Candidiasis is a fungal infection that can affect areas such as the:
It is caused by the overgrowth of a type of yeast called Candida, usually Candida albicans. This yeast is normally found in small amounts in the human body.
But certain medicines and health problems can cause more yeast to grow, particularly in warm, moist body areas. This can cause uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous symptoms.
There are several types of candidiasis:
- If it is in the mouth or throat, it is called oral candidiasis, oropharyngeal candidiasis, or thrush.
- If it affects the genital area, it is called a yeast infection. In women, it may be called a vulvovaginal yeast infection.
- If yeast infects the skin on a baby's bottom area, it causes a diaper rash.
- If the infection enters your bloodstream, it is called invasive candidiasis or candidemia.
Symptoms and treatment depend on which part of the body is infected.
Oral Candidiasis (Thrush)
A yeast infection of the mouth or throat area is called thrush. Healthy adults do not usually get thrush. It is most often seen in:
- Patients getting chemotherapy
- People with AIDS or other conditions that weaken the immune system
Common symptoms include:
- White spots inside the mouth and on the tongue
- Redness or discomfort in the mouth area
- Sore throat and difficulty swallowing
- Cracking at corners of the mouth where your lips meet
It is important to see your doctor if you have thrush. Untreated, it may infect your bloodstream, which can be very dangerous. Treatment depends on your:
- Overall health
- Severity of the infection
In general, if you have thrush, your doctor will give you antifungal medicine to kill the yeast. This medicine may come in a mouthwash or a pill that you swallow or that dissolves in your mouth.
If the infection does not go away and becomes life threatening, you may be given a powerful antifungal drug given through a vein (IV).
Yeast Infection of the Genitals
Vaginal yeast infections are common in women. Common symptoms include:
- Extreme itching in the vaginal area
- Soreness and redness in the vaginal area
- White, clumpy vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese
- Painful intercourse
But men can get a yeast infection, too. This is more likely in men who are not circumcised.
Symptoms in men include:
It is important to get treated for a genital yeast infection. You may pass the infection back and forth to a sexual partner.
Several over-the-counter treatments for yeast infections are available. They can be used by both men and women. They come as a cream or suppository that you place inside the vagina or put on the penis. Research doesn't show that one works better than another.
Always make sure you are properly diagnosed before trying to treat yourself at home.
If the infection continues or returns often, you may need anti-fungal medicine every day for 10 to 14 days, and then once a week for six months.
Boric acid capsules may also be recommended for up to two weeks.
If you get frequent yeast infections, your doctor may need to investigate why you are having them. The doctor may suggest probiotics to prevent future infections. Probiotics are healthy bacteria similar to those that naturally occur in the intestines. They may be found in supplements, yogurts, and some other foods.
- Dark red patches of skin in the diaper area, especially in the folds of skin near the thighs.
- Yellow, fluid-filled spots that can break open and become flaky.
Call your pediatrician if your baby has a diaper rash that gets worse or concerns you. It is important to find out what is causing the diaper rash.
If yeast is the cause, your doctor will recommend antifungal medicine to place on the sore, irritated skin. This medicine comes in cream, ointment, or powder form.
Do not use any over-the-counter yeast infection products before talking to your child's doctor.
Invasive Yeast Infection
If Candida yeast gets into your bloodstream, it can spread to other parts of the body. This type of infection is also called candidemia.
This infection may happen if you have a weakened immune system and a yeast infection goes untreated. Or it may occur if you come in contact with medical equipment contaminated by the fungus.
This type of infection is more often seen in people who are or have been in the hospital. It is a leading cause of bloodstream infections and death in hospitalized patients.
You are more likely to get this type of infection if you:
- Are in the hospital's intensive care unit (ICU).
- Have had recent surgery.
- Have a central line (catheter).
- Have a weakened immune system.
Very low-birth-weight infants also have a higher risk for this type of infection.
Invasive candidiasis is a very serious condition that requires prompt treatment. You will be given antifungal medicine by mouth or through an IV for several weeks.