Different types of bacteria and fungi live and grow on your skin. Most of them aren’t dangerous. Your body requires the majority of them to carry out normal functions. However, some can cause infections when they begin to multiply uncontrollably. The Candida fungus is one of these potentially harmful organisms. When an overgrowth of Candida develops on the skin, an infection can occur. This condition is known as candidiasis of the skin, or cutaneous candidiasis.
Candidiasis of the skin often causes a red, itchy rash to form, most commonly in the folds of the skin. This rash may also spread to other areas of the body. While the symptoms are often bothersome, they can be treated with improved hygiene and antifungal creams or powders.
The main symptom of candidiasis of the skin is a rash. The rash often causes redness and intense itching. In some cases, the infection can cause the skin to become cracked and sore. Blisters and pustules may also occur.
The rash can affect various parts the body, but it’s most likely to develop in the folds of the skin. This includes areas in the armpits, in the groin, between the fingers, and under the breasts. Candida can also cause infections in the nails, edges of the nails, and corners of the mouth.
Candidiasis of the skin develops when the skin becomes infected with Candida. A small amount of Candida fungi naturally live on the skin. When this type of fungus begins to multiply uncontrollably, however, it can cause an infection. This may occur due to:
- warm weather
- tight clothing
- poor hygiene
- infrequent undergarment changes
- the use of antibiotics that kill harmless bacteria that keep Candida under control
- a weakened immune system as a result of diabetes, pregnancy, or another medical condition
- incomplete drying of damp or wet skin
Candida fungi thrive and grow in warm, moist areas. This is why the condition often affects areas where there are folds of skin, such as the armpits and groin.
Babies can also develop candidiasis of the skin, especially on the buttocks, where a diaper tends to provide an ideal environment for Candida.
Candidiasis of the skin usually isn’t contagious. However, people with weakened immune systems may develop the condition after touching the skin of an infected person. Those with compromised immune systems are also more likely to develop a severe infection as a result of candidiasis.
Your doctor will likely be able to make a diagnosis simply by performing a physical examination. During the exam, they’ll inspect the location of your rash and the appearance of your skin.
Your doctor may also want to perform a skin culture before making a diagnosis of candidiasis of the skin. During a skin culture, your doctor will use a cotton ball to swab the affected area and collect a skin sample. The sample will then be sent to a laboratory to be tested for the presence of Candida.
Candidiasis of the skin can usually be treated with home remedies, the most important of which is proper hygiene. Washing the skin regularly and drying the skin thoroughly can prevent the skin from becoming too moist. This is vital to keeping Candida infections at bay.
Since abnormal blood sugar levels can contribute to the development of Candida infections, keeping your blood sugar under control may also help relieve symptoms. You may be able to lower your blood sugar by reducing the amount of sugar in your diet and by exercising for 30 minutes at least three times per week. If you have diabetes, it’s important to continue following your doctor’s instructions as you may need to be started on oral medications or even insulin
In more severe cases of candidiasis, your doctor may recommend using an antifungal cream or powder that can be applied to your skin. This type of treatment can kill Candida and reduce the spread of the infection. If the infection has already spread to areas inside your body, such as your throat or mouth, you may need to take an oral antifungal to get rid of the infection.
Candidiasis of the skin usually goes away with treatment, and most people make a full recovery without complications. However, it’s possible for the infection to return in the future. People with compromised immune systems, especially people who are undergoing chemotherapy and those with HIV or AIDS, are at a much higher risk of severe or life-threatening Candida infections. If you’re undergoing chemotherapy or you have HIV or AIDs and you develop severe throat pain, headache, or high fevers, you should see your doctor immediately.