Candida is yeast like fungus, which can cause infection in human beings. In a healthy person, these fungi are present on the skin, mouth, gastrointestinal tract and vagina. They usually live harmlessly along with the abundant "native" species of bacteria in the body that normally colonise the mouth, gastrointestinal tract and vagina. Uncontrolled growth and infection with candida is prevented by the native bacteria present in the body and by the body's immune defences. If the mix of native bacteria is affected by antibiotics or there is an injury (breakdown or cuts) in the skin, it may allow this organism to grow and penetrate the skin or mucus membrane to cause infection. Common candida infections include vaginal yeast infection, oral thrush, skin and diaper rash and nail bed infections. In people with a weak immune system, candida causes infection of blood or internal organs (oesophagus, brain).
Prognosis of Candidiasis
Vaginal candidiasis: Most women with vaginal candidiasis respond well to treatment with medications such as miconazole, tioconazole, butoconazole, clotrimazole creams and gels. The infection usually clears in 1-2 weeks of treatment. If the infection takes time to clear or recurs after treatment, it can be because of some other underlying problem such as cancer, AIDS, diabetes, chemotherapy etc that weaken the immune system.
Oral thrush: Oral thrush improves rapidly with treatment in a few days. The doctor may prescribe an antifungal agent called nystatin (creams, lotions, gel) to be applied in the mouth. Apart from nystatin, other treatment options for adults include troches (antifungal lozenges) or pills such as fluconazole. Recurrent thrush may occur in people with cancer, AIDS, diabetes and those having undergone chemotherapy.
Skin and diaper rash: Most skin and diaper rash clear within 1-2 week of treatment with over-the-counter nystatin powders or antifungal (Clotrimazole) creams and lotions. Keeping the affected area clean and dry is important for cure of infection. For diaper rashes, frequent diaper changes and the use of barrier creams improves response to treatment.
Candida infection in people with a weak immune system: Superficial candida infection (vaginal candidiasis, oral thrush, skin rash) in an immune-compromised person (person with a weak immune system) usually improves with medication. The condition, however, can recur or spread to blood or internal organs (brain, oesophagus) in some people. Infection of the blood or internal organ has to be treated aggressively with IV medications such as amphotericin that should be given at the hospital, but response to treatment cannot be predicted. Many people may need anti-fungal medications for weeks to clear the infection. In some cases, the infection may be difficult to control even with treatment and may turn fatal.
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