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What is candidiasis?
Candidiasis, often known as thrush, is caused by an overgrowth of, or an allergic reaction to, a yeast called Candida albicans. This yeast is usually found in many areas of the body and is not considered to be a sexually transmissible infection. Candidiasis is very common.
A range of factors may possibly trigger an attack of candidiais, although often there is no obvious cause. These factors include
- antibiotic treatment,
- medical conditions such as diabetes,
- skin conditions such as eczema or dermatitis,
- conditions that affect the immune system such as HIV,
- tight clothing that promotes excessive sweating, e.g. wetsuits, synthetic underwear.
What are the symptoms of candidiasis?
For women, symptoms of candidiasis may include genital itching, irritation or burning and/or an abnormal vaginal discharge.
Men with candidaisis may have itching and redness on the head of the penis (a condition known as balanitis). Some men find symptoms are more noticeable after sex. Sometimes the itching is located in the groin.
How serious is candidiasis?
Candidiasis is easy to treat and does not lead to any serious health problems.
How do I get tested for candidiasis?
Women: A doctor or nurse may look at the vagina and genital area and use a swab to collect a sample of cells from the vagina during an internal examination.
Men: A doctor or nurse may look at the penis and genital area and use a swab to collect a sample of cells from the genital area, including under the foreskin.
A swab looks a bit like a cotton bud; but is smaller, soft and rounded. The swab is wiped over the parts of the body that could be affected and easily picks up samples of discharge and cells. It only takes a few seconds and is not usually painful, though it may be uncomfortable for a moment. Find a local clinic now.
What is the treatment for candidiasis?
Candidiasis may be treated with antifungal creams or pessaries (tablets that are inserted into the vagina) or oral tablets. People with recurrent or ongoing candidiasis may require longer term treatment.
Candidiasis is not usually sexually transmitted so partners don’t normally require treatment. However if a partner has symptoms they should be treated.
Other important information about candidiasis
Some people appear to be more susceptible to candidiasis. The best way to avoid recurrences is to identify what triggers the condition. The problem should be discussed with a doctor who may investigate and manage any underlying condition.
Some of the following suggestions may be helpful:
- Wear loose cotton underwear and avoid tight clothing. For women this is important when wearing pantyhose or tights.
- Uncircumcised men should wash and dry under their foreskin daily.
- Wash genital skin with water only or a soap substitute such as aqueous cream.
- Avoid use of deodorants and talcum powder on genital skin.
- Avoid deodorised panty shields, bubble bath solutions, or vaginal douches.
- Request candidiasis treatment when prescribed antibiotics.