Candidiasis is a fungal disease of the skin, mucous tissues and nails, caused by fungus from the candida genus, which in some rare cases may lead to systemic diseases.

Why does the Candida infection appear?

The most common cause of infection in people is Candida albicans, oval fungus which is a part of the normal flora in the intestines. In 15% of healthy adults Candida can be found in the mouth and vaginal mucous tissues, without any symptoms or signs of disease. In healthy people there is no propagation of the fungus. The most common causes of infection are: excessive use of antibiotics of a wide spectrum, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, excessive hygiene of genitals with alkaline soaps that destroy normal mucous tissue flora, pregnancy, menstrual cycle, skin friction on curved surfaces, inadequate underwear. Also, disease often appears in unregulated diabetes, when the body and bodily fluids with extra glucoses enable fungal reproduction.

What are the symptoms of infection?

Candida fungus can be present: in the oral cavity, pharynx, on the tongue, nose, bronchi, lungs, digestive tract, urine, vagina, genitals, skin, nails, and systemic candidiasis. That’s why the possible symptoms are numerous and various.

Oral cavity candidiasis

Oral cavity candidiasis or Soor is commonly present in infants and small children in the form of whitish deposit on the tongue and cheek mucosal, which look like congealed milk. Under the deposits there are painfull wounds that make child nutrition difficult. In adults the disease is a consequence of the above listed predisposing factors, present in the form of whitish deposits, with redness and mild swelling. In longer lasting infections the mucous becomes shiny, lively red without whitish deposits. In smokers, thick whitish deposits can form on the tongue and cheeks.

Lip corners candidiasis

Lip corners candidiasis – angulus infectiosus often appears in adults with dentures. Changes usually spread from the buccal mucosa to the corners of the lips in the form of redness, scaling, moistening and skin cracks.

Skin candidiasis

Skin candidiasis is most common in newborns on the groins, in adults in the areas of large skin bends, especially in obese people where the two surfaces rub against each other, and under the breasts of women. Changes are in the form of clearly defined, red, moist plates on whose surfaces you can see bubbles and pustules. Skin candidiasis often engulfs areas between the fingernails, most commonly between the third and the fourth finger, in the form of redness, whitish deposits and moistening. Changes on hands are mostly seen in housewives, confectioners and people who often work with their hands submerged in water.

Genital candidiasis

In women there is redness on vulva and vagina, itch, and increased white and cheesy secretion. In men, changes appear on the glans and foreskin of the penis in the form of tiny bubbles that break leaving shallow wounds and whitish deposits. Symptoms are especially expressed after sexual intercourse because additional friction increases the sensation of tingling and the itch. The itch can spread on to the area around the anus.

Nail candidiasis

The disease occurs in persons whose hands are overly exposed to washing, for example confectioners. Changes are found on the skin around the nails, cuticles, in the form of redness and pain. A pocket forms between the nail and the surrounding skin, which can secrete a small amount of puss, and where Candida can be found. Due to chronic irritation and infection of the skin around the nail, a corrugated and brittle nail plate grows.

How is candidiasis diagnosis determined?

It is necessary to treat or remove predisposing factors which lead to the appearance of candidiasis. Local treatment is conducted as in oral candidiasis, skin candidiasis, vaginal candidiasis and candidal balanoposthitis. Imidazole preparations that contain antimycotic are used for two to three weeks. If local therapy hasn’t had an effect and in more severe infections, systemic therapy ought to be used.

In frequent and recurring infection blood sugar should be checked because one of the first symptoms of diabetes can be exactly the infection of genitals by Candida. Proper genital hygiene is very important, strong antiseptic substances or soaps that disturb the normal bacterial flora and enable fungal growth should not be used. Synthetic laundry and tight clothes should be avoided.

Spec. Dr. Svetlana Djurisic, dermatologist
Dermatological clinic DERMATIM, Belgrade