Fungal Infections: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

22 Oct
2016
By Marie

Fungal infection is one of the infections which are caused by a fungus. The fungus tends to grow, multiply and invade the skin causing inflammation of the digestive tract, genitals and other organs of the body. Fungi can be easily found in any habitat such as sea water, soil, plants or animals and human skin.

Several different types of fungi like yeasts or dermatophyte are responsible for causing fungal skin infections.

Causes

Fungal infections can be contagious and spreads from one man to another. Human beings also have protection against fungi as our bodies have non disease causing bacteria which provides protection from these fungal infections. These bacteria do not give harmful fungi, space and nutrients and so keep them in check.

If somehow fungi try to settle onto the skin, then also our immune system fights them off. The high acidity level in the vagina also provides another layer of protection. In patients whose immune system are not able to fight fungal infection efficiently, they are basically prone to fungal skin infections, whereas prolonged use of antibiotics too destroys helpful bacteria which allows the fungi to colonize the skin and mucous. Women suffering from postmenopausal symptoms, their hormonal changes reduce the acidity of the vagina and make it much more vulnerable to vaginal yeast infections.

Types

  • Athlete’s foot- It is one of the common skin conditions which largely affects sole of the feet and the area in between toes. Athlete’s foot is a foot fungal infection. This is usually scaly, red, itchy and could be even weeping and oozy.
  • Jock itch– It is another common fungal infection of the groin and upper thighs. Tinea cruris is the medical name for jock itch. This infection is most common in men and boys, but women can suffer from the infection too.
  • Ringworm– Ringworm another fungal infection affects commonly skin and scalp area. It starts to appear as a reddish, scaly and itchy rash. With time it grows large and forms red ring.
  • Onychomycosis– This is the infection of the nail and nail bed. The infection starts first as a tiny light colored spots on the nails. When it spreads little deeper, then shape and color of the nail get changed and they become much thick and brittle.
  • Candidiasis Albicans– Candida albicans is a pretty common type of fungus. It specifically target areas like mouth, vagina, urinary tract and stomach.

Symptoms of Fungal Infections

The symptoms of fungal infections differ and they depend on the type and severity of the infection.

  • Symptoms of athlete’s foot include: itching, scaling and flaking of skin feet.
  • Symptoms of jock itch include: redness, itchiness and scaly rash in the groin area.
  • Symptoms of ringworm include: hair loss in the affected area, red and itchiness of the scalp.
  • Symptoms of fungal infection affecting mouth are: soreness, bleeding gums and difficulty to eat or swallow.
  • Symptoms when infection affects the vagina include: irritation, itching in the vagina and white vaginal discharge.
  • Symptoms of fungal infection affecting the digestive tract include: nausea, vomiting, difficulty swallowing and diarrhea.

Fungal Infections of Diagnosis 

Most of the fungal infections can be diagnosed by their appearance. Whereas, some diagnostic tools are also used for other types of fungal infections.

  • Scrapings– If the infection is caused in nails, then the doctor will take pieces of the affected nail to examine it under microscope. This will help to differentiate onychomycosis from several other problems that may thicken the nails.
  • Throat Swab– Those people who rely on prolonged antibiotic therapies, sometimes get oral thrush, a Candida infection, which causes white patches in the mouth and throat. A throat swab is rubbed across the white patches and then cultured in the laboratory to know about the presence of fungi or other microorganisms.
  • UV light– Black lamp or ultraviolet light is sometimes also used under which some forms of fungal infections try to appear fluorescent and others don’t.

Treatment

Fungal infection treatment includes a variety of anti fungal drugs. The medication is prescribed depending on the fact where the infection is located and its severity. For treating skin infections one may use best antifungal cream, drops or ointments.

  • Alternative therapy such as increasing the intake of natural anti fungal- garlic, vitamin C and essential fatty acids that may boost our immune system. Lowering intake of sugar may also work.
  • Probiotics also play some role in treating fungal infections. Probiotic such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, provides good bacteria that restores body’s balance and try to compete with fungi for colonization. Lactobacillus acidophilus can be easily found in fermented foods like yogurt, soy products and pickles.
  • Butenafine Hcl Cream is a best antifungal cream that treats several fungal skin infections like ringworm, athlete’s foot and jock itch. Other topical medications which could treat fungal infections are: Miconazole, Ketoconazole and Permethrin. Miconazole is a good foot fungus medication which, when applied once or twice a day definitely gives effective results.
  • Clotrimazole and Beclomethasone, the combination of this topical medication is also used for treating skin infections.
  • Some other antifungal drugs include: Fluconazole, Griseofulvin, Itraconazole and Terbinafine HCl.
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