What is candida albicans?

About Candida albicans: Natural yeast and problematic infections

If Candida albicans enter your bloodstream, they can cause serious infections not only in your blood but in other organs as well.

Neutropenia — a key risk factor

An important risk factor for developing more invasive Candida conditions is neutropenia. This is when there are abnormally low levels of cells called neutrophils in your blood. It can make you more prone to infections.

People that are commonly affected by neutropenia include people undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer, and people with leukemia or other bone marrow diseases.

Individuals that have neutropenia and an invasive Candida infection have different treatment recommendations.

Candidemia

Candidemia is a blood infection with Candida species. It can lead to long hospital stays and an increase in mortality due to concurrent conditions.

Risk factors for candidemia include:

  • immunosuppression
  • use of broad-spectrum antibiotics
  • major surgery
  • placement of a medical device such as a feeding tube or catheter

Symptoms

Symptoms can resemble those of bacterial sepsis and can include:

  • fever
  • kidney failure
  • shock

Diagnosis and treatment

Candidemia can be diagnosed when the yeast is isolated from a blood sample.

Treatment may depend on the species of Candida causing the infection, but can include IV doses of fluconazole, caspofungin, micafungin, or amphotericin B. Catheters should also be removed.

Endocarditis

Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart, which includes the heart chambers and valves.

Fungal endocarditis is a very serious condition with a high mortality rate. Candida albicans is responsible for 24 to 46 percent of all cases of fungal endocarditis.

Risk factors for developing this condition include:

  • a weakened immune system
  • heart abnormalities or defects
  • prolonged antibiotic use
  • cardiovascular surgery
  • implantation of medical devices, such as a feeding tube, catheter, or prosthetic heart valves

Symptoms

Symptoms of fungal endocarditis can include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • generalized body pain, sometimes in the lower extremities

Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis can be difficult because symptoms are often similar to endocarditis caused by bacteria.

Treatment may include intravenous (IV) fluconazole or amphotericin B, removal of any infected medical device, and possible surgical removal of fungus from the tissue.

Endophthalmitis

Endophthalmitis is an inflammation of the eye that can be caused by fungus. It can lead to loss of vision.

Candida albicans is the most common Candida species involved, although Candida tropicalis can also cause the infection.

Risk factors for endophthalmitis are:

  • recent hospitalization
  • recent surgery
  • a weakened immune system
  • having a medical device such as a catheter or IV inserted

Symptoms

The condition can affect one or both eyes. The main symptom is inflammation in the eye, although in some cases pus can be present in the tissues of the eye.

Diagnosis and treatment

Endophthalmitis can be diagnosed through a retinal examination as well as by analyzing a sample of fluid from your eye.

Treatment can include amphotericin B with flucytosine. Fluconazole can also be used.

Meningitis

Meningitis is the inflammation of the tissues that surround your brain and spinal cord. Fungal meningitis can occur when fungus travels through the blood to your spinal cord. Fungal meningitis caused by Candida is often acquired within a hospital.

Factors that can put you at risk for meningitis caused by Candida can include:

  • immunosuppression
  • certain medications such as antibiotics, immunosuppressants, or corticosteroids
  • a recent surgical procedure

Symptoms

Symptoms of fungal meningitis include:

  • headache
  • stiff neck
  • fever
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sensitivity to light
  • confusion

Diagnosis and treatment

If a fungus is suspected for causing your meningitis, a sample of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) will be taken and cultured.

The recommended treatment of meningitis caused by Candida species is amphotericin B with flucytosine.

Intra-abdominal candidiasis

Intra-abdominal candidiasis can also be referred to as Candida peritonitis. It’s an inflammation of the lining of your inner abdomen caused by a yeast infection.

The condition is most commonly caused by Candida albicans although other Candida species can cause it as well.

Some risk factors for developing intra-abdominal candidiasis include:

  • a recent abdominal surgery or procedure
  • undergoing peritoneal dialysis
  • antibiotic therapy
  • conditions such as diabetes

Symptoms

The symptoms of intra-abdominal candidiasis can be very similar, if not indistinguishable, from bacterial peritonitis. Symptoms can include:

  • pain or bloating in your abdomen
  • fever
  • nausea and vomiting
  • feeling tired or fatigued
  • diarrhea
  • diminished appetite

In order to diagnose the condition, your doctor will take a sample of abdominal fluid (peritoneal fluid). If Candida is causing the infection, yeast will be observed in the sample.

