Ugly discharge equals ugly bubbles.
February 7, 2007 8:25 AM   Subscribe

Bath bubbles change in the presence of a yeast infection. Why?

When I have a yeast infection, the bubbles in my bath take on an odd characteristic. The edges of the normally round bubble patches become ragged; it's a bit reminiscent of the (detailed) outline of countries on a map. An (unsurprisingly?) clotted, curdled look.

This happens so reliably that it's a better early indicator of when something's wrong than anything else. The bubble alteration gradually decreases as the Monistat kicks in.

I use a baby body wash; no bar soap. Regular soap has been banned from the tub (allergies), so it's not a reaction to anything saponified.

What's going on there that makes the bubbles change?

And: would be fascinated to hear if anybody else has noticed this, though given the popularity of showers over tub baths these days, I'm not holding my breath.
posted by kmennie to Science & Nature (7 answers total)
All I can say is that that if you are getting yeast infections often enough to notice how your bubble bath looks when you have one, have you considered it might be the bath causing it? Regularly sitting in a warm tub with soap in your vagina just ain't the greatest idea. I know you didn't ask, I'm just sayin.' As for your bubble idea.
posted by metasav at 9:32 AM on February 7, 2007

That's an interesting observation for which I have no answer.

But googling yeast infection bubble bath turned up more than one site that said not to take bubble baths. Since this is apparently a fairly frequent issue it's probably worth avoiding bubble baths for awhile to see if that makes a change in frequency. It was unclear whether baths themselves were a problem; one site said not to take baths and another said they could be soothing. But it's probably not a bad idea to try showers only, for awhile at least. Then, if the infections stay gone, you could add back just bathing and see if that brings them back.

IANAD, in fact, IANAW.
posted by 6550 at 10:16 AM on February 7, 2007

Response by poster: Not bubble bath. Just the foam left from a normal amount of body wash.

And the observation's been made over years and years -- but it's on my mind more now given pregnancy.

All it takes is a minute amount of, er, yeast to get the effect, and the soap doesn't, er, travel.

NB: Bread yeast doesn't produce the same effect.
posted by kmennie at 10:31 AM on February 7, 2007

Are you using monistat at the time of the bath? Given it's carried in a shortening-like cream, it might be doing something to the bath bubbles.
posted by lleachie at 11:14 AM on February 7, 2007

Response by poster: Monistat: only eventually. The bubble bit happens before, and with, the cream -- for the first bit; the bubbles go back to normal as the infection goes away.

It's 'sensitive' enough, this bubble thing, that I can often notice it, fiddle with my diet, and not end up with a full-blown infection.

Really -- this doesn't happen to anybody else, and nobody has any idea? I'm stunned...
posted by kmennie at 11:43 AM on February 7, 2007

Best answer: I am not professionally qualified in any way here, but my first thought would be that some byproduct of the yeast's metabolism is affecting the surface tension of the water.

Probably unrelated, but byproducts of brewer's yeast include:
* acetaldehyde
* diacetyl
* dimethyl sulfide (DMS)
* phenolic
* sulfur
posted by Skorgu at 12:13 PM on February 7, 2007

Best answer: I bet Skorgu is right, but he left one critical yeast metabolite off of his list:
*carbon dioxide.

The yeast are producing carbon dioxide at the edges of your bigger bubbles, and that CO2 is producing little tiny bubbles which gives a ragged appearance.
posted by jamjam at 12:32 PM on February 7, 2007

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