There are many kinds of fungus that live in the human body, and one type is the Candida. It’s a type of yeast that normally lives in small amounts in places like the mouth and belly, or on the skin without causing any problems.
However, when the environment is right, the yeast can multiply and grow out of control.
Candidiasis (also called thrush or moniliasis), is a yeast infection, and Candida albicans is the organism that is responsible. This organism normally makes a quiet home for itself on your skin and we all carry this organism on our skin, in our mouth, in our gastrointestinal tract (gut), and in the vagina (for women).
There are several different types of candidiasis, and most can be easily treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications.
Candidiasis may infect the blood or internal organs such as the liver or spleen, but the most common problems are skin, mouth and vaginal infections.
It is also, a common cause of diaper rash, and its infections can be bothersome but are rarely life-threatening.
Candidiasis can kill if it reaches the bloodstream or vital organs such as the heart, but this is rare even in people with damaged immune systems.
All the same, candidiasis is a constant nuisance, and sometimes a serious threat to people with AIDS and cancer patients who lack the immune resources to fight it.
Causes of Candidiasis
You don’t get infected with candidiasis, as the yeast is already on our body. A number of factors, however, can increase the chance of the yeast growing out of control.
The leading cause of Candidiasis is the overuse Of Antibiotics:
Yeast competes for the right to live on us with various other organisms, many of the bacteria, which also live on the skin and in the intestine and vagina, among other places.
These other organisms are harmless but good at fighting off yeast, and when we take antibiotics to deal with harmful bacteria, we kill off these harmless ones as well. Yeast, which is unaffected by antibiotics, now moves into the vacated spots once occupied by bacteria and starts to grow and multiply.
Other conditions that tend to encourage yeast include:
- Steroids: Steroids and some cancer medications weaken the immune system and can allow yeast to flourish. Candida albicans infections most often develop in people with diseases such as cancer and AIDS.
- Taking birth control pills increases your chances of getting vaginal candidiasis, and they can also develop in people with diabetes or in people who have long-term irritation resulting from dentures.
- Hot weather, poor hygiene, and tight clothing are also risk factors, as they create the ideal environment for candida to multiply.
- Obesity and pregnancy: Yeast generally infects intertriginous areas, where skin contacts skin. Overweight people have more folds in their skin, and also sweat more, and Candida is fond of moist skin. Pregnancy, on the other hand, causes temporary obesity and may weaken the immune system, increasing the risk of yeast infections.
The infection is not usually spread by sexual contact, and experts disagree on the question of sexual transmission.
Some research has suggested that it’s very unlikely for an infected woman to give a man candidiasis, but on the other hand, it’s not unlikely that a man could give candidiasis back to his partner once he has it.
More likely to get candidiasis are adults who:
- Have diabetes
- are being treated for cancer
- Take medications like corticosteroids and wide-spectrum antibiotics
- Wear dentures
The Symptoms of Candidiasis Include:
- White or yellow patches on the tongue, lips, gums, the roof of the mouth, and inner cheeks for Oral thrush
- Redness or soreness in the mouth and throat
- Cracking at the corners of the mouth
- Pain when swallowing, if it spreads to the throat
- Sometimes it presents as a painful, red, swollen area around the fingernail for candidiasis of the fingernails.
- In worse cases, the fingernail may separate, revealing a discolored white or yellow nail bed.
- Yeast infections of the penis are rare but may cause the tip to be red, swollen, and painful.
- Extreme itchiness in the vagina
- Redness and swelling of the vagina and vulva
- Pain and burning when you pee
- Discomfort during sex
- A thick, white discharge from the vagina
Treatment and Prevention
Candidiasis is a mild disease except in rare cases when it enters the blood and spreads to vital organs of people with weakened immune systems.
For infection of the skin, your doctor can give you an antifungal cream, powder or prescribe you an antifungal tablet. For vaginal yeast infections, treatment consists of antifungal medications that are administered by mouth (e.g., fluconazole), or administered directly into the vagina as tablets, creams, ointments, or suppositories.
For oral thrush, a suspension of antifungal medication can be swished in the mouth and swallowed, and for severe cases, antifungal medication taken by mouth for several days may be needed.
Tell your doctor if you get yeast infections more than four times a year, so that he/she may recommend regular doses of antifungal medication over several months to fight the repeated infections.
Take the treatment even if you are having your period, and do not douche while you are taking the treatment.
You can talk with your doctor or an expert about ways to protect against this, such as wearing cotton underwear and loose clothing.
Genital Yeast Infection (Genital Candidiasis)
Three out of four adult women will get at least one yeast infection during their lifetime when too much yeast grows in the vagina. A yeast infection typically happens when the balance in the vagina changes and that can be caused by pregnancy, diabetes, use of some medicines, lubricants, or a weakened immune system.
Occasionally, the infection can be passed from person to person during sexual intercourse.
Here Are Some Hygiene Tips To Help Prevent Vaginal Candidiasis:
- wipe from front to back after going to the toilet, since the rectal area is full of yeast
- take baths, not showers, since sitting in the bath can clear yeast from the vaginal area
- dry yourself thoroughly afterward, especially the pubic hair, and use a hair dryer on low setting if you have to
- don’t use soap around the vagina, since soap kills the good bacteria, and has no effect on yeast
- Sterilize or throw away underwear that you wore during your last infection. You must also replace any diaphragms or caps used.
- avoid chemicals like deodorant tampons and especially vaginal douches, which may cause infection
- wear loose cotton underwear, and avoid pantyhose and tight pants
- Eat live yogurt, especially if you have been prescribed antibiotics, and cut down on sugar and alcohol.
- Consider changing your birth control pill if you’ve had recurring infections.
- make sure your partner is not infected, as there’s no point curing candidiasis if you’re going to be re-infected
- Don’t take antibiotics if you’ve got a cold or the flu. taking antibiotics won’t help with the flu, as flu is caused by a virus, and they might provoke candidiasis.
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Remember, candidiasis (yeast) is a nuisance infection. To avoid problems, don’t douche, unless your doctor or clinic asks you to and, take treatment as directed until it is finished. Also, use condoms to lower the chance of infections in the future.