Treatment

Treatment can include antifungal drugs such as:

  • fluconazole
  • amphotericin B
  • caspofungin
  • micafungin

Catheters should be removed as well.

Osteomyelitis and fungal arthritis

Osteomyelitis is a bone infection while fungal arthritis (also called septic arthritis) is a fungal infection of a joint. Both conditions can be caused by Candida species, although this is rare. Bacterial infections are more common.

Risk factors for developing these conditions can include:

  • having a weakened immune system
  • experiencing a recent bone injury or orthopedic procedure
  • having an IV or a catheter
  • conditions such as diabetes

Symptoms

Symptoms of these conditions include pain or swelling in the affected area that can be accompanied by fever or chills. People with fungal arthritis can also have great difficulty using the affected joint.

In order to determine if a fungal infection is causing osteomyelitis, a bone biopsy may be needed. Analysis of joint fluid can determine if arthritis is due to a fungal infection.

If a blood infection caused either condition, Candida may also be detected in the blood.

Treatment

Treatment can include courses of antifungal medication such as amphotericin B and fluconazole.

What Is Candida Albicans?

This ordinary type of yeast can lead to painful, irritating yeast infections.

Candida albicans is a species of yeast — a single-celled fungus — that’s a normal part of the microbes that live in your gastrointestinal tract.

Small amounts of the yeast also live in various warm, moist areas throughout the body, including the mouth, rectum, vagina, and parts of your skin.

Its numbers are naturally kept in check by the bacteria and other microorganisms that make up your microbiome, the community of microorganisms that inhabit your body.

However, different factors can throw off your microbial balance, tipping the scales in favor of C. albicans and allowing the fungus to grow out of control and cause a yeast infection called candidiasis.

These factors include:

  • Antibiotics, which kill both pathogenic (disease-causing) and beneficial bacteria
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • HIV and other conditions that impair the immune system, including steroids and chemotherapy

Vaginal Yeast Infection

Though it causes about 90 percent of yeast infections, Candida albicans is not the only species from the Candida genus that lives in the body.

Other common species include C. glabrata, C. parapsilosis, C. tropicalis, and C. krusei.

Some studies estimate that about 20 percent of asymptomatic, healthy women have Candida living in their vaginas (though some estimates place that number much higher, at 80 percent), according to a June 2007 report in the journal The Lancet.

But C. albicans comprises 85 to 95 percent of the Candida yeast strains isolated from the vagina, the report notes.

These fungi make their way into the vagina from the anus.

An overgrowth of C. albicans (or other Candida species) in the vagina causes a yeast infection, also known as candida vaginitis or vulvovaginal candidiasis.

Common symptoms include:

  • Vaginal itching and a burning sensation in the vaginal region, including the labia and vulva
  • White vaginal discharge that’s sometimes described as being similar in consistency to cottage cheese
  • Pain during urination or sex
  • Redness and swelling of the vulva

Vaginal yeast infections are typically treated with antifungal creams or suppositories purchased over-the-counter (OTC) or through prescription.

Most yeast infections resolve within a few days after treatment starts.

Thrush and Invasive Candidiasis

Candida albicans is a very common fungus found in the mouth of people of all ages.

For instance, the fungus lives in the mouths of 30 to 45 percent of healthy adults, according to a report in the Postgraduate Medical Journal.

Despite this prevalence, an oral infection by C. albicans, which is called thrush or oral candidiasis, is not very common in the general population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Thrush mainly affects the very young, the old, and people with weakened immune systems (including people using steroids).

Symptoms of thrush include creamy white sores in the mouth, including on the tongue, inner cheeks, and gums, and pain during swallowing.

If a mild thrush infection develops after antibiotic use, consuming probiotics or yogurt with active cultures, or taking over-the-counter Lactobacillus acidophilus (a beneficial bacteria) pills, may be all that’s required, as these treatments help restore the normal balance of microbes in the mouth.

More serious infections require antifungal medications, including special mouthwashes and lozenges.

