Candidiasis is a type of yeast (fungal) infection. It can cause infection in healthy people (children and adults) and people with a weak immune system (in any part of the body). Candida infection commonly causes vaginal infection, oral thrush, diaper rash or systemic fungal infection. Signs and symptoms vary depending on the location of the infection.
Vaginal infection: In women, vaginal candidiasis can cause abnormal white discharge that is thick and often described as having a cottage cheese appearance. Other symptoms that may occur include itching or burning in the vaginal area. Only rarely do some women have dysuria or pain while urinating and pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse.
Oral candidiasis: Oral candidiasis or oral thrush can occur in healthy children and adults. It is more common in children than adults. It appears as a creamy, yellow-white or red lesion inside the mouth (tongue, palate or elsewhere inside the mouth). The patches may look like milk curd, but cannot be wiped away easily and may be painful (which can make eating difficult). If the white plaques are removed, it may bleed. In some cases, the tongue may look red without the white coating. Children with oral thrush may refuse to eat and drink and can become dehydrated. Children with oral thrush, who do not take fluids for longer than 12 hours, should be evaluated by a doctor.
Candida skin infection: Candida is a natural inhabitant of skin, but any breakdown or injury to the outer layers of the skin can promote the yeast's growth and infection. This usually occurs in areas where the skin is warm and moist such as in the diaper areas and skin folds. Small lesions called satellite lesions may be present around the main rash. The rash appears red and may cause itching or pain.
Candida infection in people with impaired immunity: Candida infection in a person with a weak immune system is suggestive of poor functioning of the immune system. Candida can cause local infection (oral infection, vaginal infection and rash), systemic infection or infections of various internal organs in the immune-deficient people. Local infection (oral infection, vaginal infection or skin rash) can progress rapidly and cause systemic infection. Symptoms suggestive of systemic infection or serious illness include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting etc. If the infection involves the oesophagus, it is called esophagitis. Candida esophagitis can cause painful ulcers that make swallowing painful. If the infection involves the intestines, food may not be absorbed easily. Infection of the brain with candida may cause acute changes in one’s mental function or behaviour.
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