Are Yeast Infections Contagious?

Light microscopy of Candida albicans


Smear of Candida albicans in which a cluster of yeast cells can be seen with their dark nuclei. By Jon Houseman (Jon Houseman and Matthew Ford) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Yeast infections are caused by a fungus called Candida. Although most people associate female yeast infections with the vagina, they can also occur in other parts of the body, as well. Since yeasts thrive in warm, dark and moist places, the mouth, groin, armpits and underneath the breasts are other places where yeasts might overgrow. If you have a yeast infection on some part of your body, then you may suspect the condition is contagious. Since sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and yeast infections are fairly common, a woman may wonder if a yeast infection might increase the risk of other infections, including those in close contact with an infected person.

Yeast infections however are not considered to be STDs , and although there is a very small chance of a man contracting a yeast infection from a female sex partner, yeast infections are not contagious.

Symptoms of a yeast infection

The most common symptoms are: itchy, irritated skin, a slightly bumpy rash, burning, a slight discharge that is clear or yellow in color. Men with yeast infections in the penile area will experience similar symptoms. Yeast infections in other parts of the body can cause itchy, dry patches of irritated skin.

Causes of yeast infections

In women, infections can occur as a result of an imbalance of the vagina. This can be caused by a suppressed immune system, or frequent or long-term antibiotic use, which can kill off both good and bad bacteria. Women who consume high-sugar diets, as well as those with diabetes and other blood sugar problems, might also be more prone to developing yeast infections.

How are yeast infections diagnosed

Many women who have had yeast infections in the past are usually able to pretty accurately diagnose themselves in most situations. Women who aren’t sure, or individuals with suspected yeast infections in other parts of their bodies, are diagnosed through a physical examination by a medical professional. A sample of the affected area is tested to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment for yeast infections

Most doctors prescribe suppositories that are placed in the vagina each night for about a week for vaginal yeast infections. However, for infections in other parts of the body, there are topical antifungals, in addition to oral antifungal medications. Oral medications are often hard on the liver, and if taken for long periods of time can lead to damage of this organ. Luckily, most antifungal treatment is quite brief due to its effectiveness, and in some cases, an infection can be eradicated with just one or two doses.

Prevention of yeast infections

Most people can never predict when they might develop an infection, except if they’re taking antibiotics over extended periods of time. If you are prescribed long-term antibiotics, then you might want to ask for a prescription to treat yeast infections, just in case. You could also opt to take a good probiotic. This can keep yeasts from growing uncontrollably. In addition, try adhering to a healthy diet that is low in sugar and high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, and minimal processed and fast foods. You should also keep your blood sugar levels in check, whether you have diabetes or not.

The Bottom Line

It is uncommon for one partner to transmit a yeast infection to the other by sexual transmission. To emphasize this point, in the video below a medical authority discusses the possibility of a contagious yeast infection, concluding this is not a serious issue.

 

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