There are various types of yeasts and fungi that live in the body. Most of the time, they cause no problems at all. In fact, you’ll usually have a small amount of them daily in the mouth or within the skin and not really know about it. However, every now and then the fungus will grow and causes a problem.
Candida is just one type of fungus. It’s one of the most common and can cause an infection known as candidiasis. There are high chances that you’ve had one of these infections in the past, whether you’ve had a fungal nail infection, thrush or even athlete’s foot.
Getting treatment for your condition is usually necessary. Most of the time you can use over the counter options, but you may need to get a prescription if you have an aggressive form of the yeast.
Make sure you know the symptoms and steps to take. It’s also important to take steps to prevent the spread of the infection, as it’s highly contagious. Here’s everything you need to know about Candida fungus infections and what to do.
The Common Types of Candidiasis
Did you know that babies can get yeast infections? In fact, many can suffer from them regularly. It’s commonly referred to as a diaper rash.
The yeast multiples due to the damp heat within the diaper, either just to a wet or dirty diaper. The skin on the bottom becomes irritated and infected. It can start off relatively small, with a little redness and inflammation. However, this can get worse to the point where the skin is cracked and oozing. Your doctor will usually prescribe a cream to help treat the condition if it gets severe. However, there are a number of diaper rash creams that help to heal the skin and prevent the yeast infection from spreading.
Every baby is different. Some will have no problems at all for months at a time and suffer usually after a bad case of constipation or diarrhea. Others can break out routinely. Parents can use barrier creams to prevent the fungus infection occurring, which is sometimes recommended if your child has a habit of developing a diaper rash.
Children and adults also suffer from routine yeast infections. One is known as thrush, which can occur in the mouth or around the genitals. The problems usually occur when the yeast balance within the body changes. This could be due to the use of antibiotics, another medical condition or due to a sexually transmitted infection.
Both are treated with similar medications. However, genital thrush is usually managed with a cream, which doesn’t just heal but also soothes the symptoms.
Oral thrush is more common than genital thrush in children. It is also more common for men than genital thrust. The vagina houses a lot of fungi naturally and also has the perfect location for the yeasts developing.
There are also nail infections and athlete’s foot that is caused by yeast infections. In some cases, over the counter medications are enough, but your doctor may need to prescribe something stronger, especially if the infection is in the nail bed.
Symptoms of Oral Thrush
Oral thrush is common in those who have taken antibiotics, are being treated for cancer, have dentures, or have diabetes. Newborns and the elderly are more likely to get it, along with those with weakened immune systems.
The mouth usually contains some of the Candida. Most of the time, it can handle the levels, but this can spread. As the mouth is damp and warm, it’s not surprising that the fungus spread.
You’ll usually start with some redness and inflammation of the mouth and throat. The corners of the mouth can start to crack and you may experience some pain in swallowing. The latter is usually when the infection has spread to the throat.
One of the most common symptoms is yellow or white patches around the mouth. They can appear on the lips, the tongue, the gums, inside the cheeks, and even the roof of the mouth. If you doctor spots these, they will usually prescribe oral treatments right away.
If you’re a risk for developing it, such as with an already weak immune system, your doctor may suggest a chlorhexidine mouthwash. This helps to keep the levels of the Candida down naturally, preventing the infection occurs.
Symptoms of Genital Thrush
Three-quarters of adult females will have one yeast infection in their lifetime at least. It’s so common that you’ll usually see adverts for medications regularly. Men can also suffer, but this is less likely. The symptoms are very similar, though.
In women, yeast lives in the vagina normally. Like with the mouth, this is usually in small amounts and doesn’t often cause an issue. When the vaginal balances change, the yeast can multiply and spread, causing thrush, also known as genital candidiasis. The balance can be thrown off due to illnesses, weakened immune systems, lubricants, spermicides and even pregnancy. Many women share they’ve had yeast infections after taking antibiotics for an illness, as the balance within the body has changed.
The extreme itchiness within the genital area is one of the first known symptoms. This can be around the outside and inside the vagina. The itchiness is usually accompanied by inflammation and redness, as well as some pain. You may feel a burning sensation when urinating.
Discharge is another common symptom. Women naturally have discharge that changes thickness during their menstrual cycle, but it shouldn’t smell of anything. Foul-smelling, cottage cheese-like discharge is common in those with thrush.
This is a highly contagious condition, which is why it’s often transmitted sexually. The symptoms are also extremely similar to other vaginal infections, so doctors will want to discuss the symptoms to make sure it’s nothing more serious.
The great news is the treatments for fungal infections are available over the counter, although doctors can also prescribe something. Your doctor will keep track of the number of infections you get in a year. If you have more than four a year, it could be a more serious complication and you may need to take preventative steps.
