Candida is a yeast microorganism that’s responsible for vaginal infections, thrush (a yeast infection in your mouth), athlete’s foot, and other yeast skin rashes. A vaginal or oral yeast infection is pretty easy to clear up, but candida skin rashes, not so much. They’re like the bad houseguest that never wants to leave.

If you’ve had a persistent rash that doesn’t respond to conventional therapy, an overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans may be the root cause.

In a healthy person, a candida skin rash usually isn’t serious, but it can be persistent, uncomfortable, and annoying. Even with treatment, it keeps coming back. Here’s why:

Functionally speaking, you don’t have a skin problem. You have a gut problem that’s now manifesting on your skin.

Woman looking at candida in microscope

Understanding Candida

Candida is a type of fungus, or yeast. There are over 150 different species of candida, but Candida albicans is the most common species that causes problems for most people. (1)

Candida is naturally present inside of your body. It’s part of your microbiome, so it lives happily in your gut and all along the GI tract, with other types of bacteria and microorganisms. Normally, the good bugs keep the bad bugs in check, and everyone gets along.

Unfortunately, it’s one to take advantage of a situation!

Usually, candida stays where it should, but it’s an “opportunistic organism.” That means, if conditions are right, it can jump ship, colonize, and grow out of control in areas where it shouldn’t. Like your skin.

When candida multiplies, it can cause a fungal skin rash known as cutaneous candidiasis. You can recognize it as a red, raised, and well-defined rash with tiny bumps around the outside edges.

A healthy GI tract usually keeps candida contained. And healthy skin acts as a barrier to yeast or any type of infection. However, if you’ve got leaky gut, or your skin barrier isn’t intact or as strong as it can be, you’re more susceptible to a candida infection.

Same thing if you’ve taken antibiotics or steroids for a long time, as well as birth control pills, or other medications that can compromise your immune system. Additionally, health conditions like diabetes, thyroid disease, certain autoimmune diseases, or even bring pregnant or overweight can increase your risk of developing a yeast skin rash. (1,2,3)

Tropical beach

Candida loves a tropical environment

Candida loves to grow in a warm, humid climate, but I’m not talking weather here. You’re more likely to have a fungal skin rash in areas of your body that are warm, moist, and sweaty – like between your toes, under your arms, on your groin, under your breasts, or in any other skinfolds.

It can even spread to the scalp. (4)

If you spend lots of time in wet clothing or a humid environment or if you tend to sweat a lot and you wear restrictive clothes, you’re making a comfortable home for a candida skin rash.

Your dermatologist can diagnose a candida skin rash by examining your skin and asking about your lifestyle and medical history.

Getting rid of it can take time. Keeping the affected area(s) clean and dry, and treating it with a topical or in more severe cases, oral antifungal medication usually helps clear a yeast skin rash.

Sugary desserts

When Does Candida Become a Problem?

Although your rash is on the outside, candida overgrowth on the inside of your body may be the root of the problem.

A yeast skin rash that keeps coming back, or recurring yeast or fungal infections anywhere on your body may be a sign of candida overgrowth – which can be a problem.

In addition to fungal skin rashes, other red flags for candida overgrowth include exposure to mold in your home, or a history of excessive alcohol consumption.

Also, if you eat a Standard American Diet (full of processed foods, sugar and refined carbs), you’re at risk for candida overgrowth.

And, I might suspect it even more if have some of these other symptoms:

  • Cravings for sugar and carbs
  • Waking up in the middle of the night and struggling to fall back asleep
  • History of urinary tract infections
  • Digestive issues like diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating, ulcers, or irritable bowel diseases (5)
  • Kidney stones (candida can increase oxalates in your urine)
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Joint pain
  • Other chronic skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff), or tinea versicolor

Woman testing for candida

Testing for Candida

That’s a long symptom list, and it’s clear that left unchecked, candida overgrowth affects so much more than your skin. However, it’s important to know – you can have some or all of the above symptoms, but they may not be caused by candida.

The best way to get your answer to the “can it be candida” question, is to get tested.

Skip the “spit test”, because there’s no science behind it.

A stool test might give you some answers, but the best way to identify candida overgrowth is with a urine test that looks for an organic acid called D-arabinitol, a byproduct of candida.

Healthy salad for a candida diet

Will a Candida Diet Help?

Candida is a tough nut to crack. Even if you determine through testing and evaluation that it’s a root cause of your symptoms, it often doesn’t respond to just diet alone.

Yeast grows where there’s sugar.

So yes, a candida diet that cuts out sugar and refined carbs can be helpful. But it’s been my experience that it’s more than just sugar. A candida diet has to not only control the growth of yeast, but also heal your gut, correct any nutrient imbalances within your body, and strengthen your immune system.

A candida diet isn’t a quick fix. This podcast on How to Tweak Your Diet to Combat Candida with my guest Ricki Heller details her personal journey with the candida diet and a now rash-free life.

If you want to experiment with a candida diet, here’s where you should start:

  • Since candida overgrowth is a gut problem, it’s essential to cut out all gluten to reduce leakiness in the gut.
  • Minimize all processed carbs, starches, and added sugars in food – even gluten-free products
  • Minimize tropical fruits like bananas, papaya, mango because of their higher sugar content and opt for lower sugar fruits like berries instead
  • Avoid dried fruit
  • Increase Vitamin C in your diet (if you have a history of kidney stones, be careful with high oxalate foods like strawberries)
  • Avoid additional yeasts like brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast

Certain supplements may also be helpful to boost your immune system, feed your gut, and hopefully, improve your candida skin rashes.

  • Probiotics like Megaspore or Boulardii (only use S. Boulardii if you have no constipation because it will make stools harder) can help repopulate your gut bacteria.
  • Vitamin C is often depleted by candida (don’t take more than 500mg at a time though).
  • Anti-fungal herbs like Berberine, Oil of Oregano, and Caprylic Acid are also helpful to control invasive microorganisms. In my experience, combination products like GI Microb-X tend to be more effective.

Woman putting puzzle pieces together

Just like other chronic skin conditions, a fungal skin rash caused by candida overgrowth is a puzzle that requires an integrative approach to put the pieces together. It’s important to consider your diet, environmental toxins, lifestyle, stress, or other triggers.

If you have questions or need a starting point get my List of Root Cause Skin Tests. It will help you identify the root of the problem.