Candida albicans

Immunity to C. albicans

A crucial component in the defence against C. albicans is the pattern recognition receptor, Dectin-1 and its signaling molecule, CARD9. Dectin-1/CARD9 is expressed by innate myeloid cells such as monocytes, dendritic cells and neutrophils. Dectin-1 is required for the efficient phagocytosis and killing of C. albicans, because it binds β-glucans which form a layer within the C. albicans cell wall. CARD9 is needed for Dectin-1 responses, since it transmits the signals to the rest of the cell and is required for production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and activation of important transcription factors. Mice deficient in Dectin-1 or CARD9 are highly susceptible to disseminated candidiasis. In humans, deficiency in CARD9 is a serious immunodeficiency disease that predisposes to disseminated candidiasis. Interestingly, disseminated candidiasis in CARD9-deficient patients only affects the brain and central nervous system. This is because CARD9 is important for recruiting neutrophils to the brain after infection by activating the production of chemokines from neutrophils themselves and resident myeloid cells in the brain.

© The copyright for this work resides with the BSI

Candida albicans is a species of yeast — a single-celled fungus, in fact – that lives naturally in the body. This yeast is a normal part of the microbes that live on your skin and in your gastrointestinal tract, but under some circumstances it can multiply out of control.

Small amounts of Candida albicans also live in various warm, moist areas throughout the body, including on the skin, in the mouth and gut, and also the rectum and vagina.

Candida’s numbers are usually kept in check by the colonies of ‘friendly’ bacteria and other microorganisms that live both in your gut and on your body.

Most of the time, Candida albicans doesn’t cause any problems. We all carry this little yeast in and on our bodies without even thinking about it. It even plays a part in digestion and nutrient absorption.

In some cases, however, Candida albicans can multiply out of control. This is when it becomes Candidiasis, also known as thrush, a yeast infection, or Candida overgrowth.

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The resulting infections can cause pain and inflammation throughout the body, both on the skin and in the gut or genitals. Candidiasis is most often noticed on the skin, mouth and vaginal infections. Candida overgrowth is also a common cause of diaper rash.

An intestinal Candida overgrowth can inflame and weaken the walls of the intestines, releasing toxic byproducts which may lead to many different health issues, from digestive disorders to depression.

These can be unpleasant infections, but are not generally life threatening except in those with severely compromised immune systems. Even so, Candidiasis should be treated promptly before it can affect your overall health and quality of life.

Table Of Contents

Signs Of A Candida Albicans Overgrowth

The symptoms of Candida overgrowth vary depending on the location and severity of the infection. An intestinal Candida albicans infection is often associated with Candida infections elsewhere on the body. Symptoms can include:

  • Fungal infections of the skin and nails, such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, and toenail fungus
  • Constantly feeling low in energy or fatigued
  • Digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, or multiple sclerosis
  • Poor memory or concentration, inability to focus
  • Behavioral issues such as ADD, ADHD, and/or brain fog
  • Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, hives, and rashes
  • Low mood, Irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or depression
  • Vaginal infections or itching
  • Urinary tract infections, rectal itching
  • Severe seasonal allergies
  • Sugar cravings

Some people may be more prone to Candida overgrowth than others. Risk factors generally relate to your age or health status. Those who are more prone to infection include pregnant women, babies, and children, but also people who are overweight or obese, or have chronic health conditions such as diabetes, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) or chronic inflammatory disorders.

A weakened immune system is also a major risk factor. Those who are stressed, or work in hot/wet conditions may also be more susceptible.

Common Types of Candida Albicans Infections

Candidiasis that develops in the mouth or throat is often referred to as thrush or oropharyngeal candidiasis. Candidiasis in the vagina is usually called a yeast infection.

Candida in the gut is usually called a Candida overgrowth or Candida Related Complex. The type of Candida infection is often seen alongside topical infections.

The most serious form of Candida infection is invasive candidiasis, which occurs when Candida species enters the bloodstream and spreads throughout the body. However, this is rare and usually only occurs in those with severely weakened immune systems. (6)

Here is a list of five of the most common types of Candida infection. Others include jock itch and diaper rash, both of quick can be quite difficult to treat.

Athlete’s foot

Also known as tinea pedis, athlete’s foot is a type of fungal skin infection that usually occurs in athletes or anything else who is regularly active. The candida strain of fungi can multiply rapidly into athlete’s foot, especially if the foot is in warm, moist conditions.

Athlete’s foot appears as dry and brittle skin between the toes. The skin on your feet maybe flaky and prone to itching. Small, painful blisters may also appear, usually between your toes or on the sole of your foot. Skin discoloration is also likely.

