What Causes Yeast Infection?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2018
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Yeast infection is a term used to describe an overabundance of yeast fungus, which can lead to rash, itching and burning. These fungal organisms breed in areas of the body that are moist, such as the mouth and vagina, and this causes yeast infection. Candidiasis is one of the fungal species that carries the most responsibility, and overall, it accounts for more than 90% of all outbreaks. There are over a dozen different types of candidiasis, and it occurs most commonly in the vaginal area.

Vaginal yeast infection usually occurs when there is a breakdown of a bacteria called Lactobacillus acidophilus. This bacterium controls the growth of yeast fungus in the vagina. Without this bacteria, the yeast over-multiplies and causes extreme itchiness, pain, and a discharge with a consistency and appearance that has been compared to cottage cheese. There are over-the-counter drugs that can be bought at any drugstore to treat a vaginal yeast infection.

In some cases, overusing antibiotics causes yeast infection. The antibiotics are intended to kill harmful bacteria, but they also often kill off good bacteria. If those bacteria are not present to stop the growth of yeast, infection can occur. It is also believed that excessive amounts of the hormone estrogen cause yeast infection. These elevated levels are often found in women who are pregnant or undergoing hormone replacement therapy.


Improper sterilization of bottles or other nursing utensils causes yeast infection in babies. The oral condition is called thrush, and it can also be the result of a woman giving birth while she is suffering from a yeast infection in the vaginal area. Babies with thrush will usually have white patchy areas inside the mouth that look very much like dried milk. Newborn babies up to the age of four weeks are the most susceptible to this condition. There are many treatments available for thrush, but the most effective way to prevent it is to be sure the mother is not suffering a yeast infection at the time of delivery.

Yeast infections of all types are usually not serious, and they can normally be dealt with by using creams that kill fungus. In rare cases, yeast infections can spread into other parts of the body and can result in serious illness, and even death. It is important to determine the specific causes of yeast infection to ensure that outbreaks are not recurrent. Recurrent outbreaks may signal a more serious underlying condition. If a yeast infection isn't cured by standard medications that can be bought over the counter, many experts recommend a visit to the doctor.



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