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Can wearing a wet bathing suit cause yeast infections?

Suiting up for swimsuit season? Don’t forget to change out of your wet or damp bathing suit after stepping out of the pool.  Wearing a wet bathing suit for too long can lead to a vaginal yeast infection.

“Bathing suits are the perfect breeding ground for yeast,” says Tia Guster, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist at Piedmont.  “You have moisture in an intimate area that is warm and dark. These are the types of conditions where yeast and bacteria thrive.”

What is a vaginal yeast infection?

A vaginal yeast infection is a fungal infection caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans.  This causes the skin on and around the vulva to become red, itchy and inflamed and may be accompanied by an odor-free discharge that looks like cottage cheese.

“Sometimes people have a little bit of spotting if it’s a really bad yeast infection,” says Dr. Guster.

Certain medical conditions make women more susceptible to yeast infections. Women who are pregnant, obese, diabetic or immunocompromised are more likely to develop yeast infections.

How are yeast infections treated?

Yeast infections are very common and fortunately, you can treat them with over-the-counter solutions,” says Dr. Guster. “Most treatments come in one- day, three-day or seven-day options, and they include an antifungal to treat the infection and a steroid cream or anti-inflammatory agent to calm down the irritation.”

Some antifungals can also be taken orally.

If you use an over-the-counter medication and your symptoms persist, or if you notice bleeding or large amounts of discharge, contact your doctor.

Tips to prevent yeast infections

Yeast infections are uncomfortable, but don’t hang up your towel just yet. Dr. Guster has a few tips to keep them at bay:

  • Change out of your wet swimsuit. Don’t lounge around in a wet swimsuit. Change into a new, dry swimsuit. Or you can wash your wet swimsuit and use a blow dryer to expedite the drying process.
  • Wear loose, flowy clothing. “If you're going to have your bathing suit on all day, wear a sarong, dress or loose fitting shorts that let air circulate and get that area dry faster,” says Dr. Guster.
  • Choose a swimsuit with moisture wicking protection. Moisture wicking bathing suits remove moisture from your skin and bring it to the surface of your swimsuit until it evaporates.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with a gynecologist near you, we can help you Find A Doc.

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