Candidiasis is a fungal infection caused by more than 20 species of Candida, which albicans is the most common. Depending on the patient's state of immunity, the infection can either be superficial or systemic. In a relatively healthy person, Candidiasis may be as minor as skin or nail bed infection, or thrush. And in an immune system compromised person, the infection can be systemic or life threatening.
Candida are often found in warm, moist areas of the human body such as the underarm, mouth, genitalia, and even in the gastrointestinal tracts. The pathogen is also found in skin folds, dentures, and the nail beds. Candida is not harmful if its population count is kept at a low end, but it can start infecting once its population reaches a threshold level.
The most common type of Candidiasis is the superficial type, which is mostly observed in people with good immune system. The cause may just be a heightened Candida count or a cut on the skin that facilitated pathogen entry. Some common examples of superficial Candidiasis are yeast infection in the vagina or urethra, thrush, fungal skin infection, and diaper rash among babies. These conditions can be treated superficially with topical antifungal cream or oral antifungal preparation. When treated appropriately, the condition is not life threatening.
Systemic Candidiasis on the other hand is serious. People with compromised immune system such as AIDS or Leukemia sufferers and patients undergoing chemo or radio treatment are the most prone to develop systemic Candidiasis. The infection could spread to multiple organs of the body such as the kidney, brain, heart, liver, colon, and the reproductive organs. The infection could cause multiple organ failure if aggressive treatment is not done. Treatment involves oral and intravenous antifungal medication administered in a hospital setting.
Common Candidiasis diseases and their symptoms
1. Vaginal yeast infection - This can affect women of all ages. When the Candida population rose to the threshold level or the immune system is somewhat weaken, the vaginal infection can occur. Pregnancy, diabetes, oral contraceptives, antibiotics, douches, and even feminine hygiene sprays are risk factors of vaginal Candidiasis. The common complains include burning sensation, itching, irritation, and painful urination and intercourse. Whitish-gray, cottage cheese like discharge is also observed in rare cases.
2. Oral Thrush - This condition can affect people of all ages, but it's particularly common to babies and people with weak immune system. It can manifest through white lesions on the tongue, inner cheeks, gums, tonsil, and throat. The lesions could be painful and they may bleed when force is applied. The corners of the mouth could also crack and loss of taste is also common in people with oral thrush.
3. Skin Candidiasis - This fungal infection can occur in nail beds, between toes and fingers, genital area in men and women, around the anus, and in skin folds. Its common form is the diaper rash among babies. It can manifest as redness on the skin, which can progress to patches and pustules if not treated with topical antifungal immediately. Nail bed infection can appear as swelling and pus discharge as well as burning sensation is also common.