Candida: what are the symptoms, how is it treated and how to prevent it?

Itching, burning, annoying discharge: these are the main symptoms of candida, the most common of female infections.

Candidiasis (commonly called candida) is in fact a "fungal infection that affects the" female genital system. It is a very common disorder among women of childbearing age and in most cases it occurs several times in the course of life. It is a non-risky but particularly annoying pathology that manifests itself in a characteristic way with the classic sensation of itching, often associated with burning and discharge.

Almost 75% of women have this type of disease at least once in their life, caused in 90% of cases by a fungus called Candida Albicans. Of these, about half will have subsequent episodes, called relapses. Candida Albicans is in fact the most common form of candida, but infections caused by other species of the same family (for example candida glabrata, tropicalis or parapsilosis), and mixed infections, that is caused by fungi and bacteria at the same time, are on the increase. Candida albicans normally lives in the vaginal ecosystem without creating problems as it is regulated by specific microorganisms. As a result of an "alteration of the vaginal environment and its fungal flora, however, candida albicans stops being harmless and develops an" infection.

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The most exposed to the risk of contracting candida are women of childbearing age and sexually active. Often this disorder can also occur in girls or newborns (diaper irritation). Even men can be prone to candidiasis, even if the pathology occurs in an asymptomatic form.

Before proceeding we remind you that proper intimate hygiene is always essential: here is a video that shows you some small rules to respect it on a daily basis.

Candida: the main symptoms

  • The main symptom of candida is a nagging itch.
  • Often this is accompanied by a white loss traditionally defined as ricotta, partly solid, partly liquid, which generally does not have a bad smell.
  • In the most acute forms, outside the affected area, there may be red patches on the skin that extend to the root of the thighs, to the buttocks, to the base of the back.
  • The sense of fatigue, stomach swelling or intestinal irritation, widespread muscle aches and loss of sexual interest are all signs of a probable candida infection.
  • The craving for sugars at the end of a meal is also an unequivocal indicator of the onset of candida. In fact, candida generally feeds on simple carbohydrates; when it feels the lack of these substances, candida albicans begins to die producing some toxins which, acting on the central nervous system, induce the subject to eat something sweet. In the presence of symptoms that may suggest a candida infection, it is advisable to contact your gynecologist. The use of self-diagnosis and do-it-yourself treatment te is risky, because the use of inappropriate drugs can worsen the situation and prolong the healing time, at the same time favoring the onset of relapses.

How is candida taken? The most common causes

Candida vulvovaginitis is an infection of endogenous origin (that is, one that arises from the same organism) rather than a contagious infection. The most frequent causes underlying this pathology mainly concern the lowering of the immune defenses which can be determined by several factors, including the administration of vaccines, the prolonged intake of drugs and antibiotics, courses of cortisone-based therapies or the course of a debilitating disease. Another primary cause of the onset of candida is a poor diet, which causes dysbiosis, that is an "alteration of the bacterial flora: unbalanced diets, rich in refined sugars and poor in substances regulating the immune system, such as vitamin A, C, Beta-Carotene and Zinc weaken the body and make it more exposed to the risk of infections.

Even some personal habits can alter the vaginal ecosystem and be the cause of an infection: synthetic or too tight underwear, wrong intimate hygiene products and even chlorine in swimming pools. Candidiasis can often also be the manifestation of a Undiagnosed diabetes mellitus. The role of sexual transmission, unlike other vaginal infections such as trichomoniasis, is not so relevant. Finally, stress and pollution are also possible causes: stress candida is in fact quite frequent.

With puberty, hormonal changes can make girls more prone to candida infections: sometimes these occur just before the menstrual cycle. Pregnant women are also more prone to it, but they do not run any risk for pregnancy.

How to cure candida?

  • The most widespread treatment to combat candidiasis is generally represented by local therapy with antifungal ovules, vaginal creams or douches based on antifungals (clotrimazole, miconazole, econazole), to be continued for a period ranging from three to seven days. These local antifungals are effective only in cases of poorly resistant or non-relapsing candida.
  • Therapy with oral antifungals, on the other hand, is reserved for people suffering from recurrent episodes and for cases in which the infection is caused by candida non albicans. There are many local antifungals, including clotrimazole, econazole and itraconazole. Some they are cheaper and need a longer use, others are very expensive and it seems that few applications are enough.

Did you know that even nutrition can help prevent it?

That's right, candida is fought also and above all at the table. Here are some top foods to include in your diet to prevent and fight candidiasis and help keep the intestinal flora healthy while avoiding infections.

How long does candida last?

The duration of the candida infection depends above all on how timely the diagnosis is. As regards the healing times, in fact, we can say that these will be decidedly shorter, if the treatment is early and timely. Even if, as already mentioned, in in many cases, the candida has recurrence and will have subsequent episodes. There are no particular warnings to report for the periods of therapy, but it would be advisable to refrain from having sexual intercourse during the treatment.

Natural remedies for candida

Candida infection can also be treated with natural remedies, exploiting the powers and benefits of herbs and plants, taken both orally, in the form of herbal teas, and topically with ointments, compresses or creams.

  • Chamomile and mallow are two effective natural remedies thanks to their anti-inflammatory power.

  • Aloe vera can be an aid against the annoyance of candida: it is especially useful for reducing itching and giving an immediate sense of freshness, thanks to its refreshing properties that make it similar to mint.

  • Tea tree oil is also very effective, an essential oil from Australia, which is a real panacea for treating candida. It can be used orally or for vaginal douching.

  • Orally, they are excellent herbal teas with fennel and anise, or propolis.

The ideal clothing to prevent candida infections

Clothing is also essential to avoid the onset of infections such as candida. Wrong fabrics can play a decisive role in this case; It is in fact useful to wear cotton underwear, which does not trap moisture and does not prevent air circulation: therefore avoid synthetic materials, such as nylon and microfiber, as well as clothing that is too tight and tight. After swimming or exercising wearing very tight cotton swimsuits and clothes, it is important to quickly change the wet or sweaty garment to put on dry clothes. These are good habits and small precautions that should be respected to avoid situations that they can alter the vaginal ecosystem and lead to infection.

The recommended diet to prevent and defeat candida

Another fundamental rule to respect is to take care of the diet: limit sweets, eat fruit and vegetables regularly and enrich the diet with yoghurt and lactic ferments are in fact excellent ways to make the body stronger. An unbalanced diet and an unbalanced diet. wrong diet, in fact, they alter the bacterial flora and weaken the immune system. So choose a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and foods that regulate and strengthen the immune system: perfect foods containing vitamins A, C, Beta-Carotene and Zinc.

As we said, one of the most suitable foods when you have candida is yogurt, obviously low-fat, as it is sugar-free. Turmeric, garlic - thanks to its antifungal and antibacterial power - and extra virgin olive oil are also excellent. Unlimited fruit, vegetables and legumes, and in particular green light for salad, artichokes, peas, beans and lentils.

Candida: some useful tips to prevent it

To prevent the onset of candida it is good to respect some personal hygiene rules every day, first of all, carefully wash the affected parts with an acid soap, especially during sexual intercourse. In most cases, it is possible to prevent candidiasis infections vaginal using gentle and non-perfumed intimate hygiene products and avoiding vaginal sprays or douches, which alter the bacterial flora. Contrary to popular belief, the use of intimate washes is not recommended because, by eliminating or reducing vaginal secretions, they alter the environment and can facilitate the establishment of infections.

See Also: 50 High-Fiber Foods To Eat Regularly

© iStock Foods rich in fiber

You can find other useful information on candida on the websites of the Ministry of Health and the Ulmberto Veronesi Foundation

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