Fungi are found ubiquitously; they live in the air, in the soil, on plants and in water also. These fungi are both infectious as well as non-infectious to living organisms. Antifungal drugs are those drugs that are used to selectively eliminate fungal pathogens. The anti fungal drugs ensure that the fungal pathogen causes a minimal harm to the organism’s body and system.
Fungi belong to the class of parasitic plants that includes yeast, molds, and mildew, etc. when the fungus enter the body through pathways such as skin or air breath inside; it may cause the infection as it starts to multiply within the tissues and the organs of the body. Fungi can cause various infections of the body including the inflammation of the digestive tract, genitals and other body organs and tissues.
You can find mushrooms everywhere, air, soil, plants, and water and in fact on the human body also. Most of the fungi reproduce by spore formation. Hence, the spores of fungi can be found in the air. These spores reach the lungs when the infected air is inhaled, and the spores travel by the breathed in the air. Although all the spores that enter the body either through the skin or the nasal passage are not able to produce any infection because our body’s immune system starts working in the direction of doing the best to eliminate the pathogens. Our innate immunity fights against the fungal infections because of the presence of these elements:
- pH levels of the skin and our body
- Cilia present in the respiratory tract of our body
- Different types of helpful fatty acids of the skin
Risk factors for getting fungal infections:
Fungal infections mostly hit the below-given people such as:
- Those people who are on the course of antibiotic
- Pregnant women
- People with uncontrolled diabetes
- Extremely overweight people
- People with weakened immune system due to HIV or aids
- People who come in direct contact with the infected person
- people who touch the contaminated objects
What are the common fungal infections and their causative agents?
The fungal infections are classified into the following categories and various diseases caused by fungi falls into these categories:
- Superficial: infection the outermost layer of the skin and hair
- Cutaneous: infection of the epidermis of skin as well as in the nails
- Subcutaneous: infection in the subcutaneous layer of the muscles and fascia
- Systemic: the infection of lungs and different organs
- Opportunistic: infections in the patients with weakened immune system
The most common fungal infections are:
- Tinea corporis caused by Microsporum sp. and Trichophyton sp.- it is marked by ringworm lesions on arm, trunk or legs
- Candidiases caused by Candida albicans is characterized by the lush growth found in various areas of the body.
- Tinea pedis”athlete’s foot” is caused by Microsporum sp. and Trichophyton sp. it is indicated by ringworm of foot
- Aspergillosis caused by Aspergillus fumigatus and showed as fungus ball in the tissues.
Diagnosis of fungal infections:
The characteristic appearances of the various infected regions are one of the biggest hints of having a fungal infection. For diagnosis purpose doctors check on the particular part of the body like skin, hair, and nails, etc.
For the diagnosis purpose a few tests are done such as:
- Wood’s UV lamp test to determine the presence of fungus
- Potassium hydroxide preparation test, to detect the fungi
- Culture and sensitivity test
- Blood sample testing is also done to determine the presence of systemic fungus
- Urine test also helps fuel
- The doctor may also recommend testing sputum, bone marrow, or tissues of the infected area to be taken for testing
- Many other tests are also performed to identify the presence of fungi or to specify the presence of a particular fungus, like:
- Microscopic tests
- X-rays scanning
- Blood antibody test
- DNA detection test
- Agar Culture test etc.
Antifungal drugs and treatment:
Various antifungal medications are successfully used for the treatment of infections caused by fungi. Here is the few common prescription and over the counter antifungal drugs used to remove fungal infections:
- Clomitrazole that comes in the tablet and lotion form
- Amphotericin B is given by intravenous injection
- Nystatin, a drug very similar in composition to amphotericin b
- A standard topical antifungal drug known as ketoconazole is also available in oral dosage forms to treat systemic fungal infections in the body
- Miconazole, a commonly used topical as well as intravenous injection drug
- Flucytosine, is a synthetic drug used for the treatment of systemic fungal infections
- Fluconazole is also a fungicide that is popularly recommended by doctors