Dr. Mercy Paul Andrews, bust some facts on fungal infection with regards to its types, treatment, symptoms & risk factors
Published: Feb 22, 2021 12:35:54 PM IST
Updated: Feb 24, 2021 04:42:17 PM IST
What is fungal infection?
Fungal infection, also known as a mycosis, refers to the invasion of a host's tissue by specific types of fungi. Mycoses often start in the lungs following inhalation of fungal spores or on the skin due to localized colonization.
Types of Fungal Infections:
Superficial fungal infections
These affect the outer layers of the skin, the nails and hair. The main groups of fungi causing superficial fungal infections are:
Yeasts: Candida, including non-albicans candida species, Malassezia, Piedra
Subcutaneous fungal infections
These involve the deeper layers of the skin (the dermis, subcutaneous tissue and even bone). The causative organisms live in the soil on rotting vegetation. They can get pricked into the skin as a result of an injury but usually stay localised at the site of implantation. Deeper skin infections include:
Systemic fungal infections
Systemic mycoses may result from breathing in the spores of fungi, which live in the soil or rotting vegetation, or present as an opportunistic disease in immunocompromised individuals.
Inhaled fungal infection
Although uncommon, some may infect healthy individuals. The result is most often a mild infection and long-lasting resistance to further attack, but occasionally these infections are more severe and chronic (especially in the immune suppressed). The organisms causing systemic fungal infections include:
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What are the symptoms of fungal infection?
Symptoms of fungal infections differ depending on the type and severity of the infection, the area of the body affected, and individual factors.
Symptoms of athlete’s foot include:
Itching of the feet
Scaling and flaking of the skin of the feet
Symptoms of jock itch most often occur in men and include:
Itching of the groin area
Red, scaly rash in the groin area
Symptoms of ringworm include:
Red, itchy area on the scalp, often in the shape of a ring
Hair loss in the affected area
Symptoms of fungal infections that affect the mouth (oral thrush) include:
Lesions or sores that are raised, are yellow-white in color, and appear in patches in the mouth or throat and/or on the tongue
Sore, bleeding gums
Patches or lesions that become sore, raw and painful, making it difficult to eat or swallow
Symptoms of fungal infections that affect the vagina (vaginal thrush) include:
Thick, white vaginal discharge that has a texture similar to cottage cheese
Burning with urination
Symptoms of fungal infections that affect the digestive tract (fungal gastroenteritis) include:
Difficulty swallowing (esophagus)
How are fungal infections treated?
Treatment of fungal infections begins with seeking regular medical care. Regular medical care allows your health care professional to assess risks of developing fungal infections and promptly order diagnostic testing for fungal infections and underlying conditions as needed. These measures greatly increase the chances of diagnosing and treating underlying causes of fungal infections in their earliest stages.
Fungal infection treatment includes:
Antiseptic mouth washes for oral thrush
Diagnosing and treating any underlying diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and diabetes. Treating the high blood sugar levels of diabetes may resolve a current infection and is critical to minimizing the risk of developing recurrent fungal infections.
Eating yogurt or taking acidophilus supplements, which can help to correct the abnormal balance of microorganisms in the mouth and digestive tract
Medications, including prescription topical or oral antifungal medications such as fluconazole
What are the risk factors for fungal infections?
A number of factors increase the risk of developing fungal infections. These factors include:
Being very young or very old
Douching or using feminine deodorants or scented tampons
Exposures to contaminated surfaces especially shower facilities, swimming pools, hot tubs/spas.
Having a weakened immune system due to such conditions as HIV/AIDS, or taking steroid medications or chemotherapy
Organ transplant recipient
Poor personal hygiene
Taking strong antibiotics, especially for long periods of time
Wearing tight-fitting underwear, thongs, jeans, or other pants if you are a female
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