Infection of the mucous membrane of the mouth, throat or vagina caused by the fungus Candida albicans. The fungus is normally present on the skin and in the mucous membrane and mouth of most people without causing infection. If the host’s resistance is lowered by lengthy illness or the use of certain medicines (including cytostatics) the fungus can multiply and cause infection. If antibiotics are being used normal bacteria are killed and the fungus has the opportunity to grow; oral sprue occurs regularly in patients with blood disorders, tumours or AIDS. Characteristic of the infection are small white patches on the oral mucous membrane which leave a small wound if scratched. The disorder is very painful. Sometimes infection spreads to the oesophagus; in rare cases the small intestine is affected. It can also affect the vagina (candidiasis). It is important in treatment that the mouth is kept clean; the patient should stop taking medicines and antibiotics to as large an extent as possible. Treatment with fungicides is usually effective after a few days.