Although generally considered a mild sort of skin infection, it’s a good idea to treat athlete’s foot as soon as it appears as it can spread to other areas of the body, including the groin, face and scalp.

Oral thrush

Oral thrush, or oral candidiasis, develops on the tongue and inside of the mouth. Although a small amount of Candida fungus can live in your mouth without causing harm, it can grow out of control and develop into an infection.

Oral thrush is most common in babies and toddlers, appearing as white bumps on the inner cheeks and on the tongue. Fortunately, the infection is usually mild and doesn’t cause major health issues, but should be treated as soon as possible.

Yeast infection

One of the most unpleasant of Candida infections, a vaginal yeast infection is also one of the most common. Around 75% of women will suffer one of these infections at some stage during their life. (7)

Symptoms include itching, burning, smelly discharge and pain. The pain may be worse with intercourse. Up to 90% of these infections are caused by Candida albicans. Other forms of Candida are usually responsible for the remainder of yeast infections.

Nail fungus

Fungal nail infections can lead to severe irritation under the nail that causes pain and swelling, and may make the nail separate from the finger or toe.

This type of infection can cause the nails to become thickened and dull, which may cause them to split and fall off. Because these fungi are microscopic, diagnosis usually requires examination of the debris under the nail in a laboratory. This fungus can affect both fingernails and toenails, but most commonly occurs in toenails.

Intestinal Candida Overgrowth

This type of Candida infection is often seen at the same time as the above conditions. An imbalance in the gut microbiome allows Candida albicans to out-compete the other microorganisms in the gut.

As it grows its colonies, Candida albicans releases metabolites like ammonia and acetaldehyde that create a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue and brain fog. It weakens the intestinal walls, causing chronic inflammation and even allergies, and spreads to appear as topical infections in other parts of the body.

Almost everyone has Candida albicans in their gut, and a significant proportion of us may have too much of it, or a Candida overgrowth. Candida albicans only starts to cause trouble when there is some change in your body that allows it to overgrow and disturb the healthy balance of microorganisms in your gut. This change could be one of many factors, including a course of antibiotics, a prolonged diet rich in carbohydrates and sugar, and even something as common as a lengthy period of stress at work.

If you suspect that you have a Candida overgrowth, the first place to look is your lifestyle to find what could have caused this imbalance. Antibiotics? Oral contraceptives? A diet high in sugar and carbohydrates? Alcohol and drugs? Stress? Or all of the above? Eliminating all of these risk factors is a crucial step in tackling your Candida problem.

Many sufferers of Candida Related Complex remain undiagnosed by their doctors and unaware of their condition. Unfortunately, many doctors don’t recognize the systemic problems that a syndrome like Candida Related Complex causes.

How Does Candida Overgrowth Develop?

Normally, the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut, mouth, and elsewhere are able to keep your Candida levels under control. Unfortunately, when these good bacteria are weakened in any way – such as by antibiotics, illness, or poor diet – they may fail to do their job properly.

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This is especially common when your diet contains a high amount of refined carbohydrates and sugar, alcohol, or the body is simply low in beneficial probiotics.

The oral contraceptive pill and some medications can also affect your ‘good’ bacteria, as can chronic stress. Certain medications may increase the risk for developing candida overgrowth. The most common causes include topical corticosteroid medications, PPIs, birth control pills, and antibiotics.

In all these cases, a Candida yeast population can quickly get out of hand.

Candida Albicans: An Opportunistic Pathogen

Candida albicans is able to adapt quite quickly in order to protect itself and thrive, even in harsh environments like the gut.

For example, Candida can exist in at least three different forms. The yeast form survives well in acidic conditions, while the fungal form thrives in a neutral or alkaline pH. As the conditions in your intestines change, Candida is able to switch between these two forms and survive dramatic alterations in its environment.

Another way that Candida adapts is by adjusting the pH of its immediate environment. It releases metabolites like ammonia that actively raise the pH of its surroundings, enabling Candida albicans to switch from its yeast form to its fungal form. (2)

In its fungal form, it turns into an elongated hyphal cell. In this form, it is better able to break through the gut lining, which may lead to a condition called intestinal permeability (often known as Leaky Gut). (3)

A weakened intestinal membrane allows food particles, Candida metabolites, and other elements to escape from the gut and enter the bloodstream. This can lead to food allergies and more. (4)

It may also mean that Candida is able to enter the bloodstream and invade other tissues around the body.

