. Sometimes the yeast can overgrow and produce an inflamed rash on skin surfaces such as the diaper area, genital region, under the breasts, or underarms. Candidiasis of the mouth is also called oral thrush.
What are the causes and risks of the infection?
Yeast infections are more common with:
use of oral antibiotics
use of steroid medications, such as prednisone
crowded or unsanitary living conditions
use of oral contraceptives
- poor immune function, such as in people with HIV infection or receiving chemotherapy for cancer
What can be done to prevent the infection?
Some yeast infections can be avoided by:
taking antibiotics only when prescribed
avoiding excessive sweets
keeping skin cool and dry
wearing cotton underwear
Taking showers instead of baths to avoid yeast washing up from rectum into the vagina
Avoid tight fitting clothing (especially synthetics like nylon, etc that do not allow air circulation and trap body heat and moisture)
How is the infection diagnosed?
A healthcare professional may suspect a yeast infection from the distinctive rash, or the thick white pasty residue it generates. The diagnosis can be confirmed with a scraping of the skin or residue that shows the yeast organisms under the microscope.
Long Term Effects
What are the long-term effects of the infection?
Treatment is usually successful within 2 weeks, but the infection often comes back. If left untreated, yeast infections can cause sepsis, a life-threatening blood infection.
What are the risks to others?
Yeast infections are mildly contagious from person to person, and from place to place on the same person. A mother with a vaginal yeast infection
can pass it on to her newborn during delivery.
What are the treatments for the infection?
Yeast infections are treated with anti-yeast, anti-fungal creams. These include:
nystatin (i.e., Mycostatin, Nilstat) or miconazole (i.e., Monistat) cream for infections of the skin, vagina, and penis
suppositories (clotrimazole <i.e., Canesten, Gyne-Lotrimin, Mycelex>, tioconazole <i.e., Monistat-1, Vagistat-1>, butoconazole <i.e., Femstat, Gynazole-1>, miconazole <i.e., Monistat>)for vaginal or anal yeast infections
a liquid, suspension, pastille or lozenge for oral thrush
- oral antifungal medications for recurrent vulvovaginal yeast infections (fluconazole <i.e., Diflucan>)
The skin should be kept dry. Plain talcum powder, or a powder that contains nystatin, can help keep the surface area dry. Corticosteroid ointments may be used to reduce the itching and pain.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Side effects of ointments used to treat yeast infections may include a localized skin reaction.
What happens after treatment for the infection?
Treatment of yeast infections is usually successful within 1 to 2 weeks.
How is the infection monitored?
Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare professional. A pregnant woman who has a vaginal yeast infection should be monitored in her third trimester, because it can be passed on to her infant during delivery.
Professional Guide to Diseases, Sixth Ed., Springhouse, 1998
The Merck Manual of Medical Information, 1997
Instructions for Patients, HW Griffith, 1994