This Is What Happens When A Yeast Infection Goes Untreated

Every healthy body has yeast (candida). It can generally be found in the digestive system and the genitals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Yeast infections occur when that yeast grows out of control. This can occur in the mouth, throat, genitals, or other parts of the body.

Most women (roughly 75%) will experience a yeast infection at some point, and 45% will experience them more than once (per Women's Integrated Healthcare). In fact, roughly 1.4 million women are treated for yeast infections each year. Women who are pregnant, have diabetes, or have immune system deficiencies are particularly vulnerable to yeast infections. Vaginal yeast infections result in itchiness, irritation, and swelling, as well as thick, white discharge. Many women also report soreness or pain when they have sex or use the bathroom, according to The Office on Women's Health.

While it is less common, men can also experience yeast infections, according to Healthline. Penile yeast infections result in redness, itching, burning, and a thick white substance in the skin folds. Oral yeast infections ("thrush") result in creamy white lesions in the mouth, and are most common in infants and children (per VeryWell Health). This can cause burning, soreness, bleeding, loss of taste, and make it difficult to eat or swallow.

It is not a good idea to leave yeast infections untreated

The Office on Women's Health recommends seeing your doctor to make sure that what you are experiencing is a yeast infection and not something more serious. If it is indeed a yeast infection, your doctor may prescribe medication. Otherwise, antifungal medicines can be obtained in stores without a prescription. Depending on the brand, they can be used in a single dose or used daily for up to a week. As with vaginal yeast infections, oral and penile yeast infections are easily treated with medication (via VeryWell Health).

If a vaginal yeast infection is left untreated, it will likely get worse, resulting in redness and inflammation (per Healthline). This could eventually lead to a skin infection that may involve bleeding and open sores. Less commonly, untreated vaginal yeast infections could result in fatigue, oral thrush, or gastrointestinal problems. Of course, you should not start any treatment without first consulting your doctor. Ultimately, the most concerning part of any untreated yeast infection is that it may spread to the bloodstream, which may be life-threatening (per Informed Health). This is very rare, but it may be more likely to affect people with very weak systems.