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Common Fungal Infections: Causes and Treatments

by Dr Prem Community Writer
Vaginal-yeast-infections

Fungal infections can affect many different parts of the body. When fungus invades a certain area of the body and the immune system is unable to eliminate it, it can result in an infection. Different fungal infections have different causes and treatment options. Here, we’ll discuss the most common types of fungal infections and how to treat them.

What Causes Fungal Infections?

Fungi lives inside the human body and can be both helpful and harmful, depending on the circumstances. Fungi is considered a microbe. Fungi also lives outside the body in the air, soil, water, and plants. When the harmful type of fungi invades the body, it can be difficult to eliminate and sometimes may survive for an extended period of time, reinfecting patients. The good news is, fungal infections aren’t known to be extremely dangerous and when treated properly, can be handled quickly. Certain individuals are at greater risk for fungal infections. These include people with:

  • A weakened immune system
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Anyone taking antibiotics

Although these individuals are at greater risk for infection, it doesn’t mean healthy individuals are free from risk.

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s Foot

This type of fungal infection effects a person’s foot and is coined with the name since it commonly affects athletes and those playing sports or frequenting the gym. That’s because this type of infection is most commonly found on the bottoms of the feet and between the toes, where things are warm and wet. Athlete’s wearing socks and shoes are at greater risk, as the environment inside their equipment is the perfect breeding ground for fungal infection. It can also be easily spread when athlete’s and individuals using the gym walk around the locker room barefoot.

Athlete’s foot is most commonly associated with red, itchy blisters in the affected area. The layers of skin may appear soft and begin to flake and breakdown. Skin may also crack and peel. Most doctors will test a piece of this skin to determine whether or not it is, in fact, athlete’s foot. Once diagnosed, they may prescribe an anti-fungal ointment or cream. Oral medication is sometimes used in severe cases of athlete’s foot. During an outbreak, avoid spreading the infection by wearing sandals in public places. Open shoes will also offer proper air circulation and breathability, preventing the infection from multiplying or returning.

Jock Itch

Jock Itch

Another sports related condition, jock itch, also known as tinea cruris, thrives in the warm, moist areas of the groin, buttocks, and inner thighs. This condition is most common in humid or warm climates or during the spring and summer months, when people’s skin is warmer and they are creating more sweat in these areas of the body. This type of fungal infection is spread through direct contact. Due to the nature of where it’s located, it is only mildly contagious.

Jock itch presents itself as a red, circular rash that is often itchy and irritated. Other symptoms include chafing, burning, and cracking or peeling of the skin in the affected area. Generally, jock itch is identified simply by looking at it because of its distinct appearance. Similar to other fungal infections, topical ointments are the most common way to treat jock it. It’s important to properly clean the infected area and keep it as dry as possible. You can achieve this by wearing loose-fitting fabrics. During a breakout, it’s important to avoid sharing things like towels, robes, or other equipment. Avoid skin-to-skin contact with other individuals as well.

Yeast Infection

Vaginal-yeast-infectionsVaginal yeast infections are the most common type but can also prevent themselves in other parts of the body, such as the mouth and toenails. A yeast infection of the mouth is known as thrush and marked by white patches. All types of yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of Candida in the body. The overgrowth of Candida creates an imbalance of bacteria in the body which can lead to a fungal infection. This imbalance can be caused by a long list of things, including stress, consuming antibiotics, poor diet, and a hormone imbalance.

Vaginal yeast infections are marked by common symptoms such as:

  • Burning sensation during sexual intercourse and urination
  • Redness and itching in the vaginal area
  • Swelling and soreness in the vagnial area
  • Vaginal discharge (either watery or chunky)

Most women know they have a yeast infection based on the symptoms but should consult with their doctor anyway. Your doctor will examine the vagina both externally and internally. This includes examining the walls of the vagina and the cervix, potentially taking cell samples. The doctor may also ask about the patient’s sexual history and whether or not they’re currently taking antibiotics. Treatment may include oral medication, ointments, or suppositories. Proper hygiene and a balanced diet can help avoid the onset of a yeast infection. Once diagnosed, wear loose fitting clothing and wash underwear in hot water to avoid the spread of this type of fungal infection. Due to the discomfort caused by a yeast infection, you may choose not to have sexual intercourse but there is no medical reason to avoid sex while suffering from a yeast infection.

Keep Things Clean and Dry

balanced diet

The first line of defense against fungal infections is keeping certain areas of your body as clean and dry as possible. Fungal infections are most common in dark, warm, moist parts of the body like the feet and groin area. Maintaining a balanced diet can also help with ensuring a healthy level of bacteria. Knowing the symptoms of a fungal infection will also help you and your doctor to properly diagnose your condition and choose the proper treatment plan.

Article Submitted By Community Writer

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