Fungal infections are caused by fungi, a type of microorganism. These microorganisms can be found on the skin, hair, nails and the internal organs. Fungal infections develop by exposure to the fungus. This usually happens by touching someone or something that has already been infected, breathing in infected air, or touching infected soil or an animal. Some types of fungal infections are athletes foot, ringworm or yeast infections. Those people at risk of developing fungal infections are those with a weak immune system, those on chemotherapy or taking steroids, or people with AIDS, HIV or diabetes.
To diagnose a fungal infection, your doctor will ask a series of questions about your medical history and family history. Then, the doctor will perform a physical examination focusing on the affected area. Testing may also be necessary to diagnose the exact type of fungus. Testing will consist of swabbing the affected area with a sterile swab and sending it to a laboratory for testing. Blood tests can also be used for fungal infections. The results of a blood test do not take as long as a culture test.
Symptoms of Fungal Infections
The symptoms of a fungal infection will vary depending on the type and severity of the infection. Many symptoms can include:
- a rash
- inflammation of the affected area
Treatment of fungal infections can vary depending on the type of infection. In many cases, a topical cream will be prescribed. This is one of the best ways to treat the infection. The cream is applied to the affected area daily. In some cases, a pill is prescribed. These may take a little longer to see improvement since they need to enter the blood stream before symptoms decrease. In cases where ringworm is the cause, a shampoo will be prescribed to relieve symptoms.
Ways to Prevent Fungal Infections
There are many ways to try preventing a fungal infection from beginning. One of the best ways to prevent a fungal infection is to avoid contact with an infected person. To help with preventing athletes foot, always wear shoes in the locker room or changing rooms, wash and dry your feet thoroughly after a shower or swimming, and use anti fungal sprays or creams if you have athletes foot. To prevent a scalp infection, do not share combs or brushes with anyone. To prevent jock itch, wash towels after every use, wash the affected area daily, dry the skin completely after showering and always change underwear daily. The best ways to prevent reoccurring yeast infections is to wear loose fitting clothing and cotton underwear, try to avoid wearing pantyhose if possible, and avoid taking bubble baths. Eating yogurt is another way to fight off yeast infections.
There are many ways that fungal infections may develop since fungus is always around us. If you are prone to fungal skin infections, talk to your doctor about ways to prevent them from coming back.