311: What Causes Candida Overgrowth (and How to Stop It)

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One of the questions I hear a lot is “what causes candida overgrowth?” 

Because Candida is one of the underlying root causes that can cause your gut and your skin microbiomes to become imbalanced or dysbiotic, it must be factored into your case. Specifically, since Candida + other fungal organisms can trigger rashes to flare up.

Candida can be super frustrating to deal with because it’s such an opportunistic fungal bug

We’ve all got Candida living in our bodies (including in your intestinal tract) and on your skin. You can’t eliminate it completely. 

It’s just that when conditions are right for it to get out of hand…it does so quite quickly.

And the truth of the matter is, candida overgrowth can be tricky not only to identify as the root cause of your skin rash, but also to get under control. 

Plus, sometimes a candida overgrowth in the gut can co-exist with other fungal infections or rashes on the skin to make matters even more challenging.

If you’re wondering if Candida is what’s causing your rash, be sure to download my Skin Rash Root Cause Finder here to help you uncover what your unique root cause combo is. This is the same 16 possible root causes that I assess every client for to help them break free of rashes.

So, let’s talk about what causes candida overgrowth — and how to get rid of it!

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In This Episode:

  • 7 common causes of candida overgrowth
  • Candida overgrowth signs + symptoms
  • Where candida rashes typically show up
  • Fungal skin infections (there’s more than just Candida!)
  • How to get rid of candida overgrowth


“Candida overgrowth on skin can show up in those damp, moist places that fungus loves to hide and multiply in.”

“Fungal overgrowth internally can trigger rashes on your skin — without necessarily having fungal overgrowth on your skin.” 


woman laying down with stomach pain

311: Candida Overgrowth Symptoms {FULL TRANSCRIPT}

Welcome back to episode 311 of the Healthy Skin Show! In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about what candida overgrowth looks like and what the symptoms can include.

To kick things off, let’s start with some of the typical candida overgrowth signs that include things like:

  • Oral thrush, where Candida causes a mouth yeast infection and painful bumps on the tongue and roof of the mouth
  • Vaginal yeast infections
  • Gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea — basically any of the typical signs that your gut health is out of balance
  • Intense sugar cravings
  • Reactivity to sugar, starchy foods or alcohol
  • Eczema-like skin rashes typically with very clearly defined borders (diagnosable via a KOH skin scraping done by your dermatologist)
  • Fungal infections of your fingernails or toenails
  • A distinct increase in itchiness at night
  • And a lot of people with candida overgrowth also complain of feeling tired…whether that’s the actual Candida making you feel tired or something like nutrient deficiencies that often are a result of Candida, it’s hard to say.   

Now, it’s important to clarify that you can absolutely have a candida rash without having any of these symptoms that I just talked about. For example, you can have a candida armpit rash without ever experiencing any GI symptoms or even vaginal yeast infections at all.  

And it’s also important to note that Candida isn’t the only type of fungal skin infection, rash, or gut overgrowth issue you might have going on at the same time. 

Frequently in my practice, I see candida overgrowth in the gut in cases of psoriasis, chronic hives, dandruff, and eczema that acts as a trigger for the skin since it increases cytokine activity. 

For example, when researchers looked at a group of psoriasis patients in 2021, they found nearly 16% of them had external fungal infections based on nail clippings and skin scrapings.(1)

Then in a 2018 review, researchers also found that patients with psoriasis were much more likely to have an overgrowth of Candida than those in the control group.(2) 

Other research has found candida and other fungal organisms present in stool testing of between 50 to 72% of psoriasis warriors.(3)


woman scratching skin rash

Where Candida Rashes Typically Show Up

So we’ve talked about some of the signs and symptoms of candida overgrowth and what that can look like throughout the body.

Candida overgrowth on skin can show up in those damp, moist places that fungus loves to hide and multiply in.


  • Armpits
  • Back of knees
  • Inside of elbows
  • Inner thigh/groin area
  • Neck
  • Hairline (Especially at the nape of your neck)
  • Buttocks
  • Vaginal
  • Mouth
  • On the feet + in between your toes
  • Under the breasts
  • Between folds of skin

Of course, candida rashes can also show up on the chest, face, lips, or any other bit of skin too, just to make things more interesting.

That said, it’s also possible to have rashes in these locations without having an actual candida overgrowth on the skin itself!

Here’s a complete list and diagram of places on your body that are deemed to be “fungal hotspots.” 


mold under a microscope

Other Types Of Fungal Skin Infections:

Here’s the thing about candida overgrowth which is distinctly different from candidiasis, a candida infection that would require medical intervention…(4)

A lot of times, people use the word  “candida” but what they really mean is “fungus.”

Candida has become a shorthand for what you might call fungal overgrowth, and this includes a fungal skin infection. 

Fungi as a family of organisms include both molds and yeasts. And Candida isn’t the only kind of yeast found in the gut and skin microbiomes.

Additionally, there are different types of Candida that include Candida albicans as well as other Candida species.

There’s also Malassezia, another naturally occurring yeast that lives in the more oily areas like your face, scalp, and eyebrows. It can also be opportunistic and over-populate when the conditions are right — which can lead to rashes, dandruff (aka. Seborrheic dermatitis), and tinea versicolor.(5,6,7)

Plus two other interesting condition-specific notes worth mentioning are that some acne cases are actually fungal acne. 

AND some cases of hidradenitis suppurativa show candida reactivity (via blood testing).

In an earlier episode of the Healthy Skin Show, I talked about Malassezia with Dr. Julie Greenberg, and she mentioned that she sees a lot of women with Malassezia overgrowth causing raccoon red patches around the eyes.

And then Ringworm is another type of fungal rash that you should be aware of.

