What is a Fungal Infection?
Fungal infection, also known as 'mycosis', is a disease that is caused by microscopic fungi. In short, it might be defined as the inflammatory condition that persists due to fungus.
What are the causes of fungal skin infections and other fungal infections?
There are various types of fungus that live on plants, in water, air, soil and even in the human body. They usually reproduce through the tiny spores present in the air, and as we inhale the air, the spores enter into our body causing a fungal infection in the lungs.
Similarly, some fungi in the environment come into contact with our skin that leads to skin infections. This happens when a person takes high antibiotics1 frequently; or when the immune system gets so weak that fungi can easily attack a person.
Skin infections are largely caused by yeasts named as (Candida or Malassezia furfur), or dermatophytes called Trichophyton, Microsporum, and Epidermophyton.
Other types of fungal infections include;
- Tinea Corporis (Ringworm)
This is so named because of its shape that is round like ringworm. This fungal infection is observed on dead tissues like hair, nails, and skin. The fungi, Tinea Corporis that causes this infection can live on household items like towels, bedsheets, and woolen or cotton clothes. Ringworm has many names depending on its position on the body. For instance, ringworm on foot is called ‘athlete’s foot.’
Furthermore, as its name suggests, it seems like it is caused by a worm, but it is actually a fungal infection caused by fungi.
- Jock Itch
Jock itch is another common fungal skin infection which is scientifically known as Tinea Cruris. These fungi are likely to occur in the warm, humid weather in the moist and fleshy areas of the body like buttocks and inner thighs.
Jock itch is contagious. It spreads from the direct contact with the person having this kind of infection or anything which carry these fungi.
- Yeast infection or Candida
A yeast infection takes place in a woman’s vagina when she does not maintain her diet, takes too many antibiotics and also due to the disturbances in the hormonal system. Besides vagina, it is likely to occur in the throat, mouth and the bloodstream. Candida as a matter of fact, if worsens may result in toe-nail fungal infection. Also, the growth of yeast infection affects the normal balance of yeast and bacteria in the vagina.
- Athlete’s foot
This fungal infection is so named because it is commonly associated with the sportsmen and particularly athletes. This fungus grows in warm and moist places such as in swimming pools, socks, sports shoes, and other sport’s equipment.
- Fungal Skin Infection
Those who have a weak immune system their skin easily catches fungi known as Tinea Versicolor.
Aspergillosis is another fungal infection of the lungs that results from the inhalation of the reproductive spores of fungi in the environment. It attacks those people easily who are suffering from lung problems2 and are a little weak.
Signs and symptoms of Fungal Infection
Fungal infection is diagnosed when its signs and symptoms start becoming obvious. Like every disease, fungal infection symptoms are multiple and include the following:
- Tinea Corporis (ringworm) is red in color and often causes itching. In several cases, Tinea Corporis turns into athlete’s foot and jock itch.
- Jock itch can be easily identified as red rashes which cause irritation and itching in areas like buttocks and inner thighs.
- A yeast infection results in swelling and itching in the anal area causes pain in the urination and intercourse and unusual vaginal discharge which is often watery.
- Athlete’s foot involves itching, burning, cracks and scaly skin and even blisters on the lower part of the foot under fingers.
- Fungal skin infection or Tinea Versicolor stimulates dry, scaly skin and the affected area mostly gets lighter or darker than the usual skin color.
- Aspergillosis includes lung infection, allergic reactions as well as infections in other body organs.
- The symptoms of blastomycosis include a flu-like condition. It causes flu because it results from the breathing in of the fungal spores from the air.
It is extremely vital to have an awareness of all these symptoms so that if you are at risk of fungal infection, you can easily detect which type it is. Moreover, those who are suffering from cancer or diabetes, they must be extra careful; because the treatments of these major diseases make a person more prone to fungal infections.
Treatment of Fungal Infections
Fungal infections are treated on the basis of the type of infection a person has. And the treatment also depends upon the severity of the condition.
However, below are stated some of the general treatments of fungal infections;
For athlete’s foot, doctors commonly give anti-fungal ointments and prescribe some medicines. Along with the medicines, it is advised to keep the foot clean and the open air. It is good to wear open-sandals and slippers in the daily routine.
The same goes for a yeast infection which is also treated through tablets and creams. Hygiene must be very proper and be taken care of. Furthermore, washing underwear in very hot water is also necessary.
Above all, to keep yourself clean is really important. Taking a shower daily and giving sunlight to your clothes helps avoid many infections.
Fungal infections are very common these days since people are careless in maintaining cleanliness around them. Many people do not prefer to take bath daily which is why they catch bacterial and fungal infections.
On the other hand, people who do self-medication suffer the most. It is because they do not realize the seriousness of the symptoms and keep on treating them through antibiotics. This needs to stop! They should be made aware that fungal infections that get worse with time are difficult to treat or sometimes cannot be cured.
- Kids Health - How Antibiotics Work
- WebMD - Lung Diseases Overview