There are a number of skin infections caused by yeast, which is actually a member of a group of over 20 fungi that make up the candida family. The yeast infection most commonly seen by doctors is candida albicans, a fungus that lives in the body at all times. The skin rashes caused by yeast occur when the fungus grows out of balance; the medical term for this is cutaneous candidiasis. Antibiotics are a common cause of this imbalance since antibiotics kills beneficial organisms along with the condition they were prescribed to treat.
Candida is the cause of diaper rash. Since it thrives in warm, moist environments a wet diaper is the optimal environment for it to grow. Babies are also prone to a yeast infection called oral thrush that infects the mucus membranes of the mouth. Intertrigo is a yeast infection most commonly seen in adults. It occurs in warm, moist areas where skin touches skin such as the armpits, the groin, under the breasts, and in abdominal skin folds. It is most common in people who are overweight, those who wear incontinence diapers, diabetics, and the bedridden. Yeast infections that occur around the fingernails and toenails are called paronychia and are common in diabetics. Diabetics are also prone to a yeast infection called angular cheilitis which causes scaly red skin in the corners of the mouth. Vaginal yeast infections are common in women; men acquire a similar infection of the penis and scrotum called balanitis. Both cause skin rashes characterized by red inflamed skin that itches and burns.
The majority of skin rashes caused by yeast can be self-treated with over-the-counter products. Frequent diaper changes for babies and incontinent adults along with the use of commercially available creams clear up the rash fairly quickly. Topical ointments are available for adults with intertrigo and balanitis; suppositories are also available for women with vaginal yeast infections. Oral thrush is treated with a mouth rinse called Nystatin that requires a doctor's prescription.