When you hear the term ‘yeast infection’, you probably immediately think of sensitive female problems that people class as taboo in public, but actually yeast infections can attack anyone at any time and don’t only affect your private areas, they can also flare up in more innocuous places such as on the skin, in your throat, and even in your bloodstream! This type of yeast infection in particular can be deadly, so it’s very important that it is not ignored and left untreated, as it may cause complications and even become life threatening not that much later down the line!
Vaginal Yeast Infections
In spite of the above, the most common yeast is vaginal and obviously found in women, although it can be transmitted to men via sexual intercourse onto the penis and surrounding areas (male candidiasis).
Complications/Implications: Whilst this is certainly not a pleasant condition, as it causes irritation, pain and often discharge, vaginal thrush does not cause immediate long term complications or implications for the majority of women (or indeed, men), who suffer with it. Pain will more than likely be felt during peeing or sexual intercourse, which can be a real killer for passion (as you can expect), so some people do find they are embarrassed or unwilling to have intercourse even after the infection has gone, leading to relationship problems, especially if communication is poor between the couple.
Long term or untreated vaginal yeast infections can lead to a wider set of problems, including secondary infections that occur when prolonged irritation and/or scratching has led to the skin becoming sore and cracked, allowing other bacteria into the area. In addition, infections that are chronic often go away to come straight back again, even if over the counter treatment has been used, so these may need something stronger as prescribed by a doctor.
Skin Yeast Infections
Yeast infections of the skin are the most common type in human skin, and affect both sexes of all ages. Nappy rash is caused when the candida infection is allowed to penetrate the skin, as the area becomes sweaty as it is covered in dense covering, and those who sweat excessively or cannot move freely may suffer with candidal body rash. Anyone with a chronic diseases such as diabetes or HIV/AIDS may also be at risk of thrush in the mouth and throat, as their immune systems struggle more to fight the fungi off.
Complications/Implications: As with vaginal thrush, skin infections are easily treatable if caught in a reasonable timeframe, although they can even in the early days cause excess itching which can lead to sore and cracked skin through scratching. Some people with excessive itching have been known to wear lightweight gloves to bed, to prevent against scratching in their sleep. Infections such as chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis leave sufferers with nail abnormalities and horny skin lesions, and of course, the cosmetic appearance of any such skin infection that leaves a mark will have implications on self-image of the person in question.
If left untreated, yeast infections on the skin can lead to resultant scars from where the sufferer has scratched the skin intensively. Peeling skin and a scaly texture is also a symptom of long term yeast skin infections, and again, secondary infections are also a risk that will need to be considered.
Yeast Infections in the Bloodstream
Yeast infections in the bloodstream are one of the most serious types you can get, as this means that your immune system is too weak to prevent against it, regardless of cause. Otherwise known as invasive candidiasis, this requires prompt treatment as it can easily lead to serious complications and even death.
Those at high risk from this include:
- Low birth weight infants
- Those who have had recent surgery
- Are in ICU in a hospital
- Have a weakened immune system
- Have a catheter or central line
Complications/Implications: Invasive candidiasis, if left untreated, will spread through the body rapidly, attacking all in its path. That sounds scary but true; prompt treatment in this case could save a life, so it’s essential anyone suffering from this receives medical care and stays out the course, which is usually an antifungal agent given by mouth or through an IV for several weeks.
A yeast infection when caught in the early stages can usually be treated with home remedies. It is recommended, however, that if the infection is recurrent in more than a 2 month period, professional advice is sought, as the yeast becomes resilient to the treatment you’re using and you may need further exploratory tests to determine if there’s nothing else more sinister underlying to cause the infection to recur; for example, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) can often produce symptoms similar to thrush, but is much more serious, and if left untreated can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancies and scarring inside the reproductive organs. Obviously this is not the only cause of infertility, but quite a large one worldwide – anyone with resultant infertility problems from yeast infections may wish to seek IVF treatment to have children, which can be costly and emotionally draining for all involved, so the best case scenario is prevention.
For longer term yeast infections, it is really important to seek correct medical advice, as these can lead to further complications if left untreated; many people find talking about the problem embarrassing and whilst understandable, the alternatives can often be unpleasant – months of itching and soreness, long term scars and even self-misdiagnosis in some cases, masking the symptoms of more serious problems – all of these are reasons why, if you suspect you have a yeast infection and over the counter remedies don’t work OR you’re worried it’s something more serious, you should see a doctor as soon as possible!