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Fungal Yeast Infections and the Diabetic Response

If your diabetes is not being managed, in reaction to the increased sugar, your body may develop a yeast infection. Also, changes to vaginal acidity, can occur due to diabetes and causes yeast to overgrow. These infections are annoying and uncomfortable, but can often be cured without a doctor’s appointment.

We’re covered in germs, including yeasts and fungi, which love warm, humid conditions such as summer heat and cosy winter clothing, Actual infections are rarely serious, but can be uncomfortable and embarrassing; you can often treat them yourself with home remedies and advice from your pharmacist. Avoid steroid creams, which can worsen fungal infections, although doctors occasionally add steroids to antifungal creams to relieve severe inflammation. If symptoms are severe, or last more than a week or two, see your GP to check the diagnosis, rule out more serious conditions (including diabetes, which can encourage these infections) and/or obtain more effective prescription-only treatment.

Athlete’s foot

This produces red, scaly and/ or white sogy areas that may blister or bleed particularly between the toes. It‘s very itchy. Treat it with antifungal cream, powder or spray from the pharmacy and keep it away by washing and drying feet carefully, using a separate towel. Wear fresh socks daily and leather shoes outside, but sandals or flip-fiops at home and in changing rooms.


This produces an itchy red scaly patch (or patches) surrounded by angry red rings on the body or scalp. It’s caught by direct contact with an infected person/pet or contaminated clothing, bedding, combs or even soil. Clear it with pharmacy antifungal cream/shampoo and avoid scratching. Prescription tablets are sometimes needed.

Nail Infections

Thrush (candida, yeast) infections are more common if your hands are often in water; they can get under the nail bed and produce ridges or painful red swelling, sometimes with bacterial infection and pus. Antifungal cream or tablets, antibiotics or even draining the pus may be needed. Fungal infections make nails ridged, thickened, discoloured yellow/brown and/or crumbly, but so do many other nail conditions, so if you’re unsure, several nails are affected or antifungal paint (from the pharmacy) doesn‘t work, see your GP for tests. Nails grow slowly and need several months’ treatment. Terbinafine tablets can affect the liver, so you’ll need regular blood tests.


This affects skin folds, for example in the armpit, groin and under the breasts and is usually caused by a yeast infection.

It looks fiery red, shiny and may have ‘satellite’ red spots. Treat it by washing and drying thoroughly twice daily befone rubbing in anti-yeast cream. Prevent it by wearing loose-fitting clothes in natural fibres. ‘Jock itch’ is a bacterial groin infection that may spread to the genitals and requires antibiotic treatment.


In the mouth, it can produce sore white patches on the tongue and inside cheeks that look raw if scraped off. It often affects babies and people who have diabetes, immune-system problems, use steroid inhalers (rinsing after use can help), have poor oral hygiene or are generally frail. It’s treated with antithrush oral drops/gel. Vaginal thrush produces intense itching, a cottage cheese like discharge and can make lovemaking painful. It can be triggered by antibiotics.

Treat with cream, pessaries or tablets from the pharmacy, but seek medical advice from your GP/sexual health clinic if you suspect a sexually transmitted infection.

5 Tests You May Need

1. Swabs a cotton-wool bud is used to take a sample and is sent off for analysis.

2. A skin sample is obtained with special adhesive tape or scrapings from scaly areas.

3. A plucked hair or skin brushed from a scaly scalp may be sent off.

4. Nail clippings from clean dry nails or a sample scraped from under a nail may be needed.

5. Blood tests, X-rays, scans and telescope examination if a rarer, internal infection is suspected.

E306 – Fungal Yeast Infections and the Diabetic Response –

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