What is a Yeast Infection?
A yeast infection, also known as candida, is an infection of the mouth, vagina or skin that causes rapid yeast production. A yeast infection in the vagina can also be known as vaginitis, a yeast infection in the mouth is also called thrush, and a yeast infection on the skin is also known as intertrigo or tinea versicolor. The most common symptoms of a yeast infection in the vagina include vaginal itching and a creamy, white discharge that resembles cottage cheese. In the mouth, a yeast infection appears as patchy white spots on the tongue and the inside of the cheeks. A yeast infection on the skin will appear white and patchy and will usually itch. Yeast infections can be treated over-the-counter, with home remedies like eating yogurt or with a doctor's prescription if the infection is severe.
Untreated Yeast Infections
Individuals who do not have health insurance or who do not have the proper funds may leave a yeast infection untreated and choose to wait it out. Unfortunately, a yeast infection will usually not get better on its own. The itching and burning associated with yeast infections in the vagina or on the skin my increase, and the patchy areas in the mouth will become larger. According to Dr. Orli R. Etingin, a medical professor of gynecology at New York Weill Cornell Medical Center, untreated yeast infections do not cause infertility or scarring. You should, however, get a yeast infection treated immediately if you are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant, because it can prevent pregnancy from occurring. Untreated yeast infections, besides being uncomfortable or unsightly, can also weaken your immune system. As the body tries to fight off the infection, your body may be compromised if you are exposed to any other harmful germs or bacteria.
When to See a Doctor
If you have had an untreated yeast infection and begin to experience a fever, sweating, nausea, severe burning or itching or any other alarming symptoms, use an over-the-counter remedy like Monistat for vaginal yeast infections or Lotrimin AF for tinea versicolor or intertrigo. There is no over-the-counter remedy for thrush, but a home remedy for thrush includes swishing a cup of plain yogurt in your mouth one spoonful at a time for one minute per spoonful, then swallowing it. If the remedy does not reduce the severity of your yeast infection within two days, or your symptoms become worse, see a doctor as soon as possible.
Megan Smith has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006. She writes about health, fitness, travel, beauty and grooming topics for various print and Internet publications. Smith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing from New York University.