Yeast infections occur when there's an abundance of the yeast fungus in the human body. Also known as Candida, yeast infections can manifest in the mouth, under breasts, in the vagina, beneath folds of skin, underneath fingernails, in the lower abdomen and the rectum. There are over twenty different varieties of yeast infections, with the most common being thrush, in the mouth, and infections of the vagina, known as vaginitis.
Since yeast thrives in dark, moist environments, the mouth, vagina and rectum are excellent environments to harbor yeast. The body can normally regulate the production of yeast, but there are certain factors that can compromise this regulatory system, such as antibiotics - which tend to increase the production of yeast - oral contraceptives, and the anti-inflammatory steroid, prednisone. Men are not immune from yeast infections, either, and can often contract them from sexual intercourse with an infected woman, since the infection gets passed back and forth through the vagina.
There are also many forms of remedies out there for yeast infections, but some may not be desirable for all types of infections. Thrush, for example, can most often be cured by ingesting unsweetened yogurt on a regular basis, but may not be a good remedy for someone with a compromised immune system. Anti-fungal medicines can be prescribed for thrush and other types of yeast infections, such as vaginal and skin, but home remedies for yeast infections are becoming vastly popular.
A regular diet of plain, unsweetened yogurt can help regulate the body's natural yeast balance, but it doesn't cure it, as many people think. It provides good bacteria, but remember to eat only unsweetened - sugar feeds yeast. Yogurt has also been used as a topical treatment for yeast infections of the skin, in some cases. Garlic can also be used to combat yeast infections, especially the vaginal type, by inserting a tab of garlic into the vagina every few hours. Apple cider vinegar can kill yeast bacteria, as well, if taken internally. Vaginal infections can sometimes be combated by douching with a mix of water and hydrogen peroxide until symptoms disappear.
Most people, however, prefer over-the-counter remedies that have been proven to work, such as Monistat for vaginal infections. There are plenty of suppositories and topical creams for yeast infections of all types. When using any yeast infection treatment, however, remember to wear loose clothing of cotton fibers, refrain from douching, and avoid foods that harbor yeast, like sugar and refined flour.