What Are the Symptoms of Candida Infection?

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Candida is a type of fungus that everyone has on their skin and in their body. Usually, bacteria in our bodies keep it under control and Candida causes no problems, but if it overgrows, it can cause an infection. Candida infection, or candidiasis, most commonly affects the mouth, skin, digestive system, or vagina. Taking antibiotics, having a weakened immune system, and smoking can make you more likely to develop a Candida infection. Symptoms include mouth sores, pain when urinating, vaginal discharge, and digestive problems.

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Frequent Symptoms of Candida Infection

The symptoms of Candida infection depend on what part of the body it affects. The most frequent symptoms of the most common forms of a Candida infection include thrush, yeast infection, digestive problems, and skin issues.

Candida of the Mouth and Throat (Thrush)

Candida that develops in the mouth is more common in babies and older adults. Initially, you may not notice symptoms, but symptoms may include:

  • White patches in the mouth, cheeks, tongue, and throat
  • Pain when eating
  • Redness or soreness in the mouth
  • Reduced sense of taste and dry, cottony feeling in the mouth

Thrush is not serious in most people, but if your immune system is weakened, it can spread to the esophagus and make swallowing difficult or painful. Good oral hygiene can help prevent thrush.

Vaginal Candida (Yeast Infection)

People who use birth control pills, are pregnant, or have diabetes are among those who are more susceptible to yeast infections. Most women will have one at some point in their lives.

Common symptoms of yeast infections include:

  • Vaginal itching
  • Vaginal soreness
  • Redness of the vagina
  • Pain or burning feeling when you urinate
  • Unusual vaginal discharge

Men can also get yeast infections of the penis which, like vaginal yeast infections, can be treated with over-the-counter fungal creams.

Candida in the Digestive System

Candida lives naturally in your gut, but forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can cause it to overgrow. If so, symptoms can occur, including:

  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Gas
  • Bloating

The connection between IBD and Candida is not confirmed, but there is some evidence that they may be linked.

Candida on the Skin or Nails

The Candida fungus can also grow on your skin, often around the genitals, mouth, nail beds, and in folds of the skin. Symptoms include:

  • Rash
  • Pimples
  • Oozing
  • Burning
  • Nails that swell, hurt, or separate from the bed

Topical creams and ointments can usually treat skin infections from Candida.

Rare Symptoms of Candida Infection

Candida that enters the bloodstream causes a more serious kind of infection, called candidemia. It can be life-threatening, but healthcare providers can treat it by eliminating the cause of the infection and giving antifungal medications.

Candidemia usually develops in people who are sick with other diseases, so the symptoms can be hard to identify and depend on what part of the body is affected.

Symptoms may include:

  • Fever or chills after antibiotic treatment
  • Rash
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches and weakness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Vision changes
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain

Complications of Candida Infection

Candida of the mouth, vagina, and abdominal tract rarely causes complications in healthy individuals after treatment. If you don't treat them, however, they can get worse.

If you have health conditions that weaken your immune system, you could be more susceptible to complications, which include:

  • Yeast infections that can lead to swelling and cracks in the vagina
  • Thrush that spreads to your esophagus or elsewhere
  • Digestive Candida that causes "leaky gut syndrome," which can cause breaks in the walls of the intestines
  • Candidemia that leads to secondary infections of the eyes, bone, and heart

New Form of Candida: Cause for Concern?

There is an emerging form of the fungus, Candida auris, that is drug-resistant and may spread in healthcare facilities. The symptoms vary according to the nature of the infection, but people infected with Candida auris (C. auris) should be kept separate from other individuals with underlying health conditions. C. auris is a low threat to healthy individuals.

When to See a Doctor for Candida Infection

There are over-the-counter treatments for vaginal yeast infections, but if you have them repeatedly, your healthcare provider can prescribe you a stronger medication if needed.

White patches in the mouth (which can be thrush), especially in babies and the elderly, should be diagnosed by a physician.

Candida infections can be a sign of an underlying condition like diabetes, so discussing with your healthcare provider is always advisable.

Summary

Candida fungi can be found in every person's skin and body. They usually aren't harmful, but they can cause infections if they overgrows. Candida infection commonly affects the mouth, skin, digestive system, or vagina. Symptoms include mouth sores, painful urination, vaginal discharge, and digestive issues.

A Word From Verywell

Candida fungi live in all of us, and only cause problems if they overgrow. If you have a weak immune system, you may be more likely to develop a Candida infection. These infections are largely treatable, so while symptoms shouldn't be ignored, they are not a cause for deep concern.

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11 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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