Healthy Living

What Is a Yeast Infection of the Skin?

What Is a Yeast Infection of the Skin?

Introduction

The most common type of yeast infection in the skin is candidiasis, which is caused by Candida species. There are more than 20 Candida species that exist, and the most common among them is Candida albicans. These fungi may also occasionally cause infections. Below are some of the types of Candida yeast infections:

  • ThrushThis fungal infection is characterized by the appearance of white patches in the throat and mouth. This infection often occurs in people with weakened immune systems, such as those with diabetes, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and those who take immunosuppressive medications like systemic corticosteroids. 
  • Angular Cheilitis or Perlèche: It is an inflammatory condition that causes painful patches in the corners of the mouth, particularly where the mouth and lips meet or around the angles of the mouth. 
  • Diaper Rash: A type of yeast infection that affects the diaper area. An irritation in the diaper area may lead to a Candida infection. 
  • Vulvovaginal Candidiasis: This fungal infection is caused by a yeast overgrowth in the vagina that results in itching, irritation, burning, soreness, and redness. This candidal infection is often called as a vaginal yeast infection. 
  • Intertrigo: It is a term for a rash that occurs between skin folds. Yeast infections often develop in moist and warm areas of the body, such as the groin, between the legs, under the breasts, and armpits. 
  • Congenital Cutaneous Candidiasis (CCC): It is a skin condition that occurs in newborn babies due to a premature rupture of membranes and passing through a birth canal that is infected with Candida. The skin rash usually appears within a few hours of birth. 
  • Paronychia: It is a chronic skin infection of the fingernails and toenails caused by bacteria or Candida
  • Chronic Mucocutaneous Candidiasis (CMC): It is an inherited T-cell deficiency characterized by persistent Candida infections of the skin, nails, and oral and genital mucous membranes. 
  • Erosio Interdigitalis Blastomycetica: It is a candidal infection that affects the spaces between the fingers and toes. The lesions are often macerated and appear round or oval in shape. People with diabetes and those who are always exposed to water, such as launderers and house workers are more prone to developing this fungal infection. 
  • Candida Colonization in the Gastrointestinal Tract: Candida colonization in the GI tract is not often associated with skin yeast infections. It is usually associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and ulcers in the digestive system. 
  • Systemic Candidiasis: A rare and serious candidal disease that spreads throughout the body. It occurs when the fungus enters the bloodstream and affects the major organs and other parts of the body. Recurrent systemic yeast infections may indicate more serious health conditions, such as AIDS, leukemia, or diabetes. 
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Symptoms

One of the main symptom identified in this type of infection is the presence of rashes on the skin. This rash is often known to cause redness and intense skin itching. In some cases, the infection can cause sore and cracked skin along with blisters and pustules. 

The rash may appear on other parts of the body, but it most commonly occurs in skin folds, such the armpits, under the breast, groin, and in between the fingers. Candida can also affect the nails, the edges of the nail, and even corners of the mouth. 

In most cases, cutaneous candidiasis symptoms can be confused with the following medical conditions and other skin infections:

Causes

Yeast infection of the skin or candidiasis of the skin develops when the skin becomes infected with the fungus called Candida. Normally, Candida is present in the mucous membranes, intestinal tract, and the skin without causing an infection. However, when there is an overgrowth of Candida, symptoms start to develop and can lead to infections.

Yeast infections commonly develop in people who have any of the following conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Impaired immune system due to medical conditions or certain medications
  • Pregnancy

Other factors that can lead to the development of yeast infections are:

  • Wearing of tight or ill-fitting clothes
  • Warm weather conditions
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Taking antibiotics 
  • Not changing underwear on a daily basis
  • Maintaining a damp or wet skin
  • Using corticosteroids 
  • Taking immunosuppressant drugs

It is important to note that candidiasis of the skin is not contagious. However, people who have a weak immune system may develop a yeast infection after touching the affected skin of an infected individual. Those who have a compromised immune system are also more likely to develop severe yeast infections. 

Diagnosis

Yeast infections in healthy people do not always require laboratory tests for diagnosis. A physical examination of the mouth or skin in healthy individuals is usually enough when diagnosing skin yeast infections. However, when there is a persistent infection or when the infection affects the whole body, skin scrapings may be collected and a full gynecological examination is performed to detect vaginal yeast infections. 

Treatment

The treatment for yeast infections usually depends on the type of infection being treated. In most cases, skin yeast infections respond well to medicated creams. When it comes to vaginal yeast infections, medicated suppositories may be used for treatment. Medicated lozenges or mouthwash can be used by people who have thrush. When people with weakened immune systems develop severe infections, oral antifungal medications may be given. 

The commonly used over-the-counter antifungal creams are miconazole, tioconazole, and clotrimazole. In certain cases, doctors may also recommend the use of other antifungal creams that contain ketoconazole and nystatin.

Cutaneous Candidiasis in Babies and Young Children

Cutaneous candidiasis is a type of yeast infection that affects the skin, hair, or nails. This infection is also commonly observed in babies and young children. 

The most frequently occurring yeast infection in babies is a candidiasis-related diaper rash, which usually lasts for more than three days. The rash typically appears red with a well-defined border. Its treatment includes frequent diaper changes and wearing loose-fitting clothes, especially on top of the diaper. An antifungal medication called nystatin may also be prescribed. 

Newborns and babies below 6 months old may also develop an oral thrush. The most common symptom of an oral thrush is the presence of white patches on the tongue, inside of the cheeks, and on the lips. Another symptom would be cracked skin in the corners of the mouth. Your child's pediatrician may prescribe an antifungal medication to be applied to your child's mouth several times a day. It is important to treat candidiasis because when it is left untreated, it can enter the bloodstream and cause life-threatening consequences. Consult a doctor if you suspect that your child has candidiasis. 

Healthy children may also develop candidiasis after taking antibiotics for another condition. Antibiotics can eliminate both good and bad bacteria in the body and may allow the overgrowth of Candida. Children who habitually such their thumbs may also have an increased risk of developing candidiasis in or around their nail beds. Older children who frequently develop skin infections should be tested for diabetes. 

Outlook

Yeast infections of the skin usually go away with proper treatment. Most people who have used antifungal medications for treatment often make a full recovery without any complications. If properly treated, yeast infections go away within 1-2 weeks. However, there are also recurrent cases of candidiasis even after treatment.

Recurrent yeast infections can be commonly experienced by people with impaired immune systems, particularly those who are undergoing treatment for cancer. Moreover, individuals with HIV or AIDS are more prone to developing life-threatening Candida infections. 

See your doctor immediately if you experience high fevers, headache, and severe throat pain during chemotherapy or if you have HIV/AIDS. 

Key Takeaways

  • The most common type of yeast infection in the skin is candidiasis, which is caused by Candida species.
  • One of the main symptom identified in this type of infection is the presence of rashes on the skin. In some cases, the infection can cause sore and cracked skin along with blisters and pustules.
  • The treatment for yeast infections usually depends on the type of infection being treated. In most cases, skin yeast infections respond well to medicated creams.