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Fungal Skin Infections Part 2
25 July 2013 No comments
Dear Scratcher (You), I'm Back with a Vengeance. Lovingly Yours, Itch
Hello there fellow scratcher. If you missed part 1 of this series, click here. You might want to read up on that first to get oriented.
Your itch is back with a vengeance. This time, it's better and more equipped than before.
The second group of fungal organisms which can start out and cause an itch is the Candida species. There are more than 20 Candida species which can cause infection. Among us humans, the most common is Candida albicans. NORMALLY, a small population of Candida thrive on our skin and mucous membranes. Mucous membranes are just the lining of your gastrointestinal tract, genitourinary tract (where your pee passes through) and respiratory tract (your airways). They maintain contact with the outside environment. You see, Candida is a very opportunistic microorganism. The first chance it gets, to overpopulate and displace all the other microorganisms that dwell in that specific region of your body, it will do so. Once this burning (and itching) desire to multiply follows its path, the symptoms appear.
CLASSICALLY, the fungal skin infection brought about by Candida species will manifest as an ITCH (sophisticated term would be pruritus). In our discussion, it’s the itch. The itch, of course, is only felt on the skin. Can you feel an itch inside your intestines? Of course not. When we say cutaneous candidiasis, we're referring to the fungal skin infection caused by Candida species. Cutaneous candidiasis is the most common form of candidiasis. Under cutaneous candidiasis, we can have specific infections based on the area they pester:
- 1. Candidal intertrigo. Intertrigo means infection between two closely opposing skin surfaces. They are termed intertriginous areas. When the term candidal is added, it suggests infection by Candida species in those intertriginous areas. Intertriginous areas in the body include the axilla of the arm, skin folds under the breasts, between the digits of your toes and hands, anal and groin areas. These areas create a lot of moisture and friction between two rubbing skin surfaces. Both of these conditions coupled with tight fitting clothes and obesity promote overgrowth of Candida species. An extreme form of intertrigo between the digits of your hands and feet is termed erosio interdigitalis blastomycetica (very tiring to pronounce!). Here, the lesions seen are pronounced abnormal reddening of the skin with surrounding erosions and macerations.
- 2. Angular cheilitis. This candidal infection also goes by the names cheilosis, angular stomatitis, and perleche. This lesion is located at one or both corners of your mouth. You can see it as deep splits or cracks. When the condition is severe enough or left untreated, it can bleed when you utter the slightest sound or word, or when you eat. (Other non-fungal causes include bacterial organisms and nutritional deficiencies).
- 3. Candidal paronychia. Paronychia is an infection of the nail fold on your finger or toe. The nail fold is just the skin adjacent your nail. It can be bacterial or fungal in nature. The infection can affect the nail itself. No pus is seen in candidal paronychia, but the infection can be persistent.
- 4. Diaper candidiasis. Unless you wear diapers, you're not at risk for this type of candidal infection. Concerned mothers usually call this as diaper rash. It occurs where the diaper is in contact with the baby's skin. They usually occur simultaneously when your baby starts to eat solid foods.
- 5. Perianal candidiasis. Do you scratch your bottom often? Are you always trying to resist the urge to scratch your bottom? You might have pruritus ani. This is irritation that's present around your anus urging you to scratch. Once you start to scratch, soreness and a burning sensation ensue. A yeast infection is just one of the many causes of pruritus ani.
Note: There are other specific types of candidal infections of the skin. The ones described above are the more common ones.
A thing which differentiates candidiasis from the dermatophytes (Larry, Curly and Moe from Fungal Skin Infections Part 1), is their ability to spread to deeper parts of your body, meaning your insides. Candida species can produce the following when inside your body.
- 1. Oral Candidiasis. This type of candidiasis is found in your oral cavity and may even extend up to your esophagus (the muscular tube connecting your mouth to your stomach). It also goes by the name “thrush”. This happens when the population of good bacteria in your mouth is overpowered by the small, but definitely opportunistic army of Candida cells. They multiply and produce symptoms.
- 2. Candidal Vulvovaginitis. This is commonly known as vaginal yeast infection. It happens when there is an increase in the number of yeast cells in the female external (vulva) and internal (vagina) genitalia. Almost 75 percent of the ladies experience at least one vaginal yeast infection in their lifetime. You, are not alone.
