Infection and Inflammation

7 Common Types of Fungal Infection and their Causes

Last updated on October 20th, 2022 at 07:44 am

A fungal infection occurs when fungi invade the body. There are many types of fungal infections. Learn about them here! Types of fungal infections include candidiasis, dermatophytosis, histoplasmosis, blastomycosis, coccidioidomycosis, aspergillosis, cryptococcosis, and pythiosis.

We can classify fungal infections as superficial, subcutaneous, and systemic. Superficial infections only affect the outer layer of skin or hair. They typically cause inflammation and irritation with visible redness, pain, and swelling. Subcutaneous infections are less common than superficial or systemic ones and often occur in people with weakened immune systems because of cancer treatment or HIV/AIDS.

Types of Fungal Infections

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 1.5 million different species of fungi on Earth. About 300 make people are sick. Fungi live outdoors in soil and on plants and trees. They may also live on indoor surfaces and on human skin.

Fungi are all around us. Their microscopic spores can be found on the ground and in the air. Most of these fungi are harmless. However, certain types can cause serious fungal infections in some people.

Sepsis and Fungal Infection

Fungal infections can occur anywhere in your body, but most commonly, they begin on your skin. Most may cause some discomfort, such as redness and itching on the skin, but they may be easily treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Sometimes these skin infections do not heal though and they worsen, possibly triggering sepsis. When a fungus inhaled and enters your body or introduced into your body in another way, the risk of infection rises, especially if you have an impaired immune system. People with impaired immune systems are more likely to develop sepsis with fungal infections than people with normal immune systems.

Sometimes incorrectly called blood poisoning, sepsis is the body’s often deadly response to infection. Sepsis kills and disables millions and requires early suspicion and treatment for survival.

Sepsis and septic shock can result from an infection anywhere in the body, such as pneumonia, influenza, or urinary tract infections. Worldwide, one-third of people who develop sepsis die. Many who survive are left with life-changing effects, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic pain and fatigue, organ dysfunction (organs don’t work properly), and/or amputations.

Types of 7 Common Fungal Infections

Of the thousands of species of fungi, there are only a few that can cause disease or discomfort in people. Invasive fungal disease is relatively rare in healthy persons because of our sophisticated immune systems. However, serious fungal diseases frequently occur in immunocompromised patients.

Fortunately, superficial fungal infections are much more common, and there are very few people who have not had to cope with at least one of the following at some stage of their lives. The most well-known types of fungal infections include;

  1. Athlete’s Foot (Tinea Pedis) is a fungal infection of the feet with itching, scaling, and redness. Several fungi, including Trichophyton, Epidermophyton, and Microsporum, can cause it.
  2. Ringworm (Tinea corporis) can appear as a red or silver rash anywhere on the body. It is usually ring-shaped and is most commonly caused by the fungus trichophyton rubrum. 
  3. Jock itch, also known as tinea cruris, is a fungal infection of the skin in the groin. Fungi flourish in a warm, moist environment, and that certainly describes the groin. Women can get jock itch, though the infection strikes men. Jock itch can be very itchy, as its name implies, but it usually responds well to over-the-counter fungal infection creams. Preventing jock itch involves keeping the groin as dry as possible and sometimes using an antifungal powder every day.
  4. Tinea’s capitis is a ringworm that affects the scalp.
  5. Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the toenails or fingernails that can involve any component of the nail, including the matrix, bed, or plate. It can cause pain, discomfort, and disfigurement. Various fungal organisms, the most common being dermatophyte, caused onychomycoses. Yeast and moulds also cause nail infections.
  6. Tinea Versicolor or pityriasis Versicolor is a common condition that causes small patches of skin to become scaly and discolored. They can be darker or lighter than the surrounding skin, or even red or pink. A yeast called Malassezia, which lives on the skin of most people, caused the condition, causing no problems.
  7. Cutaneous Candidiasis can involve almost any skin area of the body but mostly occurs in warm, moist, creased areas such as the armpits and groin. Candida is the most common cause of a nappy rash in infants. Candida is also common in people who are obese or have diabetes. Antibiotics, steroid therapy, and chemotherapy increase the risk of cutaneous candidiasis. Candida can also causes;
    1. Infections of the nails
    2. Infections of the corners of the mouth
    3. Oral thrush (infection of the moist lining of the mouth)
    4. Vaginal yeast infections

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What are the causes of fungal infection?

Yeasts (such as Candida or Malassezia furfur) or dermatophytes, such as Epidermophyton, Microsporum, and Trichophyton, cause common fungal skin infections. Fungal infection occurs when the fungal spores come into contact with the skin or inhaled.

Who all are prone to fungal infection?

Those who are prone to fungal infections include:

  • people with weakened immune systems such as children, elderly people, people suffering AIDS, HIV infection, cancer, diabetes,
  • people with a genetic predisposition toward fungal infections
  • people who sweat a lot since sweaty clothes and shoes can enhance fungus growth on the skin
  • people who come in contact with a person suffering from a fungal infection
  • people who frequent communal areas with moisture, such as locker rooms and showers, since fungi require moisture to grow and reproduce
  • people who are obese as they have excessive skin folds

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What are the early symptoms of fungal infection?

The symptoms of a fungal infection depend on what part of the body affected. For example:

  • A vaginal yeast infection usually causes itching and foul discharge from the vagina.
  • A fungal infection on the skin may cause redness, itching, flaking, and swelling.
  • A fungal infection in the lungs may cause coughing, fever, chest pain, and muscle aches.

How to prevent fungal infection?

We can prevent many fungal infections by taking certain precautions. For example, to reduce the risk of developing athlete’s foot, it’s important to keep your feet clean and dry. If walking in a locker room, pool, or a communal shower, wear flip-flops or sandals to keep your skin from touching the floor. To reduce the risk of a vaginal yeast infection, it’s important to wear “breathable” underwear, avoid using scented sprays or powders, and practice good hygiene.

To prevent inhaling spores which can cause a lung infection, wear a mask when working in an area where fungal spores may stirred up and get into the air you are breathing, such as chicken coops or other areas where there may be bird or bat droppings, as well as decaying vegetation, which can happen when you’re working in the garden.

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