People usually have a small amount of Candida, a type of yeast, growing in or on their bodies. Under normal circumstances, the yeast is kept under control by the body's immune system and by healthy bacteria that also live in the body. If a person's immune system is weak or the good bacteria is killed, Candida can grow out of control, causing an infection. Signs of yeast infection vary depending on where in the body the infection occurs. Itchiness and irritation of the area are generally two signs of yeast infection.
Almost three quarters of all women will experience a vaginal yeast infection at some point in their lives. Signs of yeast infection in the vaginal area include a discharge that may resemble cottage cheese. The discharge usually does not have an odor. Other symptoms are pain when urinating or having sex. Many women experience an intense burning feeling or itchiness on the vulva as well.
Another type of yeast infection is thrush, which occurs in the mouth. People who suffer from diabetes, cancer or HIV may be more susceptible to developing thrush. An infant can develop thrush if his mother has a vaginal yeast infection while pregnant with him.
Signs of yeast infection in the mouth include an inability to taste foods or a constant bad taste in the mouth. A person's mouth may also feel dry, like it's full of cotton balls. Visible signs of yeast infection include chunky white bumps on the tongue and around the inside of the mouth. The white lesions bleed easily, especially if a person scrapes one while brushing his teeth. If thrush spreads to a person's esophagus, he may find it painful to swallow.
Babies with thrush may not want to eat, since the infection causes a lot of pain, especially when they try to swallow. If a mother is nursing a baby with thrush, she may develop signs of yeast infection on her nipples, even if the baby has no obvious symptoms. An infection can cause her nipples to redden and feel sore. Breastfeeding may be especially painful.
Yeast infections can also occur on a person's skin. A baby with thrush may develop a yeast diaper rash, especially if his diaper is not changed quickly. Cutaneous yeast infections usually cause a rash on the folds of the skin, such as under the knees or in the buttocks. The rash can be red and itchy. In some cases, small bumps that resemble pimples form in the rash. A person can prevent a yeast infection on his skin by washing regularly and by thoroughly drying his skin afterward.