Candida refers to a type of yeast or fungus that is commonly found in the human body. It is a part of the normal microbial flora present in the mouth, intestines, and on the skin, where it usually doesn’t cause any harm. However, under certain circumstances, Candida can overgrow and lead to infections, known as candidiasis.
There are several species of Candida, but Candida albicans is the most common one responsible for infections in humans. Candidiasis can affect various parts of the body and is categorized into different types based on the location of the infection:
- Oral candidiasis (thrush): This type of infection occurs in the mouth and throat. It often appears as white, creamy patches on the tongue, inner cheeks, gums, and roof of the mouth. It is commonly seen in infants, people with weakened immune systems, and those who use certain medications.
- Genital candidiasis: Also known as a yeast infection, this type of candidiasis affects the genital area in both males and females. It can cause itching, burning, redness, and a white, cottage cheese-like discharge. Women are more commonly affected, and hormonal changes, antibiotic use, and compromised immune systems can increase the risk.
- Cutaneous candidiasis: This infection affects the skin and is characterized by red, itchy rashes with satellite lesions (smaller patches of rash surrounding the main area). Areas that are warm, moist, and prone to friction, such as the armpits, groin, and under the breasts, are more susceptible to this type of candidiasis.
- Invasive candidiasis: This is a more serious type of infection that occurs when Candida enters the bloodstream and spreads throughout the body. It is often seen in people with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing chemotherapy, transplant recipients, or intensive care unit patients.