Genital thrush and jock itch are slightly different conditions. Jock itch is a yeast infection, but not always caused by Candida. It affects the skin, rather than around the whole genitals, and usually within the middle of the thighs and where the thighs join the genitals. The condition usually occurs for similar reasons to a diaper rash, although with sweat rather than urine and feces.
Fungal Nail Infection Symptoms
You’ll likely see a fungal nail infection occurring. The nail turns yellowish and becomes harder but brittle. You’ll often see the streaks of the nail and you may find it crumbles in your hand. In many cases, the nail becomes painful to touch and it’s difficult to clip it down to size.
Sometimes the infection will start at the tip of the nail. The rest of the nail looks normal and you may think that clipping the infected bit will help it go away. However, fungal nail infections are contagious and usually spread before you start taking action.
In some case, the nail bed is infected. The new nail continues to grow with the infection and you need to take steps to get rid of that condition.
Candida Skin Fungal Infection Symptoms
Finally, the skin can suffer from infections due to the fungus. They are very similar to diaper rash but are caused by sweaty conditions. You will usually experience itchiness in the area, which can become red, inflamed and painful.
In some cases, the skin starts to crack and white pus-filled pimples can form. The skin can start to flake and scale, and in some cases, it can become purple from the rash. Most of the time, the condition is extremely itchy.
When it comes to athlete’s foot, you may see a red pinprick type of rash. The red dots are raised and itchy. Most of the time the symptoms will affect you at night when you tend to be warmer under your blankets.
When Candida Enters the Blood Stream
Candida fungal infections can become invasive. This is usually due to the fungus being on medical equipment that enters the body, so the fungus grows within the bloodstream. There are serious risks to your health if this happens, as the fungus can travel through the blood to your organs and into your bones.
When people develop invasive candidiasis, they will usually be admitted to the hospital. Some can go to another health care facility, depending on the symptoms and condition. Those on antibiotics, with weakened immune systems and certain diseases, are more likely to suffer from invasive infections than others.
People suffer from fevers and chills with the condition. It’s often extremely hard to diagnose since the symptoms mimic many other conditions and most people are already ill at the time of developing it. If you’re considered a risk of developing it, you may be given antifungal medications before procedures or afterward to help prevent it.
Risk Factors for Developing a Candida Infection
While you can develop a Candida skin infection anywhere, they usually occur where two parts of the body rub together. This is why the genital area is so commonly affected. Those who are overweight are more likely to develop the infections in the flaps of skin, usually around the stomach, under the breasts or along the back.
The feet are also commonly affected areas. While the skin doesn’t necessarily rub together, it rubs against shoes and clothing. The toes can also rub together, so in between each toe is commonly affected.
This is a condition that likes moist, warm areas. The genitals, under the breasts, the feet and even under the armpits are common areas of growth. Those who live in humid climates are more likely to see infections that those who live in the cold.
Other risk factors include poor hygiene and restrictive clothing. The two affect the skin’s ability to breathe and allow the moisture to dissipate. While the skin is often good at protecting itself, if you don’t wash regularly and dry thoroughly, you can make the condition worse.
As for vaginal and oral infections, those who have low immune systems are more likely to be affected. People who have taken antibiotics are also high risks for developing either of the conditions. Vaginal infections usually affect adults, while oral infections are more common in babies.
Preventing Candida Infections and the Spread
As mentioned, Candida infections are highly contagious. The more you itch, the more you spread the fungus and make it worse. You can also spread it to other parts of the body and to other people. It’s important to take steps to avoid the spread of the infections.
Start by taking steps to clean and fully dry your skin. You want to keep your skin from as much moisture as possible, especially in the areas that tend to get warm. Make sure your skin is dried fully after showers and activities that cause sweating.
Your feet are more likely to suffer in the warmer months. Use open-toe shoes or sandals as much as possible. They will allow your skin to breathe more and prevent moisture building up. You should change your socks regularly when you do wear closed-toe shoes, as well as changing your underwear regularly.
Don’t use a towel on an infected area on the rest of your body. The towel will pick up the yeast and you can spread it. You should also avoid sharing towels with someone else. Take steps to minimize the exposure of the infection.
When handling nail infections, you’ll want to use paper towels to dry your toes and feet. You can dispose of the towels to minimize the spread of the infection.
Treatments for Fungal Infections
Your doctor will usually suggest antifungal medications to manage the condition. The exact type of medication will depend on the location. Oral medications are popular, especially for oral thrush and nail infections in the bed. However, creams can be applied to skin and vaginal infections.
There are natural remedies you can take to improve the working of the medications. Tea tree oil is known to help support the reduction of yeast infections, while probiotics can help to add more good bacteria to help balance out the amount of Candida in the body.
Some medications do cause side effects like nausea and muscle pain. However, the side effects will wear off as soon as you stop taking the medications. Depending on the severity and type of infection, you will usually take the medication for 7-30 days.