Fungal infections, also known as mycosis, occur when fungi pass the barriers of resistance in a living body to create an infection. Athletes are usually susceptible to fungi since most of them sweat profusely. Fungi may infect any part of the body and may be difficult to treat. Fungi that are only superficial may be treated using creams or ointments that are commercially available. The fungi live on the keratin found on the skin, hair and nails.

Classification of Fungal Infections

Fungal infections are classified according to the tissue that they colonize. They are grouped into:

  • Superficial mycoses, which are found on the outer layer of the skin or the hair (epidermis)
  • Cutaneuos mycoses, those that extend deeper into the foremost layer of skin (epidermis)
  • Subcutaneuos mycoses, those found on all the layers of skin and the muscles.

Systemic mycosis, due to primary pathogens, is a virulent infection that typically starts out in the lungs and could spread to other organs, while systemic mycosis, due to opportunistic pathogens, is an infection on people with immune deficiencies who otherwise would be uninfected. People with AIDS are usually susceptible to such infections as well.

Common Fungal Infections

The type of infection is classified according to what organisms are present. Two common types of fungal infections are Dermatophyte infections and Yeast infections. 

The Dermatophyte infections, usually superficial, are very common, appearing on the hair and on the skin. The most common form of a dermatophyte infection is athlete’s foot. The fungi, Tinea pedis and Tinea manuum are the primary causes of athlete’s foot. When combined with bacteria, they cause the affected area to become red, itchy, scaly, dry and could sometimes cause cracked skin or blisters.

Yeast infections are usually caused by the fungus Candida albicans. They are usually harmless, but an array of factors, like being a diabetic, may cause symptoms to develop. A common yeast infection would be Thrush (Candidiasis). Often looking like small white patches, Thrush can affect the mouth and tongue and other areas with mucous membranