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What Is a Yeast Infection?

A yeast infection is a condition that is brought about by a group of microscopic fungi called Candida. Other names for yeast infection are candidiasis and thrush. While most people think of yeast infections as a woman’s issue, yeast infections can actually occur in many other parts of the body - particularly those which tend to be warm and moist.

Yeast infection can occur in the genital areas (vaginal yeast infection or vaginitis; while this occurs mainly in women, men can get affected as well), in the nailbed, and even in the diaper line for babies. It may seem surprising but yeast infections can also occur under the breast, in the armpits, around dentures, and even in the lower abdomen.

The fact is that there are more than 20 species of Candida, and they can survive on practically every area of our skin surface. Normally, our bodies can handle these fungi and fight them off, but in some cases, the fungi become too many for our natural defenses to handle. That is when yeast infection sets in.

In women, yeast infection can be caused by a variety of things - their monthly period, taking birth control pills, pregnancy, and sperm. Sometimes, certain medication such as antibiotics and steroids can also trigger yeast infection. In most cases, yeast infections can easily be treated.

There is a type of yeast infection that requires more serious medical attention, however. Systemic yeast infections are potentially life threatening. These kinds of yeast infections are called candidemia and usually occur in patients who already have a serious illness such as cancer and AIDS.

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