A new decade, not just another Year has started, so first a Very Happy New Year and Decade. I just love beginnings (endings and middle too), a fresh start, new hopes and aspirations, new ventures and adventures, basically a lot of buoyant change that people look forward to. That’s a good sign because it’s like a breath of fresh air without which things will start to disintegrate, smell foul and healthy will become unhealthy, and if we don’t pay attention to it, like a fungus it would spread and cause discomfort and illness. Just like Candida infection.
Candida is a fungus that is present almost everywhere and, on our bodies, too and is generally harmless, but sometimes they can grow rapidly and then cause infections. Warm moist areas that have no or very little ventilation offer the best breeding places for fungi, yeast. Candida is no different, the strain which causes most of these troubles is Candida albicans. By the way, when candida causes an infection it is called candidiasis. It can occur anywhere but following types of candida invasions have been noticed:
- Oral Thrush: Yes, it can invade your mouth and then cause white color patches in and around your lips, cheeks, on the tongue, which when cleaned would look red and inflamed.
- Cutaneous Candidiasis: perhaps the most common one. It happens on the skin, the diaper rashes – blame them on candida. It can happen between skin folds as well, basically where two parts of skin rub against each other (intertriginous), like the area between breasts, armpits, genital parts, toes, fingers. You get the idea.
- Vaginal Yeast Infections: Okay I know I mentioned genital area in the skin but when this overgrown candida occurs in vaginal areas it causes yeast infections. Hence a separate mention.
- Deep Candidiasis: This is the dangerous one when candida succeeds in invading the bloodstream causing infection in the entire body, it can also cause damage to other internal organs by spreading to them.
Now that we know what it is, let’s look at a few common symptoms:
- Itching, soreness
- Patches (thrush in mouth) angry red patches on the skin, sometimes pustules
- Esophagitis – when oral thrush reaches further down to your esophagus
- Vaginal white discharge
- Scaly skin/cracked skin
Normally our immune system is capable of handling candida but people with weakened immune systems, (like cancer patients or other such conditions), pregnant females, infants or children, diabetics, overweight people are more at risk of getting infected by candida. Although it’s not common it’s not impossible either for a person to get candidiasis via sexual activity. So yes, it is contagious, not highly like cold though.
Doctors can diagnose it via a physical examination, but in some cases, samples of skin or others can be sent for culture tests. If doctors suspect some other underlying conditions, they may prescribe blood tests and others. Treatment for these is thankfully simple. Generally, it requires topical application of antifungal creams, ointments, liquids in case of oral thrush (kind-a like mouthwash). For severe situations, antifungal drugs can be prescribed as well along with the outside application.
A few factors like maintaining good personal hygiene, wearing loosely fitted (not ill-fitted) clothes, maintain weight and managing your diabetes or thyroid all come in handy to prevent candidiasis. Finally, I hope not just your bodies but your mind and thinking all stay healthy this year and continue for decades to come. I wish a breath of fresh air is never far whenever needed.