Candidiasis or thrush is a fungal infection (mycosis) of any of the Candida species (all yeasts), of which Candida albicans is the most common. Also commonly referred to as a yeast infection, candidiasis is also technically known as candidosis, moniliasis, and oidiomycosis. Candidiasis encompasses infections that range from superficial, such as oral thrush and vaginitis, to systemic and potentially life-threatening diseases. Candida infections of the latter category are also referred to as candidemia and are usually confined to severely immunocompromised persons, such as cancer, transplant, and AIDS patients.
Superficial infections of skin and mucosal membranes by Candida causing local inflammation and discomfort are common in. Most candidial infections are treatable and result in minimal complications such as redness, itching and discomfort, though complication may be severe or fatal if left untreated. In immunocompetent persons, candidiasis is usually a very localized infection of the skin or mucosal membranes, including the oral cavity (thrush), the pharynx or esophagus, the gastrointestinal tract, the urinary bladder, or the genitalia (vagina, penis).
Candidiasis is a very common cause of vaginal irritation, or vaginitis, and can also occur on the male genitals. In immunocompromised patients, Candida infections can affect the esophagus with the potential of becoming systemic, causing a much more serious condition, a fungemia called candidemia.
Children, mostly between the ages of three and nine years of age, can be affected by chronic mouth yeast infections, normally seen around the mouth as white patches.
Symptoms of candidiasis may vary depending on the area affected. Infection of the vagina or vulva may cause severe itching, burning, soreness, irritation, and a whitish or whitish-gray cottage cheese-like discharge, often with a curd-like appearance. These symptoms are also present in the more common bacterial vaginosis.
For example, a one-time dose of fluconazole (as Diflucan 150-mg tablet taken orally) has been reported as being 90% effective in treating a vaginal yeast infection
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