Candida albicans is a type of yeast or fungus that can cause infections in humans. It is a normal part of the microbiota in the mouth, gut, and vagina, but when it overgrows or enters areas where it does not normally belong, it can cause infections. Candida infections can range from mild, such as thrush (an oral yeast infection), to severe, such as invasive candidiasis (a systemic infection that can affect the bloodstream, organs, and tissues).
Risk factors for Candida infections include a weakened immune system, diabetes, antibiotics or other medications that disrupt the normal balance of bacteria and yeast in the body, and certain medical conditions that affect the skin or mucous membranes, such as HIV or cancer.
Symptoms of a Candida infection depend on the type and location of the infection. For example, symptoms of thrush may include white patches on the tongue, mouth, or throat, soreness or discomfort in the affected areas, and difficulty swallowing. Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection may include itching, burning, and a thick, white discharge.
Diagnosis of a Candida infection typically involves a physical exam and may include laboratory tests to confirm the presence of the fungus. Treatment may involve antifungal medications, such as creams, ointments, or oral medications. In some cases, it may also be necessary to identify and address any underlying medical conditions or risk factors that contributed to the Candida infection.
Prevention of Candida infections may involve maintaining good hygiene, avoiding unnecessary use of antibiotics or other medications that disrupt the balance of bacteria and yeast in the body, and managing underlying medical conditions.