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Today in Health & Wellness
DOCTOR AT THE DESK

Candid about Candida

"8 Things You Thought You Knew about Yeast Infection"
By: Stef dela Cruz, MDCandid about Candida

Look away, gentlemen – this one’s for the ladies. After all, genital candidiasis is exclusively for the females, right?

Wrong! That’s just one of the many misconceptions about candidiasis. Believe it or not, both women and men get genital candida infection.

Prevention, after all, is better (and much cheaper!) than cure. Before Candida sets up camp, it’s time you found out which of the statements below are facts – and which ones are just fodder for fiction.

Candida should not be present in a healthy person – fact or fiction?

Fiction. Candida albicans, responsible for genital and other types of candidiasis, is a fungus – but it’s not one you can completely steer clear of, even if you want to!

Heads up: It’s normal to have Candida. It’s candidiasis that becomes a problem.

Candidiasis develops when there is an overgrowth of Candida, or when it starts growing in relatively “germ-free” areas of the body, especially in people with a compromised immune system.

Genital candidiasis occurs only in women – fact or fiction?

This one’s a big fat myth! I hear this often enough, and it doesn’t really surprise me. Candidiasis is very common among women, after all.

In a 2010 study involving almost 500 men, about 3 out of 10 had Candidal colonies. Two out of every 10 men had outright signs and symptoms of balanitis, reported Dr. Carmen Lisboa and colleagues in the Journal of The European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

Vinegar wash helps prevent vaginal candidiasis – fact or fiction?

Fiction! The vaginal milieu has its own ecology. Just like us in the world we live in, the microorganisms in the genital tract depend on many things to maintain an ecological balance, including the right degree of acidity.

Yes, bacteria hate it when vaginal pH becomes more acidic than it should be. However, Candida prefer the opposite. “Candida thrive in acidic environment,” says Dr. Mariano.

FYI, vinegar is acidic. Candida tends to flourish in its presence!

Using betadine wash regularly can put a stop to candida growth – fact or fiction?

Fiction!Remember how the vaginal milieu needs a delicate balance for bacteria and candida not to overpower each other? Using betadine wash may disturb this balance and lead to more problems.

In a nutshell, there is no need to sterilize your private parts! For more advice on feminine hygiene, please ask your gynecologist before buying any over-the-counter feminine wash.

Taking antibiotics cures candida infection – fact or fiction?

Antimicrobial use can actually worsen (or precipitate) candidiasis, especially if used for a long period of time.

“If you’re using antibiotics for a prolonged period of time, you may be doing so because the antibiotics aren’t working. There may be a need to shift to other antibiotics,” advises Dr. Mariano.

Candidiasis is caused solely by poor hygiene – fact or fiction?

Poor feminine hygiene may play a role, but it’s not the only factor (nor is it a necessary one) that contributes to the overgrowth of Candida.

Pregnant women, people who have diabetes, those who love wearing tight-fitting trousers – all these are at risk for genital candidiasis. “Women using oral contraceptives, antibiotics, and steroids may also experience candida infection,” reminds Dr. Mariano.

Candidiasis in women is treated using antifungal vaginal suppositories – fact or fiction?

If candidiasis occurs without other types of infection, it may require the use of antifungal suppositories alone. However, candidiasis loves company!

In a study involving 105 women, most thought they had genital candidiasis. Further investigation revealed that less than 30 percent actually had candidiasis!

Of all the women who thought they had candidiasis, almost half had it wrong. About 17 percent had vulvar vestibulitis, 15 percent had irritant contact dermatitis, and a little more than 10 percent had bacterial vaginosis, reported Dr. Paul Nyirjesy and his team in the Obstetrics and Gynecology journal.

The person who can give you the best advice on candidiasis is your trusty BFF – fact or fiction?

It’s tempting to ask your girlfriends about what to do when you have yeast infection. However, don’t purchase medication based on advice from a friend instead of a licensed gynecologist!

“Women with chronic vaginal symptoms often use over-the-counter and alternative medicines that add to health care costs and are unlikely to be of benefit,” said Dr. Nyirjesy and colleagues in the aforementioned study.

Curbing Candidiasis

It’s not only your Facebook status that can say, “It’s complicated.” Candidal infections can be as equally complex! For instance, candidiasis doesn’t just happen inside the vagina – it may involve the vulva, too.

“Consult a doctor when you feel anything – not all types of vaginitis are alike,” reminds Dr. Mariano. “Because of the itch-and-scratch cycle, you may introduce bacteria the moment you start scratching.” This may lead to bacterial infection on top of a Candidal infection, requiring more than just an antifungal suppository.

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