Hesperian Health Guides

Yeast (Moniliasis, Candida, Thrush)

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Yeast affects the genitals and that makes people think it is a STI, but yeast is not usually passed through sex. Usually yeast is not dangerous but it can be very uncomfortable. You are most likely to have a yeast infection when you are pregnant, taking antibiotics, or have some other illness such as diabetes or HIV infection. Yeast is most common in women but men can get yeast infections too. In men it can lead to inflammation of the head of the penis and itching of the scrotum. Both men and women can get thrush infections of the throat.

Yeast can also appear on the inner thighs, armpits, under the breasts, or around the anus. Yeast is most common where body parts touch each other and are covered, conditions that let skin stay moist.

Signs in women
  • white, lumpy discharge from the vagina, like milk curd or yogurt
  • bright red skin outside and inside the vagina which may bleed
  • feeling very itchy inside or outside the vagina
  • a burning feeling when passing urine
Signs in men
  • a thick, white discharge collects in skin folds and under the foreskin of the penis
  • patches of red bumps on the head of the penis
  • itching, burning, or redness on the penis or scrotum
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Mild yeast infections will sometimes go away without medicines. Natural treatments can reduce the itching.

 a woman putting medicine into her vagina

Natural treatments:
Rinsing off the discharge with clean water will help. Or mix plain yogurt (with no sugar or flavors) or ¼ cup of vinegar into a pan of clean warm water. Sit in this liquid for 20 to 30 minutes. If it helps you feel better, do this 2 times a day.

OR Mix 3 tablespoons of vinegar with 1 liter of boiled cool water. Soak a piece of clean cotton wool in this mixture and insert the cotton into the vagina every night for 3 nights. Remove the cotton each morning. Men can use the cotton prepared the same way to bathe the penis or scrotum.

Treatment with medicines:
Use one of these:

Gentian violet liquid on the vagina, penis, or scrotum each night for 7 nights


Miconazole cream, nystatin cream, or clotrimazole cream or tablets on or inside the vagina or on the penis or scrotum, each night for 7 nights. These medicines are safe to put on the vagina during pregnancy.

Men may take longer to treat.


Wear loose clothing and underclothes to let air reach the genitals. This helps prevent yeast. Wash or change underclothes often. Do not put soap in the vagina when bathing. Do not douche. If you have diabetes or HIV, taking your medicines correctly and caring for your health helps avoid yeast problems.

This page was updated:16 Oct 2019