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If you or any of your loved one is suffering from a fungal infection, this article is for you. Though this suffering is quite common, it is important to treat it timely else it’ll degrade the quality of life. Whether it is with your hair, skin, nails, or any mucous membranes, fungi can make your immune system weak. Also, we’ll check out some of the best and most recommended antifungal treatments.

What do you mean by fungal infections?

Fungal infection is also known as mycosis. It is a medical health condition where the patient is infected by yeast or mold aka fungus. Such infection is common to occur with the skin, nails, and hair. However, it can also be diagnosed in the mouth, urinary tract, lungs, throat, as well as any other body part. On one hand, where a lot of fungal infections prevail, we have several types of antifungal drugs too.

About Fungi

Understanding fungi will help you understand better about fungal infections. Fungi are not any plant or animal but some organisms that can move around, spread & grow. Some fungi exist naturally in our bodies and may outgrow in some circumstances. They are free livings that can spread via air and environment. Surprisingly, the known and discovered types of fungi are too few while scientists believe there are millions of fungi types. For instance, the popular fungi are yeast and moulds.

Types of Fungal Infections (Mycosis)

We can broadly categorize Mycosis into three types:

1.    Superficial Fungal Infections: Unveiling the Common Culprits

Superficial fungal infections can be bothersome and uncomfortable, affecting various parts of your body such as the nails, skin, and mucous membranes. Understanding the different types and symptoms of these infections is crucial in seeking timely and effective treatment. In this article, we will delve into common superficial fungal infections, subcutaneous fungal infections, and deep fungal infections.

Ringworm (Dermatophytosis)

Ringworm, caused by dermatophytes, is a group of fungi that thrive on skin, hair, and nail cells. This infection can manifest in various areas of the body, leading to distinct conditions such as:

  • Tinea Pedis (Athlete’s Foot): An infection that affects the feet, causing itching, redness, and cracking of the skin.
  • Tinea Cruris (Jock Itch): Occurs in the groin and inner thighs, causing a rash with red, itchy, and scaly patches.
  • Tinea Capitis: Affects the scalp, leading to hair loss and scaling of the skin.
  • Tinea manuum: Appears on the hands, causing dry, scaly skin.
  • Tinea Barbae: Affects facial hair and the surrounding skin, leading to inflammation and itching.
  • Tinea Corporis: Can occur on various parts of the body, causing ring-shaped rashes with red borders and healthy skin in the centre.
  • Onychomycosis
  • Candidiasis
  • Tinea Versicolor/Pityriasis Versicolor

2.    Subcutaneous Fungal Infections: Going Beneath the Surface

Subcutaneous fungal infections occur when fungi enter cuts or wounds, usually through contact with plants or soil. Common examples include:

  • Sporotrichosis (Rose Gardener’s Disease)
  • Chromoblastomycosis
  • Eumycetoma

3.    Deep Fungal Infections: Unraveling the Internal Threats

Deep fungal infections are more serious and can occur in areas other than the skin, such as the lungs, blood, urinary tract, or brain. These infections can be particularly dangerous for individuals with weakened immune systems. Some of the significant deep fungal infections include:

  • Histoplasmosis
  • Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever)
  • Blastomycosis
  • Aspergillosis
  • Candidal Urinary Tract Infection
  • Invasive Candidiasis
  • Pneumocystis Pneumonia (PJP)
  • Mucormycosis

Understanding the different types of superficial, subcutaneous, and deep fungal infections is essential in recognizing their symptoms and seeking appropriate medical attention. If you suspect any fungal infection, consult a healthcare professional for accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment.

Symptoms of Fungal Infections

The symptoms of fungal infections are based on their types. Let us discuss this in brief.

Symptoms of superficial and subcutaneous fungal infections

  • Rashes
  • Discolouration
  • Painless lumps on the skin
  • Loss of taste
  • Itchiness

Symptoms of lungs infected by fungi

  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Blood comes with a cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Night sweats

Fungal infection in your eyes

  • Discharge
  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Tearing

Fungal infection nearby the brain

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Sensitivity to light

Intestinal tract fungal infection

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

Sinuses affected by fungi

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Nasal congestion
  • Swelling on any one side of the face
  • Face pain

How do you know if it is a fungal infection?

