Diabetes Self-Management Blog

So I get this e-mail from Web Editor Tara Dairman one day asking me if I’ve ever had any experience with diabetes-related yeast infections and would I like to blog about it.

"You want me," I zapped back, "to tell the world about my itchy hooha?"

I thought about it and, in the spirit of being up-front about what it’s like to live with diabetes, decided to go for it.

If any one thing causes me to try and keep my blood glucose under control, it’s to avoid yeast infections which, for about a three-year period back in the day, would absolutely not go away. I itched. I burned. I wriggled and scratched. I wished sandpaper was absorbent and came in a roll. I treated and treated and treated with over-the-counter creams that were formerly available only by prescription. I applied a cream that a doctor prescribed for me. It soothed the itch, but didn’t cure the infection.

It wasn’t until I switched to a female doctor that I finally got somebody who really understood what I was going through. It was a time when Diflucan (fluconazole) was new and the general wisdom was that you need only take one pill, and voila!

Not with diabetes, you don’t. Yeast loves sugar, and I was very sweet in those days. The doc prescribed two pills and a prescription vaginal cream. It took two courses of that for the yeast infection to go away.

And stop snickering, guys: You can get diabetes-related yeast infections, too. In fact, I know of one man who was diagnosed with diabetes when his “little friend,” as he called it, got a red, itchy rash that wouldn’t go away.

Now comes news from a study in India that, in women with diabetes, a 14-day course of using boric acid vaginal suppositories is better at clearing up yeast infections than one Diflucan tablet. (Heck, I coulda told ‘em that one Diflucan won’t work!) At any rate, the researchers found that the cure rate was 64% for women with Candida glabrata infections (a type of yeast infection more common in women with diabetes) who used the suppositories versus a 29% cure rate in those who took one Diflucan.

With my blood glucose under control now, my main risk factor for getting yeast infections is taking antibiotics. I had a particularly bad one a couple of years ago when I got a snakebite while substituting for a fifth-grade teacher. (That’ll teach me to take dares from 10-year-olds!) The school corporation insisted that I go to a doctor, who insisted that I take some major antibiotics. The antibiotics did a number on my stomach and contributed to a raging vaginal yeast infection. I should have just nodded my head and skipped the drugs. It was only a scratch and I immediately washed and disinfected. Well, actually, I shouldn’t have taken the dare to pick up the snake, but what fun is that?

Guys, you can also pick up yeast infections from your partner, so keep away until the lady is over it. While the man may be symptom-free, he can still reinfect his partner, leading the two of you to keep passing the infection back and forth.

Also, my neighbor the med student says that many yeast infections stem from sexual relations when the man hasn’t practiced good hygiene, so wash your “little friend” off good before frolicking.

And keep that blood glucose down. Like a stray kitten or puppy, if you feed it, it’ll keep coming back.

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