Anyone familiar with Lyme disease will have heard of biofilms. These protective matrices are created by pathogens like Candida and Lyme to protect themselves from your body’s immune system. Just like Lyme, Candida albicans creates these in your intestines and builds its colonies inside them.

Lastly, there is evidence suggesting that Candida albicans physically changes its cell walls when it comes into contact with an acidic environment, and uses these changes to hide even more effectively from your immune system. (5)

You can see what a versatile, dangerous pathogen Candida albicans is. It actively adapts and changes to protect itself from, and in some cases make itself invisible to, your native immune system. That’s one reason they there isn’t any ‘magic bullet’ for Candida overgrowth, and why a successful treatment plan should include probiotics, dietary changes, antifungals, and enzymes.

What the Research Says

Many Candida albicans infections, even yeast infections, can be traced back to an overgrowth of Candida in the gut.

Unfortunately, conventional medicine rarely recognizes intestinal Candida overgrowth (or Candida Related Complex) as a serious issue. Although many people today are affected by gut dysbiosis and the major impact it has on their health, Candida overgrowth is sometimes portrayed as a false illness.

However, emerging studies have shown that Candida overgrowth does indeed exist and can be responsible for a number of health concerns. Researchers explain that a high-level Candida colonization is often associated with several diseases and symptoms of the gastrointestinal tract. (1)

In addition, results from animal studies have demonstrated that Candida colonization delays healing of inflammatory conditions, and that this kind of inflammation promotes further colonization.

While the causes and symptoms are sometimes difficult to pinpoint and diagnose, it’s important to be able to recognize what may be causing your health issues.

How to Treat Candida Overgrowth

Treating a Candida overgrowth infection depends largely on the type of infection. However, the root cause is often the overgrowth of yeast in the gut, which generally stems from an imbalance in the intestinal microbiome. That’s why diet is one of the most important first steps in tackling the infection.

A Low Sugar, Anti-Inflammatory Diet

The correct diet can help to reduce the spread of Candida albicans in the gut. This means eliminating inflammatory foods like junk food and gluten, and avoiding the added sugars that Candida albicans needs to grow and spread.

Adding antifungal foods such as coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, and garlic can also help to halt the growth of yeast in the gastrointestinal tract. Fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut provide some of the probiotic bacteria that your gut needs to repair and rebalance itself.

Cutting your intake of refined sugar and carbohydrates is the most important aspect of this diet. The Candida yeast needs sugars to build its cell walls, expand its colonies, and create the biofilms that it uses to hide from your immune system. Refined sugars should be eliminated completely, but natural sugars should also be kept to a minimum. (8, 9)

The Candida diet is an anti-inflammatory, low sugar diet that is designed to deprive Candida albicans of the food that it needs, repair the gut, and rebalance the intestinal microbiome that is so important for our health.

Probiotics

Probiotic foods and supplements help to restore the ‘friendly’ bacteria that work to overcome or crowd out harmful yeasts and ‘bad’ bacteria.

Taking a high-quality probiotic supplement that contains a variety of strains (mainly Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria) is essential for treating Candida overgrowth. It’s especially recommended following a course of antibiotic treatment, as antibiotics tend to kill off healthy bacteria populations.

Probiotics will help to restore the natural balance of the digestive system and replenish healthy bacteria. At the same time, probiotics can help to boost the immune system and support the body’s natural defenses in overcoming opportunistic yeasts. (10)

Adding probiotic bacteria to your meals is easy: simply choose probiotic foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut or unsweetened yoghurt. A probiotic supplement is a more convenient means of delivering a high dose of healthy bacteria directly to the gut.

In both adults and children, probiotics are effective in preventing gastrointestinal colonization by Candida and reducing the risk of fungal colonies spreading throughout the gastrointestinal tract. This can go a long way in reducing the rate of bacterial and/or fungal infections.

Antifungals

Antifungal treatments tend to come in two different forms for Candida.

There are topical antifungal treatments, like coconut oil or prescription creams, which are used to treat skin infections. And there are also antifungal treatments like nystatin or caprylic acid, which are used to treat internal infections.

