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Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your medical history, including diabetes, cancer, HIV, and other chronic illnesses. He or she also will ask about your diet and about your recent use of antibiotics or medications that can suppress the immune system. If your doctor suspects cutaneous candidiasis, he or she may ask how you care for your skin and about conditions that expose your skin to excessive moisture, such as using rubber gloves.

Often, your doctor can diagnose thrush, cutaneous candidiasis, or vaginal yeast infection by a simple physical examination. However, if the diagnosis is uncertain, your doctor may scrape the surface to obtain cells to examine under a microscope or may culture a skin sample to identify fungus (yeast). A culture is especially helpful if you have a yeast infection that returns after treatment. In this case, the culture can help identify whether the yeast is resistant to usual antibiotic treatments. If your doctor suspects that you have an undiagnosed medical illness that increases your risk of candidiasis — such as diabetes, cancer or HIV — blood tests or other procedures may be necessary.

To diagnose Candida esophagitis, your doctor will examine your esophagus with an endoscope, a flexible instrument that is inserted into your throat and allows your doctor look at the area directly. During this examination, called endoscopy, your doctor will take a sample of tissue (either a biopsy or a "brushing") from your esophagus to be examined in a laboratory.

To diagnose deep candidiasis, your doctor will draw a sample of blood to be checked in a laboratory for the growth of Candida fungi or other infectious agents.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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