Will Yeast Infection Go Away on its own – and other Frequently Asked Questions
October 14, 2020
Updated December 2022
Yeast infections happen due to certain types of fungi known as ‘yeasts’. There are several types of yeasts from the species ‘fungus’ – some we use in cooking and brewery. But one of the most common types responsible for sickness in humans is known as Candida albicans.
Read on to see how yeast (Candida) affects men, women and children and common questions you care about addressed.
Contributed by Dr Fisayomi Aturamu
When you hear about yeast infection, you probably think straightaway of vaginal thrush.
And you wouldn’t be wrong – vulvovaginal thrush is another name for yeast infecting the woman’s genital area.
Thrush develops following infection with a member of the species of fungus.
Candida is one of the most common causes of fungal infections in humans. 
Candida albicans, the particular organism that causes a yeast infection, usually reside naturally in the vagina.
(All over our bodies – on our skin or gut, we have different germs that exist harmlessly – some of them are bacteria or fungi of different types)
However, thanks to the ‘good bacteria’ in the vagina – they keep the growth of Candida under control and harmless.
So when anything upsets the normal balance of the ‘good bacteria reducing their numbers, yeast colonies may multiply, leading to infection. 
And so, vaginal thrush infection presents a common problem many women experience throughout life.
However, men of any age can also be affected by yeast infection.
Yeast can also affect other parts of the body.
Overgrowth of Candida can develop in your mouth.
Known as oral thrush, it often looks like white patches in the mouth, especially inside the cheeks, lips, gums and tongue.
It can also affect other areas like the underarms’ skin, thighs, or crease areas between the buttocks.
It is the second most common cause of vaginal infections after bacterial vaginosis.
Studies suggest that 4 out of every 10 women visiting a clinic with vaginal infections may have candida. 
Approximately three out of every four women will develop a yeast infection in their lifetime. 
Vaginal infections with yeast are more common in women of childbearing age.  They very frequently happen during pregnancy and just before menstruation. 
What these two conditions have in common (pregnancy and menstruation) is a change in your usual hormone balance.
Scientists believe this could lead to the overgrowth of yeasts.
Antibiotic/Other Drug Treatment
Another reason for thrush is following a recent course of antibiotics for other problems such as chest or urinary tract infections.
Or when you abuse antibiotics – (when you use them more often than you need to).
While antibiotics destroy bad germs, they may get rid of good bacteria, too.
This leads to the overgrowth of candida and, therefore, thrush.
As a woman, this is most likely to result in vaginal thrush, though thrush in other areas could develop.
If you use some birth control (combined pill), you may be at a greater risk of Thrush.
Poor Personal Hygiene
Poor personal hygiene is another significant factor in developing thrush.
Yeast germs thrive in warm, moist areas.
With inadequate care, some parts of your body could make it really easy for the yeasts to grow and multiply.
Examples of where this could happen are:
Failing to wash regularly every day, after exercise or to clean properly after opening your bowels makes it easier for yeasts to grow.
Similarly, wearing stale, damp clothing like underwear or socks/stockings makes the likelihood of developing an infection with yeast highly likely.
Chronic Health Problems
Other problems that can lead to thrush are common among both sexes.
Health conditions like Diabetes or those that suppress your immunity also contribute to developing Thrush.
Examples of these are HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection and Cancer.
Taking medicines to treat cancer also weakens your immunity and makes you susceptible to thrush.
Yes, men do also get thrush/yeast infections.
It can affect the genitals, mouth and other skin areas just as in women, but to a less frequent degree.
Candida infection in men is also the most common cause of inflammation affecting the head of the penis. 
Symptoms of Yeast Infection in Men:
A yeast infection can affect babies and young children.
Babies’ immune systems are still developing, so they are more at risk of developing an infection.
The common areas that a baby can be affected are in the mouth and ‘nappy area’.
Your baby’s mouth makes regular with your nipple/breast during breastfeeding.
Oral thrush in a baby causes soreness and can affect the baby’s breastfeeding.
Some symptoms of oral thrush are:
Carefully cleaning your breast and nipples between feeds helps prevent thrush from developing in your baby.
Getting prompt treatment for you and your baby if either shows signs of thrush is important.
The other common problem area is the ‘nappy region’.
Babies can develop diaper rash or nappy dermatitis, which are most often due to yeast infection.
Some or all of these areas develop a red, shiny, inflamed, raised, pimply or bumpy rash .
It is uncomfortable and leads to pain when urinating as the acidic urine rubs against the sore skin.
Some of the conditions that may increase the risk of nappy dermatitis are:
Yeast infections lead to irritation and discomfort – mostly, symptoms are not severe but can complicate your usual activities.
Here are a few common enquiries we get about yeast infections.
Yeast infection is typically not sexually transmitted. However, it can be passed from one person to another through body contact – such as during sex.
Another instance is when a breastfeeding baby develops thrush as the yeast can grow in both baby’s mouth and on the mother’s nipple.
Yeast infections are not toilet infections.
Poor personal hygiene from not washing properly, dirty clothing, personal habits like douching etc.
These are more likely conditions than a dirty toilet for developing thrush.
Having a yeast infection during your period may make menses uncomfortable.
The itching sensation accompanying a yeast infection may get worse, especially when sanitary pads are worn over a long period.
