What is Candida?

Candida is the scientific name for a genus of fungi. Candida infections, also called candidiasis, are often referred to as yeast or fungal infections. When they occur in the mouth and throat, Candida infections are called thrush. The most common sites of infection include the mouth and throat, the genitals, and moist skin folds. Candida can also cause a systemic, or body-wide, infection, but this is very rare, occurring in less than 0.1% of cases every year in the United States (Source: CDC).

Candida can cause inflammation in the infected tissues. Cutaneous, or skin, Candida infections tend to appear as red, weepy, scaly areas. Candida infections can also cause pus-filled bumps. In the mouth and throat, the infection often forms thick, white patches. Genital Candida infections often produce a thick, white vaginal discharge.

Candida occurs naturally in the environment and may also be present on skin surfaces, in the mouth and digestive tract, and in the vagina without causing problems. However, infections can occur in otherwise healthy people when they take antibiotics or have areas of skin that are constantly moist. People with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of developing Candida infections, including systemic infections.

Treated appropriately, Candida infections often resolve, although they may recur.

Candida infections are rarely serious or life threatening unless they are systemic infections. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as fever and chills that don’t improve, confusion, lethargy, loss or change in level of consciousness, seizure, decreased urine output, rapid heart rate, chest pain, severe abdominal pain, and unusual irritability or poor feeding in a child.

Seek prompt medical care if you have never had a Candida infection before and believe you have one, if you are being treated for Candida but symptoms recur or are persistent, or if you have any other concerns. Also seek prompt medical care if you have fevers and chills that are not responsive to therapy or have difficulty swallowing.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of Candida?

Symptoms of Candida depend on the site of infection. Cutaneous Candida infections, on the skin surface, tend to appear as red, weepy, scaly areas. Candida infections can also cause pus-filled bumps. In the mouth and throat, the infection often forms thick, white patches. Genital Candida infections often produce a thick, white vaginal discharge. Some diaper rashes are caused by Candida.... Read more about candidasymptoms

CAUSES

What causes Candida?

Although various species of Candida can cause infection, most infections are caused by Candida albicans. Candida infections are generally not considered contagious. Candida is present in the environment and can be carried by healthy people without causing symptoms.... Read more about candidacauses

TREATMENTS

How is Candida treated?

Treatment for Candida typically involves the use of antifungal medications, although oral thrush in babies often goes away on its own. The type of antifungal therapy depends on the site and severity of the infection, and whether any past treatment was effective. Antifungal medications may be topical, oral or intravenous.... Read more about candidatreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Infections and Contagious Diseases


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