Candida is a common type of fungus that lives on and in the human body in small amounts. It is a type of yeast that likes to live in places like your mouth and belly, or on your skin. Candida can live on your body in small amounts without causing any problems, but certain environments can allow the yeast to grow out of control, causing an infection known as candidiasis.
Types of candidiasis include:
- Oropharyngeal Candidiasis (Often referred to as Thrush). Thrush occurs when the candida yeast spreads in the mouth. It is most common in newborns, elderly people, and people with weakened immune systems. Sometimes it will spread to the esophagus causing esophagitis.
- Genital Candidiasis (Genital Yeast Infection). An overgrowth of Candida in the genital area (typically the vagina) can lead to a genital yeast infection. While both men and women can get these infections, they are more common among women. Three out of four women will get a genital yeast infection at least once in their lifetime. Genital candidiasis can be caused by pregnancy, certain lubricants, spermicides, medications, or diabetes. The symptoms of a genital yeast infection tend to be itchiness, redness, or swelling of the vagina; pain or burning when you pee; and a white, cottage cheese-like discharge.
- Cutaneous Candidiasis (skin infection). This infection usually occurs in moist areas of the body that don’t receive much ventilation. A common form of skin infection is diaper rash. In adults, cutaneous candidiasis may occur in the skin between fingers or toes, the armpits, and the groin.
- Invasive Candidiasis. Invasive candidiasis occurs when the Candida fungus enters the bloodstream and infects the blood or internal organs, usually via contaminated medical devices (such as a central venous catheter). Unlike other forms of Candida infections, invasive candidiasis is a serious, potentially life-threatening infection, because it may affect the heart, brain, eyes, and bones. Invasive candidiasis most commonly occurs in patients with weakened immune systems, or patients undergoing long hospital stays.