Most antifungals work by disrupting the cell walls of Candida albicans. Prescription antifungals tend to come with a long list of side effects and are not always well tolerated. Natural antifungals like caprylic acid and grapefruit seed extract are excellent choices for tackling an intestinal Candida infection.

Antifungal foods can be another useful addition to your toolkit. For example, virgin coconut oil harbors powerful antifungal properties. It’s great for applying directly to topical yeast infections such as athlete’s foot. It may even help to prevent skin infections from developing.

Coconut oil is also a good example of an antifungal food. Foods like coconut oil, rutabaga, garlic, ginger, and cinnamon all have antifungal properties that have been shown to slow down or inhibit the activity of Candida albicans. (11)

Good hygiene

In the case of fungal skin infections, a major contributor to their development is poor hygiene. Your feet especially can be a warm, sweaty environment which is great for helping microorganisms to thrive.

Footwear and clothing should be washed regularly, and skin should be allowed to breathe as often as possible by going barefoot. Shower every day and try to wear only cotton clothing against the skin, as the natural fibers allow better ventilation.

Essential oils

Oregano oil and tea tree oil are two well-known treatments for athlete’s foot. Tea tree oil is recommended by the American Cancer Society as a topical antiseptic when used on the skin to kill germs – even those resistant to other antibiotics. Both are effective in treating many other types of fungus. Oregano oil is also available as an oral supplement to treat Candida of the gut. (12)

Taking Care of Candida Albicans Overgrowth

If you have been unwell with digestive issues, or you’ve noticed a fungal skin condition, it’s important to act as quickly as possible.

Candida overgrowth won’t go away by itself, and it must be attacked from all angles. This means a low sugar anti-Candida diet, antifungal treatments and probiotics should form the basis of your treatment plan.

If you have a topical Candida infection, good hygiene practices will also play an important role.

Candida albicans is a really unique microorganism. It uses various strategies to protect itself and hide from your immune system.

These strategies make Candida difficult to treat with a single therapy, and they are why Dr Eric and I recommend a multi-faceted treatment plan in our Candida treatment program. Using a combination of diet, probiotics, and antifungals is the best way to get relief from Candida.

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Rare Disease Database

Since Candida Albicans is supposed to be present in healthy people, treatment is very rarely needed. The American Academy of Allergy and Immunology has stated that the concept of yeast allergy or Candidiasis hypersensitivity is speculative and unproven. Health foods and vitamins are not effective treatments.

If the patient is taking a broad spectrum antibiotic, it is helpful to stop treatment so that the usual bacterial flora of the mucous membranes is restored. If possible, treatment with corticosteroids and immunosuppressive drugs should also be stopped. Patients who are particularly prone to Candidiasis infections (e.g., diabetics) should particularly try to avoid taking the types of drugs that encourage growth of fungus.

Treatment of Skin or Vaginal Candidiasis with local applications of nystatin, clotrimazole, or miconazole may be effective in many cases. To treat inflammation and itching simultaneously, antifungal and corticosteroid creams may be used together.

To prevent and treat Candidiasis of the mouth, good oral hygiene is imperative, especially by denture wearers. To treat acute pulpar alveolar cellulitis (an infection of the connective tissue lining the root canal), removal of decayed and foreign matter from the mucous surfaces, rinsing with warm salt water or baking soda solution can be helpful. Medications applied through the root canal have also proven to be effective in some cases.

Vaginal Candidiasis – Treatment of the vaginal discharge and itching in this type of infection consists of administering specific antifungal drugs. Proper hygiene habits and control of diabetes when applicable can help to avoid repeated infections in women who are particularly prone to this infection.

To prevent Candida infection of the Vagina or Penis from spreading when one sexual partner is infected, nystatin may be prescribed to both partners.

For candidal diaper rash, the skin should be kept dry by changing diapers frequently. Use of petroleum jelly and talcum powder should be avoided. In severe cases, plastic pants and plastic disposable diaper coverings should not be used. Certain creams and ointments may be prescribed by a physician.

For treatment of Chronic Mucocutaneous Candidiasis, amphotericin B, nystatin, clotrimazole, miconizole or 5-fluorocytosine are useful drugs. Antifungal and immune system-stimulating substances (such as the molecule that can transfer immunity from a sensitized to a non-sensitized individual) called transfer factor, thymosin, thymus epithelial cell transplantation, and levamisol, are also used in treatment. (For more information on these disorders, choose “immunodeficiency” as your search term in the Rare Disease Database.)

