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What is Candida Infection?

Candida is a type of fungus found in small quantities on the body. When it multiplies in number, it causes candida infection. This infection targets different parts of the body or organs and are differentiated accordingly.


Types of candida infections are oral thrush, athlete's foot, genital yeast infection etc. Symptoms observed due to this infection are rashes, scaling or shading of infected skin, soreness, cracks in the skin or blisters etc. This infection increases when the conditions are favourable for the organism to multiply or when your immune system is weak, if you are obese, working or living in unhealthy surroundings etc. Candida infection is treatable with some antifungal creams and powder or oral medication. To know more about the infection, read the article below.

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About Candida Infection

We have several bacteria and fungi living and growing on our skin, some of which lead to severe skin infections. However, your daily bodily functions help wash these off your skin naturally. But if the cleanliness of the surrounding and personal hygiene is not maintained, these can multiply uncontrollably and cause issues over time.

Candida Infection

Image Source: Pharmaceutical Journal

The candida fungus is one of the harmful organisms that can develop skin infection on your body. This infectious condition is commonly known as candidiasis of the skin or cutaneous candidiasis. However, candidiasis can develop on different body parts/organs, and thus, are classified in the following types. 

Types of  Candida

  1. Thrush (Oropharyngeal Candidiasis): When the candida organism spreads to your mouth and throat, the infection is known as thrush. It is quite common in babies and senior citizens due to their weak immunity.

  2. Genital Yeast Infection (Genital Candidiasis): This infection is common in women and can rarely develop in men too. In women, genital yeast infection occurs when the balance in vagina is disturbed. It can be contagious during sexual intercourse. This type of candidiasis in men causes an itchy rash on their genitals. 

  3. Invasive Candidiasis: When the organism enters your bloodstream, it causes a life-threatening infection known as invasive candidiasis. People who are recently admitted to the hospital or live in a health care unit (a nursing home) usually contract this infection. You are at risk of developing this infection if you have a weak immune system, kidney failure issues, diabetes, etc.

When it comes to candidiasis of the skin, you will observe a red and itchy rash in the infected area, which can spread to different parts of the body if not treated soon. In this section, we’ve discussed the candidiasis causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention in detail. Let us begin by understanding the symptoms of candidiasis.

Symptoms of Candidiasis

Depending on where the candida infection has occurred, the symptoms may vary. However, a few common candida symptoms are as follows -

  • Skin rashes

  • Red or purple patches in the infected area

  • Scaling or shedding of the infected skin

  • Cracks in the skin

  • Soreness

  • In some cases, blisters and  pustules may occur

Other skin conditions that can resemble candidiasis include:

  • Ringworm

  • Hives

  • Herpes

  • Diabetes-related skin infections

  • Eczema

  • Psoriasis

Causes of Candidiasis

While the candida skin infection can develop on any part of the body, they are quite common in intertriginous regions (two skin areas that touch or run against each other). When the infection is between the intertriginous folds of the skin, it is known as candidal intertrigo. It is common in armpits, groin area, between fingers and toes, etc. and thrives in warm, moist, and sweaty conditions.

Ideally, healthy skin acts as a barrier between the infection, restricting it from entering your body. But cuts or breakouts in your skin can allow the fungus to penetrate in your skin tissues and cause infection. The candida organism becomes active when conditions are favourable for it to spread and multiply.

So, if you’re someone with poor hygiene or live in hot and humid weather conditions with unhealthy surroundings, chances of you contracting this infection are more. Besides, there are a few risk factors that can lead to developing candida infections. These include:

  • A weak immunity (especially babies or senior citizens)

  • Being overweight or obese (use a BMI calculator to determine your weight category)

  • If you have an underactive thyroid gland or hypothyroidism

  • Inflammatory disorders

  • If you work in wet areas or conditions

  • Pregnant women

Moreover, a few medications can also increase the risk of acquiring candida skin infection. One of the most problematic medications is a topical corticosteroid. Birth control pills and a few antibiotics can also cause this infection. In case you’re prescribed these medications by your doctor, it is recommended to monitor your skin regularly for abnormalities.

Candida Infection in Children

Children are more prone to candida infection. It can cause them discomfort and pain (extreme cases), making them restless and irritated. We’ve enlisted symptoms of candida infection in babies and older children below. 

The symptoms in babies and toddlers include:

  • Persistent or heavy diaper rash

  • Skin rashes or eczema

  • White or yellow patches on the tongue or inside their mouth/cheeks

  • Recurring ear infections

In older children, the symptoms are as follows:

  • Constant craving of sweets

  • Learning disabilities

  • Feeling of irritation

  • Recurring ear infections

The treatment procedure in children depends on the type of candida infection. The doctor can prescribe topical medication or antifungal medication (which can at times be oral). The recovery can take up to two weeks, although the recurrence of the infection is common. 

Diagnosis of Candidiasis

You or the doctor can diagnose candida infection by its appearance on the skin. The doctor might collect your skin scraping, nail clippings, or pluck hair from the infected area for further examination. Once the infection is determined to be candidiasis, it is important to address its underlying cause. 

For this, you will be advised to change your current lifestyle and maintain a more healthy personal hygiene, lose weight (in case of obesity), or control your diabetes. However, it is essential to consult a doctor before you follow these recommendations and are experiencing such a skin infection for the first time. 

Candida is a recurring skin infection, so you might have to visit your doctor more than once after contracting the disease.

Treatment for Candidiasis

Candida infection is treatable in most cases. There is no need for hospitalisation unless you have weak immunity or the infection has spread to your bloodstream. When it comes to candidiasis of the skin, the doctors will:

  • Prescribe a drying antifungal cream or ointment to apply to the infected skin area

  • In some cases, an oral medication dose will also be available

Over-the-counter drugs such as ketoconazole or clotrimazole are usually recommended by doctors for candida treatment. These are topical medications and are available in ointments, creams, and tablets. Besides, they don’t tend to have any serious side effects. 

On the other hand, depending on the type of candida infection, different drugs will be used for the treatment. For instance -

  • Prescription of vaginal gel/cream such as miconazole is given in cases of vaginal yeast infections

  • Thrush is treated with antifungals such as lozenges, tablets, or liquid mouthwash that can be swallowed

  • Athlete’s foot is treated with sprays, powders, and ointments

  • Other severe candida infections are treated with oral or intravenous medications

A few potential side effects of some of these medications include:

  • Itching in the affected area after application

  • Redness or mild burning sensation

  • Headache

  • Indigestion or stomach distress

  • Rashes on the skin

In the case of intravenous antifungals, the negative side effects may include:

  • Loss of appetite

  • Feeling of sickness

  • Diarrhoea

  • Muscle pain

  • Rashes

It is important to note that if you are suffering from liver damage, do not use antifungal medicines without your doctor’s permission. Antifungal medication can lead to liver damage in some healthy patients. So, if you’re already suffering from liver damage, it can lead to serious health complications.

Prevention of Candidiasis

There are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of candida infections. For instance -

  • Wear dry-fit clothes that absorb sweat from your skin quickly

  • Practice healthy hygiene

  • Take a shower daily, especially after workouts and other intensive activities

  • In case you are overweight or obese, look for ways to reduce and maintain a healthy weight

  • Wear sandals or open-toe footwears during the hot season

  • Change and wash your socks and undergarments often

Wrapping Up

Candida infection is curable and can be treated well before the spread. Taking precaution and following good personal hygiene will reduce the risk of its multiplication and causing health complications. However, if the infection does lead to serious health issues, where the infection enters your bloodstream, seek medical attention immediately.

If you are worried about the cost of treatment of these complications, get in touch with your insurer. They will be able to provide a clearer picture of whether such health concerns are covered under your health insurance plan. If you do not have a health insurance policy, take this as your cue to buy one as soon as possible.

Know that the sooner you treat the skin infection, the sooner you will be able to stop its spread. Seek your doctor’s care immediately if the infection is accompanied by abdominal pain and high fever.

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