Erythematous candidiasis, also known as yeast or thrush, is a fungal infection. It's caused by Candida, a type of fungus that makes up part of the normal flora inside your mouth. Here are four things you need to know about erythematous candidiasis.
What causes it?
About half of the population has the Candida fungus inside their mouths, but for most people, it's a harmless organism. However, this fungus is an opportunistic pathogen, so if it gets the chance, it will multiply. This can happen if your immune system is compromised due to HIV infection, organ transplantation, long-term steroid use, or other factors.
You don't need to be immunocompromised to develop erythematous candidiasis. The fungus can take advantage of anything that changes your oral ecology, like dentures or other dental appliances. These appliances provide a breeding ground for Candida.
Hyposalivation (low salivary flow) is another possible trigger for this infection in otherwise healthy people. Saliva helps to control bacteria and fungi inside your mouth, so if its production is decreased, Candida can take the upper hand.
What are the symptoms of erythematous candidiasis?
If you have erythematous candidiasis, you'll feel a burning sensation inside your mouth. You'll also notice red macules (flat, freckle-like patches) on your oral tissues. These macules tend to develop on the hard palate, the insides of the cheeks, and the sides of the tongue.
While other forms of oral candidiasis present with a creamy white coating on the oral tissues, this isn't a prominent feature of erythematous candidiasis, and you may not notice any white flecks at all. Due to the unusual symptoms, erythematous candidiasis tends be overlooked.
Is it serious?
If left untreated, the infection can spread from your oral cavity to other parts of your body. The infection may spread to your throat, esophagus, and if you're immunocompromised, it may reach your lungs and lead to fungal pneumonia.
Erythematous candidiasis can have serious effects on your dental health, too. Since the condition causes a painful burning sensation, you may have difficulty brushing and flossing your teeth as well as you usually do. This allows plaque to build up inside your mouth, which can cause cavities, gum disease, and other problems. To avoid these complications, it's important to maintain your oral health routine during your infection, even if it's uncomfortable.
How is erythematous candidiasis treated?
Antifungal medications are used to treat erythematous candidiasis. These medications can be given in many forms, depending on the severity of your infection. You may be given an antifungal mouth rinse; unlike regular mouthwash, you will need to swallow this after swishing it around your mouth instead of spitting it out. Antifungal medications can also be given in lozenge or pill form.
These medications will kill the fungus and stop your infection, but you may need to take additional precautions to keep it from coming back. If you wear dentures, retainers, or other dental appliances, these appliances will need to be disinfected with an antifungal rinse to avoid re-introducing the Candida infection. Your dentist can recommend a product that is safe to use with your appliances.
If hyposalivation was a factor in your infection, you'll need treatments to replace your missing saliva. Many treatments are available for this condition, including home remedies as simple as drinking more water or sucking on sugar-free candies. Your dentist may recommend over-the-counter products to increase your salivary flow, such as dry mouth toothpastes or mouth rinses. In severe cases, you may be given a prescription medication to stimulate your salivary glands.
If your mouth is burning and you see red dots on your oral tissues, you may have erythematous candidiasis. Contact local dental services to more information and assistance.