Candidiasis: Types, Causes & Symptoms

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

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Candidiasis is one of the most common fungal infections in the world and is caused by yeasts from the Candida genus. These yeasts are a type of fungus and while they are generally considered harmless, candidiasis should still be taken seriously. This fungal infection could be indicative of a more serious underlying condition that is weakening your immune system.

What many people fail to understand is that yeast from the Candida genus and many other types of fungus exist in and on the body all the time, on the skin and in the mouth/stomach membranes. However, the body’s natural bacterial balance keeps the growth of this fungus in check. Unfortunately, when the conditions for growth are ideal, or when the bacterial balance is compromised in some way, the fungus will aggressively spread, resulting in candidiasis.

Types of Candidiasis

There are four main types of candidiasis, which affect the mouth, the skin, the genitals, and the internal organs. Depending on the type and wherein the body the infection occurs, it will manifest in different ways and may require various treatment strategies.

Genital Candidiasis

Commonly known as a yeast infection, this is one of the most common forms of candidiasis. When the yeast in a woman’s vagina grows unchecked, it can result in itchiness, pain or discomfort during sex, a white discharge from the vagina, and inflammation of the vaginal tissues. It can be caused by pregnancy, certain spermicides or lubricants, a weakened immune system or diabetes. Although rare, a yeast infection can be passed to a male partner, where it may result in a rash or discomfort on the penis.

Oropharyngeal Candidiasis

We all have Candida in our mouths but when it grows out of control, it can cause small white patches on the tongue, the roof of the mouth, inner cheeks, tonsils and the back of the throat. People who are elderly, suffer from diabetes, are being treated for cancer, use an inhaler, or have a weakened immune system are susceptible to this variety, also commonly known as oral thrush. If this infection spreads to the throat, it can cause painful swallowing and may lead to Candida infections in other parts of the body.

Invasive Candidiasis

This particularly dangerous variety of Candida infection occurs when the fungus enters the bloodstream, often following a medical procedure. This will allow the infection to spread to the heart, brain, eyes and other parts of the body. Depending on where in the body the infection lands, there are different names for the infection and is potentially life-threatening. Aggressive anti-fungal medication is required to clear the body of this infection.

Cutaneous Candidiasis

This type of infection attacks the skin, typically in areas where the skin folds over, or where there is perpetual dampness or perspiration. The buttocks, groin, armpits, and the skin between the fingers and toes are common places for the yeast to overgrow, resulting in a red, itchy or flaky skin. Treatment of this variety of candidiasis is usually the simplest, as it is the most obvious and visible form of this infection.

Causes of Candidiasis

As mentioned, the fundamental cause of candidiasis is various yeasts of the Candida genus, but there are also many risk factors that can trigger this infection, such as obesity, tight clothing, poor hygiene, damp conditions, a weakened immune system and the use of certain medications, among others.


If you are overweight, there is a good chance that some parts of your body have excess skin that folds over, making the conditions suitable for candidiasis, particularly of the cutaneous variety. This can also put general pressure on your immune system, making it easier for this infection to spread to other parts of the body.

Clothing Choice

Tight or restrictive clothing that doesn’t allow proper airflow can easily cause an overgrowth of Candida yeast, particularly in the buttocks and genital areas. It is essential to change your undergarments every day to avoid yeast infections and cutaneous candidiasis.


If you regularly use an inhaler, or have been prescribed antibiotics for any other infection or illness, those medications could cause an imbalance in your bacteria levels, leading to an overgrowth of Candida. This is an underlying factor for every type of this infection, particularly oral thrush.

Damp Conditions

These fungi require a damp environment to grow and thrive, which is why it is so often found in locker rooms, public showers and pools, and unclean clothes. Avoid exposure of your skin to these areas, as they are perfect breeding grounds for Candida.


It is essential that you properly wash on a regular basis to clear out any potential areas where Candida is spreading. This includes the bottom of your feet, your genital and buttocks areas, your armpits, and any other hard-to-reach spot on your body.

Weakened Immune System

If you have an autoimmune disease, are recovering from an extended illness, or have a generally weak immune response, you are a prime candidate for candidiasis.

Symptoms of Candidiasis

Depending on the type of candidiasis, your symptoms may appear in different forms, but they generally include fatigue, joint pain, mood issues, brain fog, discoloration of the skin/nails, sinus infections and food sensitivity, in addition to the symptoms of the specific types of candida infection explained above.

Joint Pain

Many people report joint pain and inflammation as a symptom of this infection, particularly if you are suffering from invasive candidiasis.

Chronic Fatigue

When this infection reaches the gut, it can do serious damage to the flora environment there, making it more difficult for nutrients to be properly absorbed. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies and a chronic lack of energy.

Cognitive Dullness

Also referred to as a brain fog, a Candida overgrowth will release an excess amount of acetaldehyde, which can slow oxygen delivery to the brain and do damage to nerve cells that are integral in cognitive function.

Skin/Nail Discoloration

The immune system of the gut can affect all other parts of the body, so when a Candida infection strikes, it can cause a change in your skin’s bacterial balance, leading to discoloration and inflammation.

Sinus Infections

If you regularly use antibiotics, it can make it difficult for the body to fight off future infections, allowing Candida to take up residence in the sinus cavity and cause chronic sinus infections.

Food Sensitivity

When this fungus overgrows in the gut, it can lead to Leaky Gut Syndrome, in which digested food particles enter the bloodstream, is recognized as a foreign particle and is attacked by the body’s immune system, resulting in unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects.

Mood Swings

If the candidiasis infection reaches the gut, it can affect the neurotransmitter levels in the body, specifically serotonin, leading to stress, anxiety, depression, and a generally lowered mood. Protection Status
About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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