Know the basics
What is candidiasis?
Candidiasis is a fungal infection that is caused by a type of fungus or yeast called Candida, usually Candida albicans. Candidiasis can affect the genital areas, mouth, skin and blood . Moreover, certain medicines and health problems can cause more yeast to grow, particularly in warm, moist body areas. Candidiasis in the vagina is called yeast vaginitis while infections in the mouth is commonly known as thrush. Signs of candidiasis vary depending on the area of infection. You may have red or white patches that cause itching and irritation. Other signs include difficulty swallowing or pain.
Candidiasis can cause discomfort but is rarely life-threatening. There are some forms of candidiasis that are serious and will need medical treatment. These may include candidiasis that enter your bloodstream, also known as candidemia or invasive candidiasis.
How common is candidiasis?
Candidiasis is very common, especially in women. Although candidiasis can affect men as well as children. Candidiasis most often affects people with a weak immune system such as pregnant women, diabetics, babies and people who have HIV or AIDS. You can lower your chances of getting candidiasis through handwashing and proper personal hygiene.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of candidiasis?
Symptoms of candidiasis can vary and depend on the area of infection. Here are some common symptoms that can occur:
- Skin area. You may have red or white patches on the skin that are itchy, burning and inflamed.
- Genital area. In women, vaginal yeast infections can show symptoms of extreme itching, redness and soreness in the vaginal area. The vaginal discharge may look white and clumpy. For men, symptoms may include pain, itching or burning on the tip of the penis. Both men and women may experience pain during sex.
- Mouth and esophagus. Often called thrush, can cause white patches on the tongue and mouth. The gums may also be swollen with red and white sores. Candida esophagitis that affects the esophagus can cause pain and difficulty when swallowing.
- Bloodstream and other organs. Also known as candidemia can show symptoms of fever and chills
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor for more information.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Any symptom that worsen or do not resolve within a week.
- Creamy white lesions on your tongue, inner cheeks, and sometimes on the roof of your mouth, gums and tonsils.
- Slightly raised lesions with a cottage cheese-like appearance.
- Redness or soreness that may be severe enough to cause difficulty eating or swallowing.
- Slight bleeding if the lesions are rubbed or scraped.
- Cracking and redness at the corners of your mouth (especially in denture wearers).
Know the causes
What causes candidiasis?
The common cause of candidiasis is a fungal or yeast called Candida, more specifically known as Candida albicans.This fungus is found almost everywhere, even inside your body. It grows in areas where there is more moisture and heat such as the genital areas and the certain areas on the skin. It can grow in people who have a weak immune system such as pregnant women, people with diabetes or HIV or AIDs. Taking antibiotics for a prolonged time can kill the natural bacteria that is found in your body, allowing Candida to grow.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for candidiasis?
There are many risk factors for candidiasis, such as:
- Having a weak immune system (babies, pregnant women, elders);
- Taking certain medications, such as antibiotics, oral or inhaled corticosteroids;
- Undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer;
- Having conditions that cause dry mouth;
- Women with increased estrogen levels;
- Having poorly controlled diabetes;
- Being sexually active may increase your chance of infection (Candidiasis is not considered a sexual transmitted disease);
- Poor hygiene habits;
- Wearing dentures.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is candidiasis diagnosed?
Depending on the type of infection, your doctor will review your medical history and perform a complete physical examination. The doctor will use a swab to take samples from the affected area such as the genitals or mouth and send them to a laboratory for diagnosis. In more severe cases, an ultrasound or CT scan will be needed to examine the brain, kidney, liver or spleen for any candida lesions.
How is candidiasis treated?
Candidiasis is treated by using antifungals, a class of drugs used to treat fungal infections. The specific type of antifungal depends on the type of the fungal infection. You should consult with your doctor to find the right treatment for you. Your doctor may recommend the following:
- Mouth and airway: nystatin, clotrimazole, fluconazole, itraconazole
- Esophagus: nystatin, fluconazole, itraconazole
- Skin area: topical medicines such as nystatin, miconazole, clotrimazole, naftifine, and ketoconazole, among others
- Vaginal area: topical clotrimazole, miconazole, butoconazole, terconazole, tioconazole
- Bloodstream: anidulafungin, caspofungin, micafungin or amphotericin B
The drugs mentioned above are just examples. You should talk to your doctor if you have any questions about your prescription. Make sure to finish your full course of therapy. It will help to also wear loose fitting clothes and keep your skin cool and dry. Vaginal candidiasis will usually clear up in 4 to 7 days. Mouth and skin candidiasis may clear up sooner, within 1 or 2 weeks.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage candidiasis?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Candidiasis:
- Practice good dental hygiene. Brush at least twice a day and floss at least once daily. Replace your toothbrush often until your infection clears up. You should not share toothbrushes.
- Try warm saltwater rinses. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 milliliters) of salt in 1 cup (237 milliliters) of warm water. Swish the rinse and then spit it out, but don’t swallow.
- Use nursing pads. If you’re breast-feeding and develop a fungal infection, use pads to help prevent the fungus from spreading to your clothes. Look for pads that don’t have a plastic barrier, which can encourage the growth of candida. If you’re not using disposable pads, wash the nursing pads and your bras in hot water with bleach.
- Control sugar levels. Ensure your blood sugar level is kept under control, if you have diabetes
- Avoid potential irritants. Irritants such as perfumed soaps, shower gels, vaginal deodorants, wipes and douches can cause or worsen your infection.
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothes. Tight underwear, leggings and pants can cause genital areas to be moist and warm, leading to infection.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012. Print version. Page 79.
Thrush and other candida infections. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/infections/Pages/Thrush-and- Other-Candida- Infections.aspx. Accessed June 2, 2016.
Candidiasis. http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/infections/fungal-infections/candidiasis. Accessed June 2, 2016.
Candidiasis (Yeast Infection). http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems- and-treatments/guide/candidiasis-yeast- infection. Accessed June 2, 2016.
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017