What Is Fungal Infection?

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Dr Turaj Yazdi / article / What Is Fungal Infection?
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What Is Fungal Infection?

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Fungal infection which is known as mycosis, can appear on several parts of the body and anyone can get affected by this infection.  Fungi are microorganisms characterized by a substance in their cell walls called chitin. Some fungi, like many types of mushrooms, are edible. Other types of fungi, like aspergillus, can be extremely dangerous and lead to life-threatening diseases.

There are different types of fungi that can lead to fungal infections. Sometimes, fungi that aren’t typically found on or inside your body can cause an infection. In other cases, fungi that are normally present on or inside your body can multiply out of control and cause an infection.

Another thing about fungal infection is that it can spread from one person to another and also, in some cases, it can be transferred from infected animals or contaminated soil or surfaces.

Common types of fungal infection

Most fungi are harmless to humans. However, some of them are able to cause diseases under specific conditions. Fungi reproduce by releasing spores that can be picked up by direct contact or even inhaled. That’s why fungal infections usually affect your skin, nails, or lungs. Fungi can also penetrate your skin, affect your organs, and cause a body-wide systemic infection.

These are some common types of fungal infection:

Athlete’s foot

Athlete’s foot, also known as tinea pedis, is a type of fungal infection that affects skin on your feet, hands and nails. It is caused by dermatophytes. Dermatophytes are a grop pf fungi that can thrive in the warm and humid areas between the toes.

This infection is common among athletes and it’s contagious. You can also catch it from contaminated surfaces, like a public shower or locker room floors.


You may feel these sensations between the toes or on other parts of your foot:

  • Itching
  • Stinging
  • burning.
  • Your skin might also crack, peel, or blister.


It can be recognized  by looking at the symptoms on your skin. If the doctor isn’t sure, a small area of the skin can be scraped off and tested for the fungus.


Several topical over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal medications can be used to treat athlete’s foot.

Jock itch

Jock itch, also known as tinea cruris, is a fungal infection that can affect the skin on the groin area, the inner tights and buttocks. It’s also caused by dermatophytes. It mostly affects men rather than women but it can be developed in women too.


Common jock itch symptoms are:

  • Itchiness
  • redness
  • a burning feeling
  • changes in skin color
  • flaking or cracking skin
  • a rash that gets worse when you exercise

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It can be recognized by looking at the affected skin. To help rule out other conditions, like psoriasis, they may take a scraping of skin cells and have them examined.


It can usually be treated at home by keeping the area clean and dry and applying OTC antifungal cream, powder, or spray. If the symptoms remain after two weeks of home care, visit your doctor.


It’s a fungal infection that can affect your skin and scalp and it’s also caused by dermatophytes. They particularly grow in damp and humid parts of the body.


It usually starts as a reddish, itchy, scaly rash. Over time, patches of ringworm can spread and form red rings.         

Other signs are:

  • bald patches on the scalp
  • patches that look like rings with a redder outside edge
  • patches that get blisters and start to ooze
  • thick, discolored, or cracked nails (if the infection is in the nails)


The fungus glows under a black light, so your doctor can tell if you have it by shining the black light over the affected area.


Ringworm is also successfully curable with OTC antifungal creams, sprays, gels, or ointments.

Yeast infection

Yeast infection is also known as candida albicans. It’s a type of fungus which can infect the skin, mouth, gastrointestinal, urinary tract or genitals.

It’s normal for small amounts of candida albicans to be present on your skin and in your body. However, when these fungi multiply too much, they can cause an infection known as a yeast infection.


If the infection is in your throat or mouth, it’s called “oral thrush”. Thrush causes white patches to form in your mouth and throat. People who undergo prolonged antibiotic therapy often develop this type of infection.

Vaginal yeast infections are common in women. The symptoms are:

  • Itchiness
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Clumpy discharge


The doctor will perform a pelvic exam to diagnose a vaginal yeast infection. If they aren’t sure your symptoms are being caused by a yeast infection, they might swab the area and order a lab test.

For oral thrush, the doctor can use a throat swab to rub the affected areas. Throat swabs look like a cotton bud. Your doctor can send the swab to a lab, where technicians will culture it to learn what types of fungi or other microbes are present.


The options depend on the types of this infection.

Thrush can be treated with oral antifungal medications. These can come in the form of lozenges, pills, or mouthwash

If a vaginal yeast infection is caught early enough, you might be able to treat it with OTC products. Otherwise, some antifungal medications can be prescribed that come as a cream, pill, or vaginal suppository.

Probiotics can also be recommended, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus. Probiotic supplements provide good bacteria that might help restore your body’s microbial balance.

Fungal infections might be uncomfortable and painful. Sometimes, they can take weeks or months to effectively treat. If any symptoms of fungal infection appears, visit your doctor immediately. They can diagnose the type of infection and recommend an appropriate antifungal medication. So it’s important to take action as fast as you can in order to recover sooner. In some cases, your doctor may also recommend changes to your diet or other daily habits to help treat or prevent future fungal infections.



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