What Is an Anal Yeast Infection?

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An anal yeast infection develops when fungus, Candida, grows out of control around the anus. Yeast infections are usually mild in healthy people and easily treated with over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications.

Your healthcare provider can determine if a yeast infection is the cause of your symptoms and help you find the best treatment. Keep reading to find out more about the cause, symptoms, and treatment of yeast infections and tips to prevent them from coming back.

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What Is an Anal Yeast Infection?

Yeast infections can happen in any part of the body, but most often occurs around the:

  • Mouth
  • Vagina
  • Penis
  • Folds of skin

An anal yeast infection affects the anus and the area around it (perianal).

Candida—the fungus that causes yeast infections—is a normal part of the flora of most people’s skin, mouth, digestive system, stool, and vagina. Flora refers to the microorganisms—bacteria, fungi, archaea, and viruses—that live in and on the human body.

The flora can protect your health, help with digestion, and provide other benefits. But in some cases, one type can grow out of control leading to an infection.

Yeast can overgrow from:

  • Antibiotic use, leading to an imbalance in flora
  • Diabetes or high blood sugar
  • Weakened immune system
  • Poor hygiene (yeast grows best in warm, dark, and moist environments)
  • Hormonal changes, like during pregnancy and while taking oral birth control

Symptoms

One of the first symptoms most people notice is itching in the perianal area. Pruritus ani is a common condition defined as the chronic itchy sensation of the skin around the anus. It’s estimated that fungal infections are responsible for about 15% of pruritus ani.

Anal yeast infections can easily spread to the penis or vagina, and the infection can also spread to the anus from those other areas.

The symptoms of an anal yeast infection will be focused around the perianal area unless the infection spreads to other parts of the body. Your symptoms may include:

  • Itchiness and soreness
  • Burning sensation
  • Red, irritated, inflamed skin
  • Discharge or bleeding

Diagnosis

While there are over-the-counter treatment options available for yeast infections, you should see a healthcare provider if:

  • This is your first time experiencing a yeast infection
  • You experience frequent or recurring infections
  • Your symptoms last longer than one week

To diagnose an infection your healthcare provider will likely:

  • Gather a history of your symptoms
  • Complete a physical exam of the perianal area
  • Take a sample to test for Candida growth

Treatment

The treatment of yeast infections depends on how serious the infection is. For most healthy people without a weakened immune system, yeast infections are not severe and are easily treated.

Whichever treatment you choose, finish the whole treatment course to make sure the infection fully clears.

Over-the-Counter Treatments

There are many effective treatment options for yeast infections that you can purchase over the counter.

Can Vaginal Yeast Infection Medication Treat an Anal Yeast Infection?

While most yeast infection medications are marketed toward treating vaginal yeast infections, they can be used to treat other parts of the body.

They are available as antifungal ointments, creams, or suppositories. Common medications used to treat yeast infections include:

  • Miconazole (Monistat)
  • Terconazole (Terazol)
  • Clotrimazole (Lotrimin)
  • Butoconazole (Gynazole)

Prescription Treatments

Your healthcare provider may recommend either localized treatment, like the creams and ointments available over the counter, or oral antifungal medications.

Most mild to moderate yeast infections can be treated with a one-time dose of fluconazole (Diflucan).

For severe infections or ones that keep coming back, you will likely need a longer treatment course. Your healthcare provider may recommend:

  • Ointments, creams, and suppositories used daily for up to two weeks, then once weekly for a few months
  • Multiple doses of an oral antifungal medication, like Diflucan

Alternative Treatments

Natural and alternative treatments for managing infections can be popular, but not all have been proven effective in treating yeast infections.

There is some research to support improved symptoms of yeast infections with alternative treatments:

  • Tea tree oil: One study showed that tea tree oil could help to enhance the treatment of yeast infections. This study combined the oil with fluconazole medication to help treat recurring infections.
  • Ozonated olive oil: One study found that ozonated olive oil could be an effective topical treatment for yeast infections.
  • Garlic and thyme: This study compared a cream containing garlic and thyme to a clotrimazole cream. They found that both creams were equally effective in treating yeast infections.

Before starting any alternative treatments, talk with your healthcare provider. Some alternative medicines have unknown effects, are ineffective, or could interact with other medications.

Prevention

You can reduce your risk for yeast infections around the anus, or anywhere else, by:

  • Limiting moisture
  • Wear cotton underwear
  • Wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Wash thoroughly and change into dry clothing after workouts or swimming
  • Avoid using scented products to clean at-risk areas
  • Use physical protection (condoms or dental dams) during sexual intercourse
  • Take a daily probiotic supplement or eat foods with probiotics to promote a healthy flora
  • Avoid eating foods high in carbohydrates and control blood sugar levels

A Word From Verywell

Anal yeast infections are usually easily treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Your healthcare provider can assess if a yeast infection is the cause of your symptoms and guide you to the best treatment options.

If you have multiple infections, talk with your healthcare provider to see if there is anything else affecting your health, such as diabetes. When treating a yeast infection, finish all of your medication even if your symptoms are gone to make sure the infection has fully cleared. 

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Article Sources
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