Skin candida caused by the fungus, candida, can take many forms and can appear in many areas of the body.
Candida species, such as candida Albicans, live naturally on our skin as part of the ecological environment we live with every day without ill effect.
Under the right skin conditions or in the presence of certain underlying disease states, candida can take hold, grow in number and invade the tissue of the skin, resulting in a skin candida infection or cutaneous candidiasis.
Types of skin candida infections
Candida Intertrigo: This perhaps is the most common form of a skin candida infection. It can occur anywhere the skin forms folds, such as the groin, beneath the breasts or between fatty skin folds.
In the warm and moist environment common to these areas, the growth of skin candida is promoted, leading to the formation of a rash that begins with tiny blisters which rupture and spread the infection.
Eventually, this manifests as a red, moist, macerated rash which is frequently itchy. Besides treating such a rash with anti-fungal therapy, keeping the affected area clean and dry is essential.
Candida Diaper Dermatitis: While technically a type of intertriginous infection, skin candida diaper infections involve diapered infants who get the infection in the folds of the groin and on the genitals due to the moistness that is nearly constant in those areas.
Parents and providers often must decide whether a reddened rash common in diapered infants is simply localized irritation or is the result of an infection by candida. A reddened rash with satellite lesions, spots of redness outside of the main rash, is almost always indicative of a candida yeast infection.
Candida Folliculitis: This kind of infection occurs when the organism infects the skin more deeply and invades the hair follicles, the tiny skin pockets that anchor each piece of hair.
The infection can be localized to the axilla, the scalp, the beard area or the groin, or it can be generalized throughout the hairy areas of the body. Because skin candida folliculitis involves deeper areas of the skin, the possibility of spread of infection to internal parts of the body exists.
Generalized Cutaneous Candidiasis: This is an unusual form of a skin candida infection involving a diffuse, red skin eruption over areas of the trunk and extremities and is often linked to a source elsewhere on the body, such as the areas usually affected by candida intertrigo. The rash begins as an area of small blisters which eventually burst and spread into a diffuse rash.
Candida Paronychia and Onychomycosis: Involving the skin folds around the nails as well as the tissue underneath the nails, this kind of skin candida infection is often red and painful. Those with diabetes mellitus or who must frequently emerse their hands in water are more likely to develop this kind of infection.
Angular Cheilitis: The role that candida plays in the development of angular cheilitis (painful, reddened cracked areas at the corners of the mouth) is two-fold. While it can be caused by localized infection, the inflammation can also be caused by a systemic process involving candida. The cheilitis, in the case, is an inflammatory reaction to the candida toxins or to the candida organisms themselves.
Chronic Mucocutaneous Candidiasis: This type of infection involves both the skin and mucus membranes in those who likely have an underlying medical condition such as endocrine diseases, auto-immune diseases and diabetes.
Candida, in these conditions, is pervasive and not something easily disposed of. Fortunately, while the infected areas are itchy and uncomfortable, the condition is not particularly dangerous nor is it commonly a cause of systemic yeast infections.
The treatment of cutaneous candidiasis and its many forms depends on the size of the skin area involved, the depth of the skin infected and on the presence of evidence that a more systemic candida infection exists concurrently.
Minor, localized infections are best treated by keeping the affected area dry and by the use of topically-applied anti-fungal therapy.
Candida skin infections suggesting deeper or systemic involvement are best managed through the use of probiotics in addition to oral anti-fungal treatment.