This is why maintaining good hygiene during your periods is so important.
As we’ve seen, yeast cells live in our bodies but are usually controlled by good bacteria.
Therefore, anything that depletes the vegetation of ‘good bacteria’ in the vagina would predispose you to yeast infection; or when your immune system is weak and cannot protect you from the germs.
Do the following to prevent a yeast infection:
Personal hygiene care for women:
General Prevention Tips
Avoid unnecessary or prolonged antibiotic use wherever possible.
Eating certain types of foods called Probiotics can help your body control the overgrowth of yeast or other bad germs.
Apart from the genitals, anal area and mouth, it is also possible to get a yeast infection on the nipples and around the breasts.
Breast and nipple yeast infections happen in breastfeeding mothers whose babies have oral thrush.
Most yeast infections are mild, but in some cases, they can become overwhelming or extensive.
These are often complications of weak immune systems from conditions like Cancer or HIV, as well as side effects from the medicines used to treat these conditions.
So, in addition to a yeast infection of the mouth, the deeper tissues of the throat or pharynx can be involved.
Another complication is blood poisoning – this also happens when the immune system is suppressed.
It often happens when the yeast becomes overgrown on objects placed within the body, like catheters in the bladder.
Yeast infection in men may cause urethritis, an inflammation of the urethra, the urinary tube that runs into the penis and the bladder. 
Candida is a common cause of opportunistic infections, especially for people in hospitals.
An opportunistic infection is a special type of infection when a germ that would usually not cause harm takes advantage of the opportunity given by a weakened immune system to cause serious illness.
A very common example is when Candida causes urinary tract infections in people with urinary catheters. 
Opportunistic infections are also common in people with HIV who have weakened immune systems.
Recurring thrush is the term doctors give to a thrush infection that keeps returning after treatment. It may get better for a while; then you get thrush again. This may happen if you did not complete your course of treatment or take the medicines as advised.
It may also be the case that there is an underlying condition, which means that the yeast germs can survive or multiply very easily despite treatment.
This could happen with the following:
But in some cases, you may suffer from a thrush infection which does not go away following standard treatment.
Yeast infections are generally treated with antifungal drugs.
These are a special class of medicines which kill and stop the growth of the yeasts.
They can be taken by mouth (oral); used directly on the skin as creams or as capsules inserted into the vagina (pessaries).
These are generally used for yeast infections affecting the skin:
Tablets/ Capsules/Gels/Sprays/Mouth Drops
You may be given antifungal medicines to take by mouth instead of (or as well as) creams to treat your yeast infection.
More severe and extensive candida/yeast infections are more effectively treated with oral antifungals than with creams.
We use these for treating thrush in the vagina, penis, and other skin infections like over the nipple, armpit, groin and so on.
Oral gels, sprays and mouth drops are specially designed for infections in the mouth.
They are especially preferable for babies and adults who have swallowing difficulties.
Their advantage is allowing the drug to concentrate within the mouth’s tissues and quickly target the yeast cells.
These are medicines in the form of capsules or creams within applicators that deliver the drug right within the vagina.
Oral drops or gels allow the drug to concentrate within the vaginal tissues and kill yeast cells.
You may get a course of treatment for 1 or 2 weeks, but there are ‘single-dose’ preparations which are easier to use and adhere with.
Pessaries can also be used by a woman during her menstrual period.
The best way to use the vaginal pessary is to apply it high up in the vagina at bedtime.
This allows the medicine to remain inside the vagina after application while you are lying still.
If your symptoms do not improve following a course of treatment, it is important to seek medical advice.
Well, a lot of the time, mild cases of thrush in adults can be treated without seeing a doctor. This could be the case with slight vulval/vaginal infection or irritation around the penis.
These are often antifungal creams or pessaries, and you may find these convenient and simple to use.
A common preparation is Clotrimazole, marketed as Canesten in many places.
However, if you feel you have a heavy yeast infection, or you have other symptoms such as:
please visit a clinic/hospital to ensure you get the proper treatment.
There is some evidence that mild cases of vulval thrush; or vulval and vaginal infection can be treated naturally.
You may prefer a natural remedy if you want a discreet, at-home remedy. Still, it is important to emphasise that these remedies may be limited in moderate/severe infections where you may also feel ill.
These remedies are also NOT recommended if you:
Some of these home remedies are:
If you want to learn more about home remedies and how to use them safely, read here.
Yeast infections can last three days to two weeks, so there are one-day, three-day, or week-long treatments available.
Generally, the sooner you begin treatment, the quicker the yeast growth can be controlled and stopped.
Your response may begin within the first 24 to 36 hours for creams, pessaries, mouth gels or drops.
The tablets/capsules require digestion and may take slightly longer to begin working.
Pregnant women are a special group who need a longer duration of treatment, usually about 7 days, to clear the infection.
Oral antifungal treatment should be avoided during pregnancy.
Regardless, any treatment failure should be reported to your doctor for help.
Have you any experience of Candida infection that you’d care to share – was it hard to get a diagnosis or the right treatment? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.
Editing By AskAwayHealth
All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on various healthcare conditions to help promote quality healthcare.
The advice in our material is not meant to replace a qualified healthcare practitioner’s management of your specific condition.
To discuss your condition, please get in touch with a health practitioner or reach us directly.
Image Credits – Canva
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