Where can Candida Grow?

Yeast infections are caused by a naturally occurring fungus, known as Candida albicans. This fungus is found in small amounts inside the genital tract, the mouth and the digestive tract.  Although candida is usually kept in balance, sometimes your acidic environment can become out of balance, causing the candida fungus to grow rapidly. This overgrowth of candida can appear in different parts of the body.  The different types of candida are usually named after the place where they grow.

Where does candida grow?

  • It is common for women to get vaginal yeast infections.  Sometimes the infection also appears in the vulva which is the area around the entrance to the vagina.  The symptoms include itching or discomfort in the vagina; a thick, white, yeasty discharge; a burning discomfort when urinating; pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse; and redness and swelling of the vulva.

  • Men can get yeast infections that attack the tip of the penis. Known as balanitis, this infection appears at the glans of the penis and beneath the foreskin. Red patches, swelling and blisters are typical symptoms, sometimes with itching and burning. With some sexual partners, the yeast infection is passed back and forth between those partners so if your partner is experiencing any yeast infection symptoms, make sure that you both get treatment.
  • Oral thrush is the candida mouth infection that affects those moist surfaces around the lips as well as inside the cheeks, on the tongue and the palate.   The symptoms are curd-like, white patches which may come off when eating or brushing your teeth.  If the whitish surface is scraped off,  a red inflamed area, which often bleeds slightly, will become visible. With oral thrush, the corners of the mouth can become cracked, red and sore.

  • Oesophageal thrush occurs when oral thrush spreads to the oesophagus which is the connecting passage between the mouth and the stomach.  Swallowing can be difficult or painful and there may even be pain in the chest.

  • Cutaneous or skin candida is the name given to those infections in areas of skin that are moist and not exposed to the air sufficiently such as  diaper rash in babies; the webs between fingers and toes; the groin and the crease of the buttocks; the skin beneath breasts especially when they are large; and the fingernail beds.  The symptoms are patches of itchy, painful red skin that are often moist and weeping. The skin can peel between the fingers and the nail folds above the cuticles can become swollen.

Candida can also contaminate the bloodstream and spread through the body to cause severe infection in the organs such as the brain, the eyes, the live and the heart.  However, this is only in those who have severely compromised immune systems such as HIV positive or cancer patients or those who are on immune suppressive drugs following an organ transplant.  In such cases, a wide range of symptoms are possible from high fevers to shock and multiple organ failure.

Although there are many types of fungus that can cause an infection in any area of the body that is both warm and moist, the most common is candida.

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