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Thrush and other Candida infections

Candidosis (Candida infection) leads to an excessive proliferation of yeast fungi of the genus Candida. Localized infections of the skin and adjacent mucous membranes (“local candidiasis”, also referred to as “thrush”) are differentiated from systemic candidiasis, in which the pathogens often spread on the bloodstream in several organs.

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What is a Candida infection?

Candidosis is an excessive proliferation of yeast fungi of the genus Candida in or on the human body. Because the human body is not sterile – a variety of different bacteria, protozoa and fungi colonize, among other things, on the skin and in the intestine.
This naturally occurring germ colonization is also referred to as a resident skin or mucosal flora or as a so-called site flora. The locus flora is important and useful for the body and consists of mostly harmless germs (commensals), which protect against the infestation with pathogenic microorganisms.

The genus Candida includes numerous yeasts, which often colonize the skin, mucous membranes of the mouth and throat and the external genitalia and in more than half of Europeans in the colon also in healthy persons. The most commonly detected Candida species is Candida albicans.

During childbirth or infancy, the fungus reaches and enters the body where it proliferates as a component of the skin and intestinal flora. However, other microorganisms and the immune system limit the growth of Candida albicans, so it usually causes no discomfort (“colonization”).

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However, if Candida yeasts multiply excessively and they manage to break through the skin or the mucosal barrier of the body, they trigger different symptoms and clinical pictures (see section Symptoms). Examples are inflammation of the skin in the genital area (vaginal mycosis or balanitis) and diaper area (diaper dermatitis), as well as in and on the mouth (oral thrush, “fouling”).

Especially the body folds (“Intertrigines”) are affected, especially if moisture can accumulate there (Candidosis intertriginosa, intertriginous Candida). For example, between fingers and toes or in the big body wrinkles, like the groin.

Candida yeasts can spread through the blood vessels throughout the body and cause life-threatening blood poisoning (sepsis). Affected by such systemic Candida infections are mainly people with a severely impaired immune system.

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