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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 8, 2024.

What is candidiasis?

Harvard Health Publishing

Candidiasis is an infection caused by Candida fungi, most often by Candida albicans. These fungi are found almost everywhere in the environment. Some may live harmlessly along with the abundant "native" species of bacteria that normally colonize the mouth, gastrointestinal tract and vagina.

Usually, Candida is kept under control by the native bacteria and by the body's immune defenses. If the mix of native bacteria is changed by antibiotics or the body moisture that surrounds native bacteria undergoes changes in its acidity or chemistry, it can allow yeast to thrive and cause symptoms.

Candidiasis can affect many parts of the body, causing localized infections or larger illness, depending on the person and his or her general health.

Candida infections can cause symptoms in healthy people. Usually the yeast infections are limited to the mouth, genital area or skin. However, people with a weakened system from illness or medications such as corticosteroids or anticancer drugs are not only more susceptible to topical infections, they also are more likely to experience a more serious internal infection.


Places on and in the body that may be affected by candidiasis include:

Symptoms of candidiasis

Candidiasis causes different symptoms, depending on the site of infection.

Diagnosing candidiasis

Your doctor will want details about your medical history. He or she also will ask about your diet and about your recent use of antibiotics or medications that can suppress the immune system. If your doctor suspects cutaneous candidiasis, he or she may ask how you care for your skin and about conditions that expose your skin to excessive moisture.

Often, your doctor can diagnose thrush, cutaneous candidiasis, or vaginal yeast infection by a simple physical examination. However, if the diagnosis is uncertain, your doctor may obtain a sample by gently scraping the involved surface to examine under a microscope or may send it for culture. A culture is especially helpful if you have a yeast infection that returns after treatment. In this case, the culture can help identify whether the yeast is resistant to usual antifungal therapy. If your doctor suspects that you have an undiagnosed medical illness that increases your risk of candidiasis — such as diabetes, cancer or HIV — blood tests or other procedures may be necessary.

To diagnose Candida esophagitis, your doctor may to need to refer you to a specialist who can examine your esophagus with an endoscope, a flexible instrument that is inserted into your throat and allows the doctor to look at the area directly. During this examination, called endoscopy, the doctor will take a sample of tissue (either a biopsy or a "brushing") from your esophagus to be examined in a laboratory.

To diagnose deep candidiasis, your doctor will draw a sample of blood to be checked in a laboratory for the growth of Candida fungi or other infectious agents.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

Expected duration of candidiasis

In otherwise healthy people who have thrush, cutaneous candidiasis, or vaginal yeast infections, Candida infections usually can be eliminated with a short treatment (sometimes a single dose) of antifungal medication. However, in people with AIDS or other diseases that weaken the immune system, Candida infections can be difficult to treat and can return after treatment. In people with weakened immune systems, candidiasis can be life threatening if it passes into the blood and spreads to vital organs.

Preventing candidiasis

In general, you can prevent most Candida infections by keeping your skin clean and dry, by using antibiotics only as your doctor directs, and by following a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition. People with diabetes should try to keep their blood sugar under tight control.

Treating candidiasis

Treatment of candidiasis varies, depending on the area affected:

When to call a professional

Women that are otherwise healthy can self-treat for simple candida vaginitis. Call your doctor if it persists despite topical therapy or it recurs soon after treatment.

For other symptoms that may be caused a candida infection, contact your doctor for advice.


Typically, in otherwise healthy people with superficial candidiasis, a properly treated infection goes away without leaving permanent damage. Superficial candidiasis may take longer to treat and is more likely to recur in people that need long courses of antibiotics.

In people with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems, episodes of candidiasis may be more resistant to treatment and may return after treatment ends. In people with deep candidiasis, those who are diagnosed quickly and treated effectively have the best prognosis, especially if their infection can be stopped before it spreads to major organs.

Additional info

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Learn more about Candidiasis

Treatment options

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.