Candida is a type of fungus that can cause an infection in your skin. In normal conditions, your skin may host small amounts of this fungus, but problems arise when it begins to multiply and creates an overgrowth. More than 150 species of candida exist, but the majority of infections are caused by a species called candida albicans.
Candida skin infections can occur on almost any area of the body, but are more commonly found in intertriginous regions—where two skin areas may touch or rub together—such as armpits, the groin, skin folds, and the area between the fingers and toes. The fungus thrives in warm, moist, and sweaty conditions.
Normally, your skin acts as an effective barrier against infection, but any cuts or breakdown in the superficial layers of the skin may allow the fungus to cause infection.
The prognosis for candidal infections is often very good. Generally, the condition isn’t serious and can be easily treated.
Candida becomes pathogenic when conditions are favorable for it to multiply. These may be produced by hot weather, lack of hygiene, or restrictive clothing.
These individuals may be at increased risk for candidal infection:
- people who are overweight
- people with diabetes
- people who have recently undergone antibiotic therapy
- people with inflammatory disorders
- people with immunodeficiency
- people working in wet conditions
- pregnant women
Symptoms vary depending on body location, but include the following:.
- rashes (area of reddening, usually itchy)
- red-purple patches (area with an altered surface)
- white or yellow substance over affected areas
- scaling (shedding of the skin with flakes)
- cracking (cracks in the skin)
- erythema (area of redness)
- maceration (appearance of soft white skin)
- creamy satellite pustules at margins of affected areas (pimples filled with pus)
Diagnosis of candidal infections primarily relies on appearance and skin sampling. Your physician will take skin scrapings, nail clippings or plucked hair from the affected area and mount them on a slide for examination.
The first step is to address the underlying cause. This may include changing your lifestyle to become more hygienic, losing weight if you are overweight, or managing your diabetes.
Treatment for candidal skin infections is usually simple and you don’t need to be hospitalized unless you have problems with your immunity.
Your physician may prescribe drying agents or anti-fungal creams, ointments, or lotions to be applied to your skin. The infection should begin to clear in about a week.
You will most probably be prescribed over-the-counter drugs, such as ketoconazole or clotrimazole, both of which are from a class of antifungal drugs known as azoles. They do not have serious side effects as compared to other anti-fungal agents like nystatin or amphotericin B.
If the infection persists or becomes more severe, your physician may include some systemic anti-fungals (oral or injectable) in your therapy.
There are simple steps you may take to reduce your risk of developing candidal infections. For example:
- Wear dri-fit clothing to help wick away moisture from your skin.
- Keep your armpits, groin area, and other areas prone to infection clean and dry
- Always shower and dry yourself thoroughly after activities where you sweat
- If you are overweight or obese, properly dry your skin folds.
- Wear sandals or other open toe footwear when it is warm.
- Change your socks and underwear regularly