Healthy Living

What is Candida?

Candida is a genus of yeasts typically found living in or on humans and most animals. While they are benefitting from the moisture that our body produces, which they needed to grow properly, our immune system will be able to control their numbers and fight back if they are invading body parts.

However, once our immune system gets weakened or compromised, the Candida will often go through a phase called opportunistic infection, where they will invade specific body parts when there are no defense mechanisms stopping them. They will usually infect body parts that have a lot of moisture, and these include the mouth, the vagina, and the skin.


Thrush

Infection of Candida in the mouth is called thrush or oral candidiasis, and it typically occurs in babies and children who have a weaker immune system than adults.

Thrush appears as large white patches at the surface of the tongue, and they can also be seen around the mouth and sometimes the throat. Those affected with oral candidiasis may have difficulty in eating as the white patches can be quite painful when touched, and they can also bleed after coming into contact with foreign objects repeatedly.

Treatment

The most effective way to stop the disease from spreading is by using a mouthwash that contains nystatin. But the taste of the mouthwash may be too bitter for children, so it will be challenging to get them to swish the liquid in their mouths. Popular products and brands that have nystatin include Nystop and Nyata.

If the mouthwash isn’t enough, there are oral medications that can be taken like Diflucan (fluconazole) and Sporanox (itraconazole), which are both potent in eliminating excessive Candida in the body.

Yeast Infection

Yeast Infection is the term used for the candidiasis occurring in a human’s reproductive system. While penises can also be infected by Candida, the vagina is much more vulnerable to infection due to it producing high amounts of moisture, especially in the vaginal canal where the yeasts are usually present.

Candidiasis in the vagina can cause itching, irritation, soreness in the vulva, and a white vaginal discharge may come out of the body part. The white substance is the Candida itself, and it usually flows out of the vagina whenever there are too many yeasts within the vaginal canal.

For males, candidiasis in the penis will appear as red swollen spots around the head of the body part that can usually cause irritation and itching. Other symptoms for candidiasis include phimosis (a condition where the foreskin is having difficulty retracting), sharp pain when urinating, and persisting foul smell.

Treatment

Conventional treatments used for vaginal candidiasis include taking oral medications such as clotrimazole and miconazole and applying antifungal creams or ointments.

It will take more than six days for all these medications to take effect and for you to see a significant change in the affected area. To heal the candidiasis much faster, doctors would often recommend patients to take just one pill of fluconazole, a very potent drug to eliminate the fungal infection in the body. But fluconazole should not be taken by pregnant women as the drug may compromise their immune system. Instead, they should stick to using topical medications and less powerful pills.

Onychomycosis

While onychomycosis is generally caused by dermatophyte fungi, there is a type of onychomycosis where Candida is the one infecting toenails. Called candidal onychomycosis, this kind of toenail fungus occurs when the infected person’s natural defenses are compromised and if other body parts are also infected with Candida.

However, this type of toenail fungus is not as common as the one caused by dermatophyte fungi as Candida would rather live in other body parts with higher moisture content.

Treatment

There are two different methods that can be recommended by doctors to heal onychomycosis properly.

The first method is by taking oral medication, and the medicines that are typically prescribed by doctors are Lamisil (terbinafine) and Sporanox (itraconazole). These drugs will allow your toes to grow new healthy toenails to reduce the total amount of infection. You would have to gradually cut the infected toenails until they are completely replaced by the healthy ones.

The second method is by applying medication topically and directly on the infection itself. The most common topical medicine used for toenail fungus is the medicated nail cream, which contains propylene glycol, urea, and lactic acid that are all effective to hydrate and soften the nails prevent the infection from spreading further. Another popular topical medication is the medicated nail polish that contains Penlac or ciclopirox, which has antifungal properties.

Some types of candidiasis like yeast infection may regularly appear for people with weak body defenses, so it is recommended for them to see their doctor regularly to avoid further complications. If you see early symptoms of candidiasis in any part of your body, don’t let it worsen and consult your doctor immediately so you can be prescribed with the best medications to fight the infection.

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