Candida is a yeast-type fungus that commonly infects the skin. It is fairly common and can involve almost any area of skin on the body. It most often it occurs in warm, moist, creased areas such as the armpits and groin.
The body normally hosts a variety of germs, including bacteria and fungi. Some of these are useful to the body, some produce no harm or benefit, and some can cause symptoms or, at times, harm.
The fungus that most often causes candida skin infections is Candida albicans. These fungi take advantage of the warm, moist conditions. Skin infections caused by Candida may be found:
In the diaper area in babies
In the armpits, groin, and underneath the breasts
At the corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis)
In toenails, or at the edge of the nails (paronychia)
Candida infection is more common in people with:
A weakened immune system due to certain medicines and diseases, such as AIDS
You are more likely to get a candida infection if you take high doses of antibiotics or taken them for a long time. Antibiotics kill some of the healthy bacteria that help keep the fungus from over growing.
A yeast (candida) infection of the skin can cause intense itching.
Symptoms also include:
Red, growing skin rash
Rash on the skin folds, genitals, middle of the body, buttocks, under the breasts, and other areas of skin
Signs and tests
Your doctor or nurse can usually diagnose this condition by looking at your skin. The health care provider may gently scrape off a sample of skin for testing.
Older children and adults with a yeast skin infection should be tested for diabetes. High sugar levels seen in people with diabetes act as food for the yeast fungus, and help it grow.
Good general health and hygiene is very important for treating candida infections of the skin. Keeping the skin dry and exposed to air is helpful. Drying powders may help prevent fungal infections.
Losing weight may help eliminate the problem if you are overweight.
Proper blood sugar control may also be helpful to those with diabetes.
Antifungal skin creams or ointments may be used to treat a yeast infection of the skin, mouth, or vagina. Antifungal medications taken by mouth may be necessary for for severe candida infections involving the mouth, throat, or vagina.
A yeast infection of the skin usually goes away with treatment. Repeat infections are common.
People with very weakened immune systems may develop a serious Candida infection of the bloodstream. This is called invasive candidiasis.
Calling your health care provider
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of cutaneous candidiasis.
Edwards JE Jr. Candida species. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 257.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.