Common Types of Candida Infections

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Surprise Candida Comes in Different Varieties

Candidiasis, more commonly known as a yeast infection, or candida can take many forms in the human body. The yeast species called Candida albicans already live on and inside our bodies, but problems arise when the quantity of yeast becomes too plentiful, resulting in infections. External body areas that are moist and warm are most likely to harbor yeast infections. If there is any type of break in the skin, such as a cut, candida can enter the system and wreak havoc. Yeast infections are not contagious, as they develop from pre-existing yeast that is able to invade the body or increase in number. The yeast simply needs an ideal environment in which to grow.

Some medical conditions create this ideal environment for yeast. For example, diabetes increases the risk of developing yeast infections because the high level of blood glucose encourages yeast to grow. Medications that negatively affect an individual’s immune system, such as cancer drugs or steroids, also have a positive effect on yeast growth. Also, the use of antibiotics to kill off harmful bacteria in the body tends to have a similar effect on beneficial bacteria. In a healthy body, these good bacteria serve to keep yeast growth at bay, but yeast can grow at a rapid rate when the bacteria are no longer available. It is also possible for a healthy person to develop a yeast infection. For example, a badly done manicure could create tiny cuts around the fingernails that allow yeast to enter. There are a variety of physical conditions that can result from a candida-related infection, depending on an individual’s age and range of activities.

Vaginal Yeast Infections

In adult women, candida can cause a vaginal infection. This is a common occurrence, known simply to most women as a “yeast infection,” for which there are numerous over-the-counter and prescription-strength medication options. Using prescription antibiotics or steroid medications very often leads to a vaginal yeast infection as the balance of natural yeast in the vagina gets thrown out of whack. A change in hormone levels can also sometimes trigger a yeast infection in women, whether the direct cause is the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopausal changes, or birth control pills. Having diabetes also makes it more likely for someone to experience a recurring issue with vaginal yeast infections.

The symptoms of vaginal yeast infection can include itching, irritation, or pain in the vaginal area as well as an unusual white-colored discharge. A burning sensation during sex or while urinating can also be a common symptom.

Thrush

Oral candidiasis, also called oral thrush or simply thrush, causes a creamy white layer to appear on the tongue or inner cheeks of the mouth. It can also spread to other parts of the mouth or throat, and in the most serious cases it can affect the esophagus. Thrush often occurs in infants and the elderly, particularly older individuals who wear dentures, although it can also affect people of any age with compromised immune systems. Smokers, people being treated for cancer with chemotherapy or radiation, those with diabetes, and anyone with a chronic dry mouth condition are also at higher risk of developing oral thrush. This yeast-related condition makes it difficult to eat or drink, a serious factor to be considered in the aged or very young. This type of yeast infection can also cause an individual to lose his or her sense of taste, experience a cotton-like sensation in his or her mouth, or develop cracks at the corner of his or her mouth.

When a breastfeeding infant develops oral thrush, it is likely that the infection will be passed on to the baby’s mother by way of the nipples. The woman can go on to develop thrush symptoms, including pain, sensitivity, or itching of the nipples; flaking of the areola surrounding the nipples; or sharp pains within the breast. A woman who develops a vaginal yeast infection during pregnancy is likely to pass the infection on to her newborn child, who will then develop thrush in the mouth.

Nail Bed Infections

Yeast can instigate a fungal infection in the toenails or fingernails, with toenail infections being somewhat more common. This condition can lead to the thickening, malformation, discoloration, or crumbling of the nail, which not only changes the nail’s appearance but can also be painful. Affected nails could also appear darkened or dull compared to healthy nails. In severe cases, the nail could lift away from the nail bed and could emit a foul smell.

Infections of the nail bed most often happen to people whose toenails or fingernails are continually exposed to moist environments, such as showers, swimming pools, or even a sweaty shoe. The fungus breaks into the skin through a small cut or separation and burrows into the nail bed. Toenails are more often affected by yeast problems than fingernails because it’s harder for blood circulation to reach the toes, leading to reduced healing on the part of the body’s immune defenses. Men are more likely to be affected, especially males who have a family history of problems with nail bed infections. The elderly are also more susceptible to infections of the toenails due to reduced blood circulation that comes with age.

Some people will naturally be at higher risk for developing yeast-related nail bed infections. Individuals who tend to sweat heavily are at risk for this type of infection, especially if they wear shoes that do not promote ventilation. People who walk in their bare feet in shared spaces such as gyms, public showers, or swimming pools are also increasing their risk. A personal history of having athlete’s foot (also known as tinea pedis), damage to a particular fingernail or toenail, psoriasis, or a similar infection also makes a personal more likely to develop a nail bed infection. Individuals with poor circulation, a weak immune system, or diabetes are also in danger of experiencing this type of infection. Working in an environment that is particularly humid or wet is also a risk factor.

Just keep in mind all of these can be classified as candida infections.