Candidiasis is more commonly known as a yeast infection. Candida occurs naturally in the intestines, on the skin, and on female genitalia. However, it can cause infections that require anti-fungal medication. The most common form of candidiasis infects the vagina, mouth, and/or the skin. It can be very uncomfortable, and it can also cause much more serious complications for those with compromised immune systems and certain diseases. It occurs more frequently when taking antibiotics, while pregnant, and in those with diabetes, cancer or AIDS.
The symptoms of candidiasis depend on the location of the infection.
In the mouth it is more commonly known as trench mouth or thrush, and it causes a sore, red and smooth tongue. The corners of the mouth can become cracked, and milky white patches appear in the mouth. If it infects the esophagus, swallowing can be very painful. When candidiasis infects the skin, it itches and burns. It can also cause certain types of diaper rash in male as well as female babies.
If the infection is severe and spreads to internal areas of the body, the patient can develop a heart murmur, a fever, a decrease in urine output, shock (low blood pressure) and/or an enlarged spleen. When infecting the retina and the inner areas of the eye, blindness can occur.
In normal circumstances, small amounts of the candida yeast live in the mouth, in the digestive tract, and on the skin harmlessly. Certain environmental circumstances can cause the fungal infection called candidiasis.
Candidiasis of the throat and mouth, called thrush, occurs mostly in infants, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. In infants, thrush is common and usually goes away within a week. It is possible for thrush to infect a breastfeeding mother’s nipples and breast milk ducts, especially after antibiotic use.
Candidiasis may also infect the vagina, and is called ‘vaginal candidiasis’, ‘vaginitis’ or, more commonly, ‘vaginal yeast infection’. Vaginal candidiasis is not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI) because women who are not sexually active may be infected by it. Note that vaginal candidiasis is not necessarily caused by poor personal hygiene, and that most women in their lifetimes suffer from at least one infection.
More serious and complex candidiasis infections can be life-threatening.
Candidiasis is easily treated if it has not spread throughout the body and if the patient is otherwise healthy.
It is typically treated with topical antifungal medication that is applied directly to infected areas of the skin. An oral antifungal drug might also be prescribed.
If the infection has entered other areas of the body, intravenous medication is usually required. Diabetics with candidiasis can assist in a cure by maintaining proper blood sugar levels. Without proper treatment, this type of infection will advance.
You can prevent candidiasis infection of the mouth and throat, or thrush.
You can also prevent the spread of thrush to infants by washing and boiling bottle nipples and pacifiers, keeping bottles and bottle nipples in the refrigerator, and changing infant diapers immediately after they have been soiled.