- 3. Systemic Candidiasis. If you get this diagnosis, this is sad news. This is the most dreaded form of candidiasis there is (but that’s not to say it’s not treatable). Another equally scary medical term for this is invasive candidiasis. If these critters gain access to your bloodstream, it's rightfully called candidemia. It can be rapidly disseminated to other parts of your body and can gain access to different organs. If left untreated it can lead to other serious health conditions.
Why do I have fungal skin infections caused by Candida species?
Suffering from cutaneous candidiasis shouldn't alienate or marginalize your feelings towards yourself. You're not immunocompromised, or you don't have a weak immune system, JUST YET. There is a central requirement (with very few exceptions) to acquire a fungal skin infection caused by Candida species, and that is MOISTURE. The infection can only start in areas where moisture and heat are present. In addition to moisture, if you really want to keep the fire burning, obesity, a poor diet high in sugar, occupations which submerge body parts in water, and use of corticosteroids (whether topical or oral) all contribute to the emergence of a fungal skin infection secondary to Candida species.
However if candida is coupled with a markedly compromised immune system Candida species has free passage into your body and can eventually lead to invasive or systemic candidiasis.
What are the things I can do to avoid or minimize experiencing cutaneous candidiasis?
There are a lot of things you can do to avoid suffering from cutaneous candidiasis. They usually involve changes in your diet, use of probiotics and natural antifungals.
Did you know that what you eat is the most valuable part in preventing cutaneous candidiasis? Yes! It's something you can take charge of. You see, Candida species love to eat sugar (not like you I hope). If you follow a low sugar diet, you deprive them of their favorite food. Candida species need sugar to build their cell walls which are predominantly made up of sugars.
A low sugar diet will not enable them to multiply. It's that simple. Another thing we should be worried about when it comes to Candida is its ability to change form (called dimorphism). Instead of yeasts (round) they change into filamentous (elongated) forms. This form allows them more mobility and more mobility supports their ability to invade. Giving them sweets enables the change from yeasts to filamentous forms. Sugar limitation will halt cellular growth and cease the transformation process. Adjust your diet to a low sugar one gradually. Cut back on the sweets and desserts. Say no to Candida overgrowth by saying no to sugar.
Probiotics. The next item on our list gives importance to your gut health. Normally, your intestines maintain a beneficial population of good bacteria. These good bacteria make your digestion optimal and your immune system strong. Although our topic is about fungal SKIN infections caused by Candida species, you still need a strong immune system to keep the number of Candida species present on your skin in balance.
If your immune system is weak, Candida species will easily invade your internal organs and cause more damage. Some antibiotics taken by mouth can really wipe out bad AND good bacteria. This is the perfect opportunity for the Candida in your intestine to increase in numbers.
Remember, your immune system depends largely on the nutrients you absorb via the gastrointestinal tract. If your digestive system can't perform its function of absorption well, your immune system will be compromised. The answer? Probiotics. These are helpful bacteria, which are reintroduced into your digestive tract. They overpower the opportunistic Candida and restore normal digestion to boost your immune system.
Last but definitely not least, the WMD or weapons of mass destruction. Just kidding. We're not talking about nukes, I'm simply referring to natural antifungals. Examples include oil of oregano, garlic, caprylic acid and grapefruit seed extract. Instead of using antifungal drugs, why not try natural alternative solutions. They may even work better for you. What have you got to lose?
Whenever you feel the urge to scratch, take a look at that itch. It may be one of two possible fungal groups pestering you. Scratching will NEVER make it go away. If you want more details regarding any one or all of these preventive and therapeutic methods to combat this ever opportunistic fungus, you can consult one of our qualified staff. The solution given to you is very personalized in order to fit your needs. You'll be happy and satisfied you contacted us
Before we end this newsletter, remember this, preventing cutaneous candidiasis is a lot easier than treating it. There are natural and alternative ways to prevent cutaneous candidiasis. Say....”Hello healthy skin and farewell itch”.
If you missed part 1 of this series, click here.
Posted in: Candida & Fungal