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Fungal infection

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Fungal infection refers to the condition in which fungi pass the top layer of the skin, hair or nails. Fungal infection is also known as mycosis. It is commonly caused by a fungus called a dermophyte. Fungal infections of the skins are known as ringworm or tinea. There are several kinds of ringworm and they include: body ringworm, jock itch, athlete’s foot, scalp ringworm, nail ringworm, and beard ringworm. Depending on the fungal infections, they are usually not life threatening and are commonly curable. However, they may lead to more serious bacterial infections in the elderly and those who have preexisting autoimmune conditions, such as AIDS. Anyone can develop fungal infection of the skin. However, men are more commonly susceptible to jock itch and scalp ringworms are seen more often in children.

FUNGAL INFECTION SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Certain fungal infections such as ringworm like warm, moist areas of the skin. They are likely to invade the body via the gap between the toes and fingernails, in the groin, and on other parts of the body where there are folds of skin. In contrast to common belief, ringworms are not caused by a worm. The fungus can be transmitted by cats or dogs, combs and brushes, pillows, hats, towels, and is usually found in areas that are warm and moist.

The fungal infection or mycosis can be classified according to the tissue level it invades. Superficial mycoses are limited to the outermost layers of the skin and hair. Cutaneous mycoses extend deeper into the skin. The subcutaneous mycoses involve that dermis, subcutaneous tissues, and muscles. Systemic mycoses due to primary pathogens originate in the lungs and may spread to many organ systems. Lastly, the system mycoses due to opportunistic pathogens are infections of patients with immune deficiencies who would otherwise not be infected.

FUNGAL INFECTION DIAGNOSIS

When consulting a doctor about fungal infection, the doctor will examine the affected area and can usually make a diagnosis based on the appearance. The doctor can also take a sample of the infected area by swabbing or scraping off a small piece. The test is usually quick and can easily determine if the infection is caused by a dermophyte.

There are several indications of fungal infection in the body. The general signs of fungal infections are itching, painful erythma, scaling, and “satellite” papules and pustules. There are also specific symptoms depending on the fungal infection. Fungal infection caused by dermophytes, like ringworms, appears like a rash that forms one-half to one-inch, ring-shaped, pink or red patches with a clear center. This rash may slightly itch. This can be caused by exposure to fungus itself or due to excessive heat and humidity. Jock itch appears around the groin area, though never on the penis itself, and looks like a red, ring-like rash. The rash looks like scaling or crusted patches and spread as scaly areas with raised edges. It can be extremely itchy and form small, painful blisters. Jock itch is commonly caused by moisture friction from tight clothing, which is common in athletes. Athlete’s foot manifests between the toes as a scaly, itchy rash. The fungal infection can range from mild irritation to crackling and peeling, making the skin sore and more susceptible to other bacterial infection. The factors that could have contributed to the athlete’s foot are instances where the person shares a communal bathing facility, or wears heavy footwear with no way for respiration to evaporate.

FUNGAL INFECTION CAUSES

Scalp ringworms can cause round patches of hair loss, broken hair, or an itchy and scaly scalp. This is extremely contagious among children. Nail ringworm is commonly found on the toenails than the fingernails. This kind of fungal infection makes the nail appear thickened and dull. The infected part of the nail may crumble away from the rest of the nail. It is sometimes possible for the fungal infection to spread from one part of the body to another. This is an allergic reaction to the fungus. In order to properly treat fungal infection, the person infected must first consult a doctor to verify the existence of the fungal infection. The doctor can confirm the clinical diagnosis by having a KOH examination of skin scrapings and fungal culture. There is also the skin biopsy that confirms the fungal infection.
fungal infection
Image: Fungal Infection


For Athlete’s Foot, the person with the fungal infections is advised to use topical antifungal creams once or twice a day for 2 to 4 weeks and continued for 2 weeks when the spot has cleared. Anti-sweating treatment may also be used by those who sweat greatly. Topical corticosteroid should only be used if there is a fast secondary eczematous reaction. If this happens, the corticosteroid must be only be used when combined with the topical antifungal preparation. The systematic therapy should only be considered if the fungal infection includes: toe nails, severe and fine scales on the soles of the feet accompanied with redness, and if there is no response to topical therapy.

People with jock itch need to apply the antifungal cream on the affected area and 4-6 cm on the surrounding skin. The cream should be used for 2 weeks after the rash has gone. However, oral antifungal drugs can be used instead of the creams if the fungal infection has spread to the buttocks or abdomen. The treatment for fungal infections on other parts of the body is similar to the treatment of jock itch. The person with asymptomatic nail may choose against treatment after weighing the risks. However, there is an effective antifungal polish that can be used to treat nail fungal infection in the early stages.

FUNGAL INFECTION TREATMENT

This is another alternative aside from oral treatment without the danger of side effects. Patients with peripheral vascular disease or diabetes may be at an increased risk of having complications from having a nail fungal infection. It is advisable for them to choose Terbinafine. A minimum of 3 months is required for toenail infection, while only 6 weeks for fingernail fungal infection.

There are shampoos that contain antifungal ingredients such as Ketoconazole that can be very helpful in treating fungal infection in the scalp. For oral treatment, it is recommended to take Griseofulvin. This treatment usually takes 8-10 weeks. Since children are more susceptible to scalp fungal infection, there is no need to stay away from school once they have started the treatment.

FUNGAL INFECTION PREVENTION

Hygiene is important in the prevention of fungal infection. Always keep the skin clean and dry. After touching other people or animals, it is important to wash the hands. Sports clothing should also be washed after use. Remember to wear the proper footwear when using a community swimming pool or shower. It is also necessary to notify your doctor if you feel any symptoms associated with fungal prevention.
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