Candidiasis is an infection caused by a group of microscopic yeast-like fungi called candida. There are several species of Candida that can cause infection, the most common being Candida albicans. These fungi are normal inhabitants on all surfaces of our body, but in some conditions (such as warm and moist areas), they increase in number and become big enough to cause infections. The skin acts as a barrier to infection caused by yeast, but any injury (breakdown or cuts) in the skin may allow this organism to penetrate.
Common types of candida infection: Some common candida infections include vaginal yeast infection, oral thrush, diaper rash and nail bed infections. Oral thrush and diaper rash are a common type of candida infections in babies. Vaginal yeast infection (vaginal candidiasis) is the most common form of vaginitis in women. Other sites in which yeast infection can occur in adults include skin folds under the breast and lower abdomen, nail beds and beneath other skin folds. In adults, oral thrush is more common at a later age.
Candida in immune-compromised: Candida infection is common in people with a weak immune system. It suggests 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 immune-deficient people. Unlike candida infection in healthy people, which is superficial and responds well to treatment, even local infection (oral infection, vaginal infection, skin rash) in immune-compromised people can progress rapidly and cause systemic infection.
Diagnosis of candida infection: Candida infection can be diagnosed clinically in healthy people (that is by visual inspection without laboratory tests). Laboratory tests are recommended when the infection won't go away, involve the entire body or if you are immune-compromised (have a weak immune system).Recurrent yeast infection may occur due to some more serious diseases such as diabetes, leukaemia or AIDS.
Treatment of candidiasis: In healthy people, candida infection can be treated with over-the-counter products. Most yeast infections are superficial and respond well to treatment. Infection of the nail bed usually needs prolonged therapy. Any form of candidiasis in a person with a weak immune system needs a visit to doctor. Fever, chills, nausea, vomiting etc associated with candidiasis is suggestive of a more serious illness, which needs prompt investigation and aggressive treatment.
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