Fungi – they’re omnipresent
Fungi are found in copious amounts across the world and thrive on air, water, and soil. There are about more than 3.5 million species in the Fungi Kingdom out of which 300 kinds of fungi are known to cause diseases in humans till date. Like with bacteria, fungi are common in the body and they can be both beneficial and harmful depending on the species and their balance in the body.
What is a fungal infection?
A fungal infection is said to have occurred when there is some area in the body where there is fungal invasion or overgrowth and the immune system isn’t able to handle it. People experience reddish and irritated skin, rashes, itching, peeling or skin cracks as one of the first symptoms of a fungal infection. Read on to learn about the common causes of fungal infections, their types, symptoms and treatment options.
Common causes of fungal infections
There are many different causes for fungal infections depending on their type. The most common causes are the following:
- Excessive sweating
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Sharing mats and towels during workouts
- Unclean inner clothes, socks, and shoes
- Damp clothes that haven’t been properly washed and dried
- Bacterial imbalance
- Poor eating habits
- Other underlying medical conditions
Types of fungal infections
Some fungal infections present with simple symptoms while others may be misdiagnosed as other illnesses. It is important to consult a doctor to get your symptoms checked out to arrive at the right diagnosis. Consult online with dermatologists at mfine in case you experience a rash or some abnormality in the skin. Earlier its caught, the more treatable it is!
Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection and affects the feet as the name suggests. Typical in people who are involved in sports, exercising, and activities that involve wearing close-toed footwear and that could lead to profuse sweating, it is prevalent in warm weather. The fungus thrives in moist conditions and tends to grow rapidly in summer. Some of the common symptoms of the athlete’s foot are blisters, redness and peeling of the skin, scaling, itching and stinging sensation in the affected areas.
Itching in the groin
This is primarily due to excessive sweating. It is also popularly known as the jock itch and is prevalent in teenage boys and men. These fungi thrive in moist areas, live on the skin and nails and are usually harmless. However, in case of excessive moisture and warmth, they tend to develop rapidly thus causing an infection in the groin, inner thighs, and the buttock regions.
It is milder than most other infections and can be treated completely. However, people tend to ignore it and let it fester before getting treatment either because they think it isn’t potentially problematic or because they are shy to address the issue. The most common symptoms of this infection are itching, burning, redness, rashes, flaky skin, cracking and peeling of skin. If left untreated, it may even spread to the abdomen. Personal hygiene, anti-fungal creams and loose clothing are usually recommended to tackle it.
Itching beneath the breasts
Fungal infections are very common in areas of the skin where there are multiple folds or where there is a possibility of skin rubbing on skin. The area beneath the breasts is one such area where either due to excessive sweating or friction between the layers of the skin (coupled with moisture and heat), rashes develop. Such rashes are associated with a condition called intertrigo. Common symptoms of intertrigo include a reddish rash, constant itching, skin changes that could be accompanied by a foul smell and pain.
It could be due to fungus, bacteria or yeast and in some cases, there could be painful sores accompanied with discharge. It is important to get it looked at by a dermatologist to identify the right course of treatment.
These are very common in women and these microorganisms(yeast) are also found in the vaginal region. When there is a rapid growth of these fungi(yeast), there is an imbalance in the vaginal tract. These infections could be due to various factors such as hormonal imbalances, poor eating, stress, and antibiotics in some cases. Typical symptoms include itching and swelling, redness, soreness – all of these symptoms occur in the peripheral region of the vagina. Other symptoms include foul-smelling discharge and a burning sensation during intercourse and urination.
Treatment could include vaginal suppositories, washes, topical creams, and oral medicines to restore the vaginal flora balance and treat the infection.
This fungal infection is easily noticeable. It is usually a flaky or scaly patch that is reddish and circular in appearance. It appears a bit elevated from the skin and could spread to the surrounding areas as well if left untreated. It is caused by a fungus that lives on the dead skin and the infection in the groin region and athlete’s foot are caused by it. When the infection happens in other areas of the skin, it is called ringworm. It is extremely contagious and can spread from skin to skin contact, contact with pets, from infected soil, infected objects, and even dirt.
Personal hygiene, wearing clean clothes, washing the infected area with soap and water (however, the skin should be kept dry post cleaning), and applying the prescribed ointments are the key to ensuring that they are treated completely. Ringworms can affect the scalp too and, in some cases, the infection could be severe, thus necessitating a complete course of treatment.
Other common fungal infections
Apart from the above infections, the following fungal skin infections are common.
- Rashes that are a result of fungal infections
- Infections of the nail
- Infection of the beard and face (Tinea barbae and Tinea faciei)
Nail infections could happen either in the toenail or the fingernail and they cause cracks, brittleness, and discoloration in the nails. These fungal infections could be chronic in nature and it could take up to 4 months for a completely uninfected nail to replace the infected one. Infection of the face often occurs in kids and women and is typically found on the face, upper lip and chin. For men it occurs in the beard region. Facial fungal infections could be confused with other skin infections and are very likely to be misdiagnosed. This is why it is important to consult with a dermatologist.
A variety of microorganisms live in the body and our body handles infections on its own in most cases. When there is an overgrowth of flora resulting in fungal infection, it is important to get it looked at by a dermatologist to avoid misdiagnosis and get the right treatment. At mfine, you can consult online with top dermatologists from the comfort of your home. Why delay treatment and shy away when you can consult from the privacy of your room? Download our app now!