Fungi (plural of fungus) exist everywhere- in water, in the air around you, in the soil beneath your feet and in the plants and their products that you eat. Just like all microbes, fungi can be both good and bad.
Helpful fungi can be utilized to make foods, antibiotics, citric acid, human hormones etc.
But there exist harmful bacteria that can damage your body. Your immune system is usually capable enough to fight off these detrimental fungi. But sometimes it may be in a weakened state, or if a large amount of fungi enters your system and overpower your immune system. This is when you get a fungal infection.
Who is prone to Fungal Infections?
Fungal infections can happen to anyone. But certain conditions make you more vulnerable-
- A weak immunity in children, the elderly and people with illnesses that lower your defences such as diabetes, HIV, cancer etc
- You may have a genetic code that makes you predisposed towards fungal infection
- If your line of work requires you to deal with people who have contracted fungal infections
- People who sweat buckets become magnets for harmful fungi
- Obesity creates folds of fat which are an ideal breeding ground for fungi
A Guide To Common Fungal Infections
Now let’s discuss some of the common types of fungal infection:
It is a very prevalent infection caused by fungus and it affects the foot. If you wear shoes that offer very little air circulation and socks in a warm and wet climate, then you may come down with it because fungi thrive in these conditions and multiply rapidly.
Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot
- Blisters, usually at the base of the toes
- The skin may start to split and crack
- You may experience itching and stinging at the affected zone
Treatment of Athlete’s Foot
Medicines will depend on the type of fungus that has caused the Athlete’s Foot. You will also be recommended OTC topical ointments. Moreover, avoid shoes like sneakers or jogging shoes in summer.
Vaginal Yeast Infection
This is a very common infection in women and is triggered by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida. This messes up with the natural balance of good bacteria and yeast in the vagina and could be a result of stress, ingestion of antibiotics or a hormonal imbalance.
Symptoms of Vaginal Yeast Infection
- Itching, redness, a burning sensation and swelling in the vagina
- Unnatural vaginal discharge that is grey and clumpy
- Pain when you urinate or during sexual intercourse
Treatment of Vaginal Yeast Infection
Usually, treatment of milder cases of yeast infection will comprise tablets and topical creams. But if it is caused by more complex reasons like STD or hormonal imbalance, you will be given medicines to target that. Wear comfortable cotton clothes and be rigorous about maintaining vaginal hygiene.
Ringworms are very easy to spot. A unique, red circular patch that is slightly raised will give it away. The infection may progress and create more circles. Ringworm is extremely contagious and you may transmit it to someone by a mere skin-to-skin touch. If someone in your home has contracted it, make sure you don’t share towels or clothes with him/her.
Symptoms of Ringworm
- A red bump on your skin
- The region might flake
- The bump may itch continuously
Treatment of Ringworm
Based on the severity of the fungal infection, you will be recommended OTC or prescription medicated ointments or tablets. Shower and keep your skin clean at all times. And if you are using a public washroom in a gym or office, make sure you always wear shoes or sandals.
This is a widespread and painful fungal infection that shows up in moist warm parts of the body such as the buttocks, inner thighs or the groin. And you are most likely to contract this infection in summers or the monsoon season.
Symptoms of Jock Itch
- A red region of soreness that is circular in shape that has developed around your genital region
- The skin might chafe and feel irritated
- You may even notice that the skin has started to flake
Treatment of Jock Itch
Like all other fungal infections, jock itch too can be cured with antifungal tablets or ointments or both (depending on the extent of the infection). Moreover, you will have to constantly wash and clean the region and pat it completely dry.
To complement your treatment, you can try out a few home remedies for fungal infections. And complete your course of medicine even if the symptoms disappear. Don’t forget to observe cleanliness and hygiene to prevent a recurrence of the infection.