Candida albicans is a fungus that causes opportunistic oral and genital infections in humans.
When cultured in standard yeast medium at 20 degrees Celsius, C. albicans grows as yeast cells and can undergo a morphological shift to pseudohyphal growth with mild environmental changes in temperature and pH.
At 37 degrees, Candida albicans demonstrates germ tube formation, which is an outgrowth produced by spores during germination. The germ tube differentiates and grows to create hyphae. Evidence of germ tube formation is strongly indicative of Candida albicans.
Infection of the vagina can cause intense itching, burning, and irritation.
Infection of the vagina can cause a characteristic whitish cottage cheese-like discharge.
Irritation of the vaginal mucosa often causes a fiery red appearance of the mucosal tissue.
Diabetes mellitus is characterized by elevated blood sugar levels and can make a patient more susceptible to C. albicans infections as the organisms thrive due to the elevated blood sugar levels and the immune system being partially compromised.
Prolonged antibiotic use is a risk factor for C. albicans infections as the normal flora is wiped out, allowing C. albicans to overgrow.
Overgrowth of C. albicans in the esophagus causes esophageal thrush and only occurs in patients in immunocompromised states. Patients typically present with painful swallowing.
Diaper rash is a rash in the diaper area and can be caused by C. albicans.
Endocarditis refers to inflammation of the lining of the heart chambers and heart valves. Although rare, C. albicans can cause infective endocarditis when introduced into the bloodstream. This manifestation can be seen in IV drug abusers.
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