A new drug for the treatment of Candidiasis, Cryptococcal Meningitis, and other persons with weakened immune systems such as AIDS patients has recently been approved by the FDA. The drug diflucan (fluconazole) has been found effective against these types of infections in persons with weakened immune systems.

The drug amphotericin B lipid complex (Abelcet) has received an orphan drug designation for the treatment of Candidiasis. More studies are needed to determine the long-term safety and effectiveness of this drug for the treatment of Candidiasis. For more information, contact:

The Liposome Company, Inc.

One Research Way

Princeton. N. 08540

Vaginal yeast infection

Medicines to treat vaginal yeast infections are available as creams, ointments, vaginal tablets or suppositories and oral tablets. Most can be bought without needing to see your provider.

Treating yourself at home is probably OK if:

  • Your symptoms are mild and you do not have pelvic pain or a fever
  • This is not your first yeast infection and you have not had many yeast infections in the past
  • You are not pregnant
  • You are not worried about other sexually transmitted infections (STI) from recent sexual contact

Medicines you can buy yourself to treat a vaginal yeast infection are:

  • Miconazole
  • Clotrimazole
  • Tioconazole
  • Butoconazole

When using these medicines:

  • Read the packages carefully and use them as directed.
  • You will need to take the medicine for 1 to 7 days, depending on which medicine you buy. (If you do not get repeated infections, a 1-day medicine might work for you.)
  • Do not stop using these medicines early because your symptoms are better.

You doctor can also prescribe a pill that you only take by mouth once.

If your symptoms are worse or you get vaginal yeast infections often, you may need:

  • Medicine for up to 14 days
  • Azole vaginal cream or fluconazole pill every week to prevent new infections

To help prevent and treat vaginal discharge:

  • Keep your genital area clean and dry. Avoid soap and rinse with water only. Sitting in a warm, but not hot, bath may help your symptoms.
  • Avoid douching. Although many women feel cleaner if they douche after their period or intercourse, it may worsen vaginal discharge. Douching removes healthy bacteria lining the vagina that protect against infection.
  • Eat yogurt with live cultures or take Lactobacillus acidophilus tablets when you are on antibiotics. This may help to prevent a yeast infection.
  • Use condoms to avoid catching or spreading other infections.
  • Avoid using feminine hygiene sprays, fragrances, or powders in the genital area.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting pants or shorts. These may cause irritation and sweating.
  • Wear cotton underwear or cotton-crotch pantyhose. Avoid underwear made of silk or nylon. These can increase sweating in the genital area, which leads to growth of more yeast.
  • Keep your blood sugar level under good control if you have diabetes.
  • Avoid wearing wet bathing suits or exercise clothing for long periods of time. Wash sweaty or wet clothes after each use.

Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) is a common condition and usually straightforward to treat. In contrast, complicated VVC can be intractable and cause considerable psychological morbidity. Complicated VVC includes recurrent or severe disease, or when there are adverse factors in the host.1 This includes persistent infection with species other than Candida albicans (‘non-C albicans’) and the more common recurrent albicans VVC. The importance of distinguishing the two conditions is that non-C albicans chronic vaginal yeast infection is potentially completely curable, but may need a different approach in terms of treatment modalities.2–7 This article suggests a stepwise approach to treatment using the best current evidence and the clinical experience of the authors and focuses on C glabrata since this species is responsible for the majority of cases. Other species and indeed other genera such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae can also be involved but less frequently (see supplementary table 1).

Vaginal infection with non-C albicans may occur at any age and series from India and elsewhere suggest that uncontrolled type 2 diabetes is a risk factor.8 Symptoms may sometimes stretch back over many years with a long history of misdiagnosis and frustration. At least one swab identified to species level is an essential part of the diagnostic workup of any woman presenting with chronic or persistent vaginitis. Usually, but not always, the yeast is present in large amounts and is visible on microscopy. In the event of a positive swab a repeat sample should be sent to confirm. Relatively asymptomatic cases occur and clinically it can sometimes be difficult to be sure how much of a contributor the organism is to symptoms. This is sometimes only clear after eradication and even then symptoms can be very slow to settle.

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