Candida is a naturally occurring fungus. When overgrown, it can cause an infection on the skin and in the nails. This infection is called candidiasis.
Men, women, and children have Candida, and everyone can get an infection. But what is Candida, what are the symptoms of infection, treatments, and how can infection be prevented? This article aims to explain all.
Contents of this article:
What is Candida?
There are over 150 types of Candida. The most frequently seen species is Candida albicans. The 15 known Candida albicans species are responsible for infections on the skin and in mucous membranes throughout the body.
Overgrowth occurs more often in moist areas of the skin. Candida infections can range from minor infections that are treated with over-the-counter medications to very serious conditions that need care from a physician.
What causes candidiasis?
Skin infections are caused by warm, wet environments. Humid weather, poor hygiene, and tight clothing that rubs and doesn't breathe well can increase the chances of candidiasis. Antibiotics can also alter the body's natural Candida, causing an infection to occur.
Candidiasis of the nails can be caused by certain jobs. For instance, those that work with irritating substances, or people who are constantly in water have an increased risk of the condition. Brittle nails can also be caused by genetics and aging. Women experience nail fungus more often than men do.
Symptoms of candidiasis
Candidiasis can cause rashes and redness in areas of the body like the armpits.
Candidiasis of the skin can have visual signs such as redness, rash, scaling, and swelling. These signs are often found where skin touches skin as well as areas that are more difficult to keep dry.
Some examples of these sensitive areas include:
- Folds of skin
- Under the breast
- Spaces between fingers and toes
- Foreskin of an uncircumcised penis
The infection will most likely itch and feel uncomfortable if not treated.
Signs of candidiasis of the nails are nails that are brittle, easily breakable, or splitting. There are often white or yellow spots under the affected nail. These symptoms can live in fingernails or toenails and can be very painful.
If untreated, the infection can make the nail thicker and even more discolored. Athletes' foot, the fungus that can spread between the toes and feet, may also occur at the same time.
Treatment for candidiasis of the skin and nails
Over-the-counter antifungal treatments like miconazole, clotrimazole, and oxiconazole can help cure infections of the skin.
To increase the likelihood of a quick recovery, keeping the skin dry is a necessary step. This may be more difficult in certain areas of the body. Powders can decrease moisture during and after recovery.
It is important to see a dermatologist if the condition doesn't improve after taking these actions. Prescription medication may be needed.
Severe skin infections, often caused by invasive candidiasis, need to be treated by a doctor. Invasive candidiasis is a serious yeast infection that affects the blood, heart, eyes, brain, and bones.
People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV, are more likely to be affected by these invasive infections. Patients should seek medical attention immediately to be hospitalized.
Nails affected by candidiasis should be kept dry and strengthened.
Nail infections can be tricky to resolve. Dr. Phoebe Rich of the American Academy of Dermatology recommends three steps in treating Candida of the nails:
- Examining possible underlying medical causes of the condition and correcting those issues if they exist.
- Keeping nails dry from harsh substances or water. Wearing gloves to do daily duties may help the condition.
- Treating nails by strengthening them. Petroleum jelly or thicker-based lubricants are better than watery lotions.
If a nail infection cannot be treated, surgical nail removal may be the best option. A new nail will grow, but it is a slow process.
Vitamin B with biotin may also help brittle nails, but it is a long-term solution and something that should be kept up as a daily supplement. If the condition doesn't subside, it is best to talk to a skin specialist about a prescription drug to help with the problem.
Preventing candidiasis of the skin and nails
Prevention is extremely important in keeping the nails and skin healthy. One way to reduce a Candida infection is to lower the amount of sugar consumed. Keeping blood sugar at healthy levels can contribute to healthier skin and nails. This is especially important for people with diabetes.
It is extremely important to keep the skin and nails dry and clean. Changing sweaty or wet clothing, washing with soap, and drying well will help avoid the spread and increase of yeast.
As for the hands and feet, choosing a reputable nail salon will decrease the chances of bacteria moving from customer to customer. It is also important to wear flip flops in public places like pools and showers.
Both the skin and nails have Candida, but balance is important. If a fungal infection does occur, home or over-the-counter remedies can be used.
People with weakened immune systems, diabetes, or other health conditions may need medical care more immediately. If a fever and rash are present, that's a sign that a doctor should be contacted right away.