Summertime Yeast Infections

Expert offers tips on how to avoid this vexing condition

(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)

SATURDAY, July 12, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Summer can bring more than warm breezes and lazy days at the beach.

Unfortunately, the season also brings an increased number of yeast infections, caused when a type of fungus that normally lives in and around the vagina overgrows.

"Yeast likes warm, wet environments, and that's going to increase in the summer," explains Dr. Ralph Dauterive, head of obstetrics and gynecology at the Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans.

Summer also means more vulvitis, an external skin irritation that can occur as a result of wearing wet clothes or because of irritation from leftover detergent on clothes. Vulvitis has no discharge like yeast infections, but it has many of the same symptoms -- itchiness, discomfort -- and also thrives on heat and moisture.

The good news is that both conditions can be prevented with many of the same precautions. Listen to this advice:

  • Limit your intake of sweets. Anything with a high sugar content, including drinks, increases glucose levels, which is a perfect environment for yeast to overgrow, Dauterive says.
  • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of (non-sweet) fluids.
  • Wear loose, cotton clothing (that means cotton underwear, too). "Anything that stays close to your skin in the summer is not conducive to getting rid of water and staying cool," Dauterive says.
  • Avoid synthetic fabrics.
  • Make sure your genital area is really dry after bathing.
  • Change out of a wet swimsuit or damp workout clothes as soon as possible.
  • If you suspect you have a yeast infection, see your doctor for appropriate treatment. A doctor will also be able to prescribe a steroid cream for vulvitis.

More information

Check out Medline to learn about the condition.

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