This is an interesting stuff. So, how would you recognize a fungal infection? It’s simple. Patients having fungal infections often have rashes, swelling, bumps, or redness at the affected part of the body. In most cases, it starts with a tiny bump and then grows into a rash-like condition. They’re more discovered with the skin, urinary tract, hair, nails, etc.

In addition, their appearance might vary according to the body part they affect. For instance, nails may turn yellow, whiter, or brownish after infection whereas mouth/throat get white patches or coating.

Is fungal infection a serious condition?

You may take the fungal infection seriously if it has crossed limits and you didn’t pay attention. Otherwise, it can be cured commonly with ointments and oral medicine combination. In case you are diagnosed with fungi infection with the skin or nails, it is common. But if your infection interfered with your immune system then you’re exposed to the risk of serious illnesses. Don’t waste time and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

What are the causes of fungal infection?

Commonly, fungal infections occur because of yeast, moulds, and similar types of fungi. Interestingly, most fungi are not harmful and don’t infect people. Only a few of them are bad for health. Some types of fungi are not concerned with causing infections while others target the immune system and make it weak. With this said, let’s see the common types of infecting fungi:

  • Environmental fungi (those living in water and soil)
  • Candida (active yeast in the body, non-harming)
  • Dermatophytes (fungi residing on the outer layer of the skin)

Is fungal infection contagious?

Certain types of fungal infections are contagious like ringworm. They can spread when the infected person comes in contact with someone. Thus, fungal infections are more likely to spread from person to person. On the contrary, if you’ve got some skin infection then touching the cleaner body part after touching the infected part can spread infection too. However, deep infections are mostly non-contagious.

Can you cure a fungal infection?

Here are some common ways a fungal infection spread:

  • A breakthrough in your skin or injuries
  • Damp public places
  • After using antibiotics (such drugs allow fungi to outgrow)
  • By breathing fungus into the environment
  • Fungi infection also spreads by coming in touch with an infected human or animal

Antifungal Medicines

Other Fungal Infection Treatments

Besides oral medicines and ointments, here are some alternatives you might be prescribed with:

  • Mouthwash
  • IV medicines
  • Lotion
  • Powder
  • Shampoo
  • Eye drops

Tips for reducing the risk of a fungal infection

  • Shower after getting dirty or sweaty. Ensure that areas of your skin don’t stay damp.
  • Be extra careful while using public spaces.
  • Wear clean, dry, cotton underwear to maintain proper hygiene.
  • Take care of your teeth and mouth through regular dental hygiene practices.
  • Clean and use contact lenses as directed by your eye care provider to prevent eye infections.
  • Keep your nails short and clean to avoid fungal growth.
  • Only take antibiotics as prescribed; prolonged use may lead to yeast overgrowth and infections.
  • Refrain from sharing sporting equipment, towels, or personal items to minimize the risk of transmission.
  • When working with soil, wear protective clothing like gloves, boots, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts.
  • In areas with harmful soil fungus, wear an N95 mask to avoid breathing in harmful spores during dust storms. It’s also advisable to stay indoors with windows closed during such storms.

What to expect after getting diagnosed with a fungal infection?

The impact of a fungal infection varies depending on the presence of underlying conditions and the location of the infection on your body. Here’s what you can anticipate:

  • Fungal infections of the hair, skin, and nails are generally not severe but may require time to fully resolve with appropriate treatment.
  • While these infections are not life-threatening, it’s essential to follow the treatment plan diligently for complete recovery.
  • On the other hand, deep fungal infections, affecting organs like the lungs, can pose a significant risk, particularly for individuals with a weakened immune system.
  • Such deep-seated infections can be life-threatening and demand prompt and specialized medical attention to manage the condition effectively.

Two Cents

If you experience symptoms of a fungal infection, particularly in your lungs or internal organs, it’s crucial to reach out to your healthcare provider promptly. Additionally, if you have been undergoing treatment for fungal infection and notice no improvement, make sure to schedule a follow-up with your healthcare provider for further evaluation and appropriate adjustments to your treatment plan. Your health and well-being are of utmost importance, and timely communication with your healthcare professional can ensure effective management of fungal infections.