Fungi live in air, water, soil, plants and even human body. There are both helpful and harmful varieties of fungi and naturally the harmful fungi cause problems in the human body. Few fungi can reproduce through spores in the air. Humans may inhale these spores which could lead to fungal infection of the lungs or skin infection when the spores touch the skin. Also a weakened immunity system of a person could make them prone to catch fungal infections easily.
The three main types of fungi are molds, mushrooms and yeasts. There are millions of species of fungi. Only a few species of fungi are harmful to us.
Common symptoms of fungal infection include red itchy spots, with dry, peeling skin. Although depending upon the specific type of infection the symptoms may vary.
The following are the common types of fungal infections
1. Athlete’s foot – Tinea pedis or Athlete’s foot affects the foot. It is named so because it’s normally associated with athletes and sports. The fungus thrives in warm, moist environments like the shoes, sports equipment etc. However, it is not limited to just athletes and can affect anyone, especially those in warmer climates. Symptoms include red infected area or blisters on or between the toes.
2. Yeast infection – Also called Candida, the infection is most common in the armpits and groin areas of a person. In women this normally leads to vaginal infection as Candida disrupts the balance of bacteria and yeast in the vagina. Symptoms include itching, swelling of vagina, pain during urination or intercourse. Immediate medical care is required to avoid severity.
3. Jock Itch – Tinea cruris or Jock Itch affects the groin areas of the infected person. It is more common in warm, humid climates. It is slightly contagious and can infect others through direct contact. Symptoms include itchy rash and chafing of the infected area. It is seen in the groin, buttocks or thigh areas.
4. Ringworm – This is characterized by a red itchy patch of skin that spreads out into several rings. Ringworm is highly contagious and can spread through contact or even objects used by the infected person like clothes, brushes etc.
A dermatologist can confirm the presence of fungal infection based on inspection and testing the skin sample in a lab. Depending on the severity, a treatment plan is devised.
Most fungal infections can usually be treated with over-the-counter medications. Topical application of antifungal creams is suggested. In severe cases oral medications may be prescribed. Other precautions like keeping the infected area clean and dry, regular change of clothes to avoid the infection from spreading help regulate the infection.