Candida albicans is a fungus that lives on your body in small amounts, located in your mouth, skin and intestines. Candida is yeast that is responsible for infections like thrush and vaginal yeast infections if it is off-balance with healthy bacteria in your body. Infections are common and treated with antifungal medications.
Candida albicans is a fungus that naturally lives on your body. Candida is yeast, a type of fungus, that that is typically found in small amounts on your mouth, skin and in your intestines. Healthy bacteria in your body (microbiome) control the balance of Candida. Often when Candida is off-balance, the yeast overgrows and causes infection (candidiasis).
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Candida albicans is the type of yeast that lives in your body. It can overgrow and turn into an infection if the balance of healthy bacteria and yeast is disrupted. Candidiasis is the term used to describe an infection caused by an overgrowth of yeast (Candida). Common infections include vaginal yeast infection, diaper rash and thrush.
Common types of infections caused by Candida albicans include:
Candida albicans fungus lives on everyone in small amounts. Different people are more likely to develop different types of fungal infections, most commonly:
Yeast infections are common because the balance of Candida in your body can easily become disrupted. The most common infection caused by Candida albicans is a vaginal yeast infection, which occurs in about 75% of people with a vagina at least once in their lifetime.
Candida albicans is not a sexually transmitted infection. Candida is a yeast that naturally lives in your body and can overgrow if the balance of yeast and healthy bacteria in your body changes. The balance of yeast could change as a result of sexual activity but having sex does not cause infection.
Symptoms of infection from Candida albicans usually form in areas where Candida lives naturally, including:
In normal situations, Candida won't cause any symptoms unless an overgrowth occurs due to an imbalance of bacteria. Symptoms of infection include:
Causes of infection by Candida albicans include:
Candida albicans infections located in your mouth can make eating difficult. You may have pain while eating or swallowing and lose your sense of taste. If you notice an overgrowth of yeast in your mouth that looks white and lumpy, similar to the texture of cottage cheese, contact your healthcare provider for treatment.
Normally, yeast infections are not contagious, but Candida albicans infections have the potential to spread to different hosts if you have a weakened immune system or if you are taking certain medications. It is unlikely that you will spread a Candida albicans infection if you are healthy.
If you come into contact with someone with infection by Candida albicans in their mouth (thrush), avoid contact with their saliva, although this may be tricky for new mothers. If you are breastfeeding an infant with thrush, you may develop the infection as well. Make sure to treat your infection and your baby’s infection at the same time to avoid recurrence.
A visual examination of the affected area helps diagnose Candida, specifically if it is in your mouth or genital region. Your healthcare provider will ask you questions about your symptoms, especially duration and severity. They'll also test the infection to identify exactly what it is so they can offer a comprehensive treatment plan.
Depending on the type of infection, your healthcare provider will test the infection to further diagnose the issue to offer a specific treatment plan. Tests for Candida albicans include:
Since Candida is a fungus, an antifungal medicine treats the infection to stop overgrowth. Antifungal medications come in two forms:
Your healthcare provider will give you directions on how to use each type of antifungal medication to make sure the infection clears up and doesn’t return.
Yes, you can use over-the-counter medicines to treat Candida infections, specifically vaginal yeast infections. Though this treatment option may work, if you are unsure whether or not you have a yeast infection, talk with your healthcare provider to verify the source of the infection for the best treatment.
Taking care of your symptoms starts with eliminating environments where Candida thrives. You can take steps to manage symptoms by:
In most situations, it will take an average of 10 to 14 days for the infection to clear up completely. After you begin treatment, your symptoms will decrease in severity or often go away. If your symptoms stop, you might feel like you can stop treatment, but it is necessary to follow your treatment plan from start to finish so the infection completely clears up and does not return.
You can prevent an overgrowth of Candida albicans by:
If you take antibiotics or medications that may cause an overgrowth of Candida, talk with your healthcare provider about ways to treat the possibility of a yeast infection as a side effect or an underlying health condition.
If you are healthy, Candida won't pose any threat to your well-being. If you experience any symptoms of infection, contact your healthcare provider for treatment. In most cases, symptoms will decrease or go away once treatment begins. Be sure to complete treatment as prescribed by your healthcare provider to reduce the risk of the infection returning.
You should contact your healthcare provider if you experience any symptoms (mild to severe) especially if the infection prevents you from eating or going about your normal, daily routine. Often, over-the-counter antifungal treatments may work, but your doctor will be able to best prescribe a treatment plan to combat the overgrowth of yeast and prevent it from returning.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
While fungal infections are bothersome, treatment for Candida albicans will eliminate any discomfort from the symptoms. Always follow the directions of the treatment that your healthcare provider prescribes from start to finish to make sure the infection doesn’t return.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/10/2022.
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