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Candidiasis, commonly called yeast infection or thrush, is a fungal
infection of any of the Candida species, of which Candida albicans is
probably the most common. Yeast organisms are always present in all
people, but are usually prevented from "overgrowth" (uncontrolled
multiplication resulting in symptoms) by naturally occurring
In immunocompetent people, candidiasis can usually only be found in
exposed and moist parts of the body, such as the oral cavity (oral
thrush), the vagina (vaginal candidiasis or thrush), or folds of skin
in the diaper area (diaper rash). Oral thrush presents as a grayish
yellow membrane over the tongue and various parts of the oral cavity.
Candidiasis is the most common cause
of vaginal irritation or vaginitis. At least three quarters of all women will experience candidiasis at
some point in their lives. The Candida albicans organism is found in
the vaginas of almost all women and normally causes no problems.
However, when it gets out of balance with the other "normal flora", an
overgrowth and symptoms can result. Pregnancy, the use of
contraceptives and some
diabetes mellitus increase
the risk of infection.
The most common symptoms are itching and irritation of the vagina
and/or vulva. A whitish or whitish-gray discharge may be present,
sometimes resembling cottage cheese, and may have a "yeasty" smell
like beer or baking bread.
In immunocompromised patients, the candida infection can become
systemic, causing much more serious disease.
Candidiasis should be treated with
antifungal medication. If
indicated, an underlying reason should be looked for. As an example,
oral candidiasis is often linked to the use of inhaled steroids in
asthma medication. Patients on long term
inhaled steroids should rinse
their mouth after each dose of steroids. Babies with diaper rash
should have their diaper areas kept clean, dry, and exposed to air as
much as possible.
Following the health tips at vulvovaginal health can help prevent
Local treatment may include vaginal suppositories or medicated
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