The yeast candida causes fungal infections. Many people are familiar with yeast infections of the vagina. However, most are not aware that small populations of yeast are always living in the membranes lining the mouth, vagina, and intestines.

Yeast populations are usually controlled by competition with bacteria and by the body's defenses. When the bacteria-yeast balance shifts or the immune system is compromised, yeast infections can occur. When they develop on the skin, they are known as cutaneous candidiasis.

Symptoms include a red rash with itching and moist peeling. There may be pus-filled bumps around the edges.

Areas of the skin that are moist and folded—such as the groin, the skin under the breasts, and areas between skin folds of obese persons—are more likely to harbor the infection. Urine, saliva, and sweat are all moisture sources for candida.

Many topical antifungals are used to treat cutaneous candidiasis. Those in powder form can simultaneously dry moist areas. In more severe cases, the doctor may prescribe oral antifungals. When treating candidiasis, it is important to address any underlying predisposition, such as high blood sugar.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 31 Aug 2000

Last Modified: 17 Sep 2015