Other species of fungi that can cause skin rashes and lesions like:

  • Geotrichum 
  • Rhodotorula   
  • Aspergillus
  • Stachybotrys

So just because you have fungal overgrowth it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s specifically Candida causing your troubles.


antibiotics and other medication

What Causes Candida Overgrowth? 

So let’s take a look at the seven most common candida overgrowth causes

1. Antibiotic Use 

Have you ever taken a course of antibiotics and ended up with a vaginal yeast infection or thrush? This is a common “side effect” of antibiotic use that studies back up, too.(8) The reason this happens when you’ve taken lots of antibiotics is that the balance of your microbiome becomes unbalanced due to the depletion of key bacterial strains that keep fungal organisms in check. So when they are removed, you become more susceptible to fungal overgrowth, even if you took the antibiotics some time ago. Plus, if you eat a lot of foods treated with antibiotics — that’s another way you could potentially reduce the number of helpful gut bacteria that normally keep those opportunistic fungi in check.

2. Steroids

Long-term topical steroid/prednisone use can also increase fungal overgrowth. Though oral and injected steroids can increase fungal overgrowth, I've seen a huge number of clients who used topical steroids or going through topical steroid withdrawal who also have fungal issues. I also talked with Dr. Christine Maren on the show about inhaler use and how that could possibly lead to yeast issues as well.(9)  

3. Alcohol 

Let’s face it, alcohol is made with yeast. So if you drink lots of alcohol (or have a history of doing so currently or in the past), it puts you at a much higher likelihood of having candida overgrowth. Depending on the severity, you may have to make a choice between your favorite adult beverage and your skin.

4. Highly Processed Foods

When you eat a highly processed diet focused around refined carbs and sugars…that often means you’re eating lower amounts of protein and fiber. That in turn alters your microbiome — favoring an environment where yeast is free to multiply.

5. Mold Exposure

Fungally environments and exposure to mold increase internal fungal overgrowth. Even past mold exposures may have set the stage for issues later on! If you live or work in a moldy environment, this can also make candida overgrowth difficult to clear. We’ve often found that institutional buildings can be mold hotspots for clients – including dorms, libraries, hospitals, nursing homes, and gyms. Recently a client found mold in her car! So it’s important to consider all the different places you spend time at.

6. Certain Biologic Drugs

Drugs like IL-17 inhibitors and TNF-a blockers can lead to an environment that encourages candida overgrowth by suppressing the part of your immune system that’s supposed to keep fungus in check.(10) In fact, these drugs carry a warning about this very issue. This is most commonly a problem for people with psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and other conditions where these drugs are often used.

7. Birth Control Pills 

Hormonal contraception can shift the gut microbiome, unfortunately. So yes, hormonal birth control pills can play a role potentially leading to internal candida overgrowth.(11)

Aside from these concerns, it’s worth mentioning that a dysbiotic microbiome from mom can unfortunately be passed to your baby

As a result, if a child struggles with fungal issues or cradle cap, it can be another clue that mom may be struggling with candida overgrowth.

With all of this said, it’s important to remember that you can have one or more than one of these reasons going on that has triggered an environment where too much fungus can thrive.

It's worthwhile to mention that internal fungal overgrowth can trigger rashes on your skinwithout necessarily having fungal overgrowth on your skin. It just shows up in the places that tend to be moist. 

You can also have a fungal infection on the skin, a fungal overgrowth internally, and both of these things at the same time!


tree roots

How To Get Rid Of Candida Overgrowth

Some of these reasons we just discussed require more work than others to rebalance your fungal load.

And most of the time, a candida overgrowth treatment requires a multi-pronged approach. You need more than just that *one* magic trick or tip. You need to go deeper and uncover the reason or reasons underlying why your body’s out of balance and allowing too much fungus to grow.

I will say that a lot of times on the internet you’ll see recommendations to follow the “candida diet” and from a clinical standpoint, it’s typically not helpful. 

Sure, diet plays a role in the balance of your entire gut microbiome but I’ve often found the “candida diet” or a “sugar-free” diet to be entirely unhelpful in the long-term resolution of candida overgrowth.

The reason is that candida (and fungal organisms) are hardy and difficult to “starve”. They will likely outlast your diet efforts which is why the symptoms start to return as you try reintroducing even healthy sugars from things like berries or vegetables.

Plus, these restrictive elimination diets often end up triggering food fear and eating disorders. And sometimes, they even make your skin condition worse.

What I find works best to stop candida overgrowth is to identify what your specific root causes are. It’s usually 3 to 6 factors that are driving your candida overgrowth rash and when you’re able to understand what those factors are, you can create a fungal rash treatment plan that specifically targets those causes. It makes it so much simpler and more effective of a solution.

If you’d like some help figuring out the root causes of your candida rash, download my free Skin Rash Root Cause Finder here and get started!

I hope that you now have greater clarity about candida overgrowth — it’s a huge topic and obviously, there’s so much more I could share about it.

For now, this is a good start and in an upcoming episode, I’ll discuss the best testing to help you figure out candida overgrowth!

If you’ve got any questions or thoughts to share about this, leave a comment below so I can address them.

Thank you so much for tuning in and I look forward to digging deeper with you in the next episode!


woman with reference books in library


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8461225/ 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5960518/
  3. https://hrcak.srce.hr/file/244401 
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560624/ 
  5. https://www.mdpi.com/2075-1729/12/2/299
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553091/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482500/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9914570/ 
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7405946/ 
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4507294/ 
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5291939/ 

“Candida overgrowth on skin can show up in those damp, moist places that fungus loves to hide and multiply in.”

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is an integrative Clinical Nutritionist and the founder of Skinterrupt. She works with women who are fed up with chronic gut and skin rash issues discover the root causes and create a plan to get them back to a fuller, richer life.

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