What is candidiasis?
Candidiasis is a fungal infection. There are several types of candidiasis:
- If it is in the mouth or throat, it is called oral candidiasis, oropharyngeal candidiasis, or thrush.
- If it affects the genital area, it is called a yeast infection. In women, it may be called a vulvovaginal yeast infection
- If yeast infects the skin on a baby’s bottom area, it causes a diaper rash
- If the infection enters your bloodstream, it is called invasive candidiasis or candidemia.
How do I get candidiasis?
It is caused by the overgrowth of a type of yeast called Candida, usually Candida albicans. This yeast is normally found in small amounts in the human body. But certain medicines and health problems can cause more yeast to grow, particularly in warm, moist body areas. This can cause uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous symptoms. This type of infection is more often seen in people who are or have been in the hospital. It is a leading cause of bloodstream infections and death in hospitalized patients.
You are more likely to get this type of infection if you:
- Are in the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU).
- Have had recent surgery.
- Have a central line (catheter).
- Have a weakened immune system.
- Very low-birth-weight infants also have a higher risk for this type of infection.
Do I have candidiasis?
Vaginal yeast infections are common in women. Common symptoms include:
- Extreme itching in the vaginal area
- Soreness and redness in the vaginal area
- White, thick ‘cottage cheese-like’ discharge from the vagina.
- Painful intercourse
But men can get a yeast infection, too. This is more likely in men who are not circumcised.
Symptoms in men include:
- Red rash on penis
- Itching or burning on the tip of the penis
How do you treat candidiasis?
Several over-the-counter treatments for yeast infections are available. They can be used by both men and women. They come as a cream, ointment, or powder form or a suppository that you place inside the vagina or put on the penis. Research doesn’t show that one works better than another.
If this is the first time you have had a vaginal yeast infection, or you do not get them very often, your doctor may recommend a single, 150-milligram dose of Diflucan (fluconazole). If the infection continues or returns often, you may need anti-fungal medicine every day for 10 to 14 days, and then once a week for six months. Boric acid capsules may also be recommended for up to two weeks.
If you get frequent yeast infections, your doctor may need to investigate why you are having them. The doctor may suggest probiotics to prevent future infections. Probiotics are healthy bacteria similar to those that naturally occur in the intestines. They may be found in supplements, yogurts, and some other foods.
How do you prevent candidiasis?
It is important to get treated for a genital yeast infection. You may pass the infection back and forth to a sexual partner. A good idea is to wear cotton underwear! Try to avoid nylon underwear, pantyhose, and tight jeans because they keep moisture trapped in the genital area.
The key to prevention is keeping your genital area clean and dry. Do not use bubble baths, oils or hygiene sprays. It’s best to wash with plain water or a mild soap and rinse well. Douching can irritate the vaginal lining and is not recommended.
Diet plays a part in prevention too. Eat balanced meals and try to stay away from foods high in sugar.