Candidiasis: A Skin Condition
Candidiasis is a skin infection caused by yeasts that belong to Candida genus. Out of more than 20 species of Candida, the most common species causing infection in human beings is Candida albicans.
These yeasts are normally present on the skin and mucous membrane, but do not cause any infection. Overgrowth of these organisms leads to the development of symptoms. Candidiasis can occur in any part of the body. The symptoms vary depending on the area affected.
Types of candidiasis:
- Oropharyngeal/esophageal candidiasis
- Genital or vulvovaginal candidiasis
- Invasive candidiasis
Candidiasis which occurs in the throat or mouth is called oropharyngeal candidiasis or ‘thrush’. In this type, white patches or plaques develop on the tongue and mucous membranes of other parts in the oral cavity. This type of candidiasis is not common in healthy adults.
Genital or vulvovaginal candidiasis:
This type of candidiasis infection occurs when there is overgrowth of yeast present in the vagina. So it is called as vulvovaginal candidiasis or yeast infection. This is a common type of yeast infection among adult women and is estimated that nearly 75 percent of women have had this infection at least once in their lifetime.
Invasive candidiasis or candidemia is the infection where the yeast enters the blood stream. It is the fourth most common blood infections responsible for hospitalization of patients in United States.
Normally, there are many species of yeast living on the skin, but they grow more in warm and moist conditions. Candida albicans is the most common yeast causing infection.
The factors which lead to overgrowth of this yeast include:
- Warm weather
- Improper hygiene
- Tight clothing
- Infrequent undergarment changing
- Taking antibiotics which kill normal flora
- Reduced immunity due to diabetes, pregnancy or drugs like steroids
When the diaper of a baby provides a warm and moist environment, candidiasis is likely to occur on the buttocks of the baby.
Candidiasis can occur in obese patients in between the skin folds.
Based on the type of candidiasis there are different symptoms which include:
- White patches in on tongue, palate, inner cheeks and sometimes on tonsils and gums
- Soreness in mouth causing difficulty in eating and swallowing
- Slight bleeding when the white lesions get scraped or rubbed
- Redness and cracking at corners of the mouth
- Cottony feeling in mouth
- Loss of taste
- Vaginal itching
- Red, irritated skin of the labia
- Vaginal discharge which is thick, white and clumpy
- Painful urination
- Pain while having intercourse
There are no specific symptoms of invasive candidiasis. The usual symptoms are fever and chills which do not reduce after antibiotic therapy. Additional symptoms may develop if the infection spreads to other organs such as liver, kidneys, bones, muscles, eyes or spleen. The organ affected may stop functioning if the infection is not resolved.
First the physical examination is done by the physician to check for symptoms and recognize the infection. To further confirm the yeast infection, the following tests are used in the diagnosis of candidiasis:
- Mucocutaneous candidiasis: The scrapings or smears obtained from the oral mucosa are examined under the microscope for the presence of fungal cells. Gram stain, methylene blue or potassium hydroxide smear are useful for this purpose.
- Cutaneous candidiasis: The scrapings obtained from the skin or nails can be helpful to detect the presence of yeast. For this test potassium hydroxide smears are useful.
- Genitourinary candidiasis: Analysis of urine is done to detect genitourinary infection of yeast. Presence of red blood cells, white blood cells, proteins and yeast cells indicate infection.
The treatment of candidiasis mainly involves the use of antifungal antibiotics. The following treatments are done for various types of candidiasis:
- Cutaneous candidiasis: The drugs mostly used in the treatment of Candidiasis of skin include antifungal drugs like econazole, clotrimazole, miconazole, ciclopirox, nystatin and ketoconazole.
- Mucocutaneous candidiasis: Candidiasis infection which occurs in the mucocutaneous tissues such as mouth and throat is treated with oral azoles.
- Oropharyngeal candidiasis: this type of candidiasis infection is treated using topical antifungal drugs or by systemic oral azole drugs.
- Esophageal candidiasis: it can be treated by using systemic therapy with antifungal drug fluconazole.
- Vulvovaginal candidiasis: oral fluconazole or topical antifungal agents can be used in the treatment of this type of yeast infection.
- Maintain good oral health
- Brush teeth every day, use an antiseptic mouthwash
- Reduce or avoid intake of sugar as it is food for candida
- Avoid consumption of alcohol as alcohol gets converted to sugar and it serves as food for growth of candida
- Eat large amounts of garlic as it has antifungal properties
- Have milk or curd as it has probiotic bacteria which fight against harmful bacteria
- Wear loose fitting clothes to allow proper ventilation.
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