The human body is home to several types of fungi that usually remain in a dormant state. In certain cases, however, these fungi can change or get triggered by external factors to multiply and cause infections, commonly called as fungal or yeast infections. Although fungal infections can be caused by different species of fungi, most of the infections in the human body are caused by an organism called Candida Albicans.
Also present in small quantities in the human body, Candida Albicans (also called as Candida) is responsible for most of the fungal infections contracted by the body.
Common Causes for Fungal Infections
Although there are plenty of reasons for a person to contract fungal infections, here are some of the most common causes for the same.
Improper Personal Hygiene
Cleanliness plays an important part in keeping fungal infections at bay. Poor hygiene and unclean habits can cause the fungi in the body to multiply rapidly. This could lead to the onset of several fungal infections.
Weakened Immune System
A weak immune system would not be able to fight against harmful pathogens and organisms that can attack the healthy cells in the body. These pathogens can also aggravate the dormant fungi to grow to abnormal levels, thereby causing fungal infections.
Overuse of Antibiotics and Other Drugs
Antibiotics and Immunosuppressive drugs are known to affect the healthy cells of the body in addition to getting rid of the harmful ones. Therefore, a person who is on antibiotics and other similar drugs would have a weakened immune system that is incapable of fighting off bacteria, fungi and other harmful pathogens. This in turn can lead to the growth of fungal infections in the body.
Complications arising from Fungal Infections
Certain fungal infections can be superficial while others can be life threatening. The superficial infections usually occur on the skin or other areas of the body that are easily treatable. Life threatening fungal infections on the other hand can occur deep inside the body (ex: the circulatory system) and are very hard to detect and treat.
Different Types of Fungal Infections
Given below are some of the most common fungal infections that affect the body.
As the name suggests, this particular fungal infection occurs on the skin in and around the groin region. The condition is also called as Tine Cruris, and is caused by fungi which thrive in warm, moist areas. Jock Itch can lead to severe itching and irritation in the infected area. The condition can be treated by keeping the groin area clean and dry, and by applying an antifungal powder or cream every day.
Also called as Tinea Corporis, Ringworm is a very common skin related fungal infection that is caused by fungi living in the epidermal layer of the skin. The infection can lead to the development of red rashes (looking like ringworms) on the skin in the infected area. The rashes are accompanied by severe itching and irritation. Ringworms can also be treated via antifungal medications.
Also known to affect the epidermis, Tinea Versicolor is caused by certain fungi in the skin that love oil glands and thrive on the subcutaneous glands present on the skin surface. This leads to the formation of rashes over the affected area. Tinea Versicolor is also called Pityriasis Versicolor, and is more prevalent in youngsters. The condition does not cause pain, itching or irritation, but can occur frequently even after treatment.
This type of fungal infection is caused by fungi that thrive in the warm, moist areas of the skin folds (ex: the armpits, thighs, groins, underneath breasts and fat folds). Typical symptoms of Intertrigo include the appearance of rashes in the infected area followed by pain and irritation.
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Also called as Onychomycosis, fungal nails are caused by fungi that live near the nail bed. Improper hygiene can cause these fungi to grow in the region where the nail and toe connect. This in turn would cause the nails to become thick and brittle. In certain cases, the infected nail would separate from the nail bed and cause immense pain. Fungal nails can be treated with oral antifungal medicines as lotions and creams would not be effective.
Usually occurring inside the mouth, Thrush is a fungal yeast infection caused by the Candida fungus. Usually caused by a weakened immune system, the infection can lead to the formation of white lesions on the lips, tongue, gums, inner cheeks, throat or the roof of the mouth. The lesions are extremely painful and can bleed if accidently scraped (for ex: while brushing). IN certain cases, thrush can also cause severe throat pain and fever. The most common form of treatment for this fungal infection is oral antifungal medications.
Also called Tine Pedis, Athlete’s Foot is a very common fungal infection that occurs in the feet. While there are different variants of the infection, the most common form of the infection occurs in between the toes. The infection would cause the skin in this region to peel off, and cause itchiness and irritation. The infection is usually treated with antifungal powders or creams, with the odd case of oral antifungal medications used to treat severe infections.
Also called as Tinea Capitis, Scalp Ringworm is a fungal infection that affects the skin and hair follicles on the scalp. The fungi behind the infection can affect the skin and enter the hair follicles to cause intense infection inside the epidermis. In most cases, the infection would lead to hair fall and the formation of a red rash in the infected region. The best known treatment for Tine Capitis is an oral antifungal medication that would work better than topical creams and lotions.
Treatment Options of Fungal Infections
In most cases, fungal infections can be treated topically with the help of antifungal creams, lotions, powders or ointments. The most common OTC medications in this case would include Miconazole, Butoconazole and Clotrimazole.
The most common oral antifungal medications for fungal infections include Terbinafine, Fluconazole, Ketoconazole and Itraconazole. Scalp related infections can be treated with OTC medicated, anti dandruff shampoos.
Antifungal medications can cause several side effects in the body. As an alternative, one can opt for herbal remedies to tackle fungal infections effectively minus the side effects. Some of the more common herbal remedies for fungal infections include Cinnamomum Camphora (Camphor), Allium Sativum (Garlic), Punica Granatum (Pomegranate), Lavandula (Lavender), Echinacea Purpurea (Echinacea) and Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) etc.
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