Candida albicans yeast is usually quite benign, but it can change into an infective form when the environmental conditions are right for an infection.
Candida switches from the non-threatening round form to the invasive filamentary form when it encounters specific environmental conditions, such as a changing hormone balance or acidosis, which is common among diabetics.
In a completely healthy individual, Candida will not become infectious, so a Candida infection is always a symptom of an underlying imbalance or a temporary failure of the immune system. See pubmedcentral.nih.gov (PDF document loads slowly), and toms fungi site.
During this infectious phase, the yeast cell has long threads (called hyphea and pseudohyphae) that contain special proteins that allow it to attach itself to human cells on the skin and mucous membranes, and toxins emitted by the yeast cell can then cause irritation and inflammation. (See ScienceDaily.com)
Invasive yeast can also stick to the surfaces of prosthetic devices and sex toys. And invasive Candida has been found on all sorts of hospital surfaces, including food, air-conditioning vents, and even the clothing of hospital staff.
If you would like to see a remarkable photograph of Candida albicans in its infectious stage taken by David Scharf through an electron microscope, click here.
In its infectious phase, Candida can cause a vaginal discharge, discomfort, itching, rashes, or worse. It is impossible to ignore the presence of this fungus when it’s on the warpath. Then, just as quickly, the yeast can turn back into its peaceful phase again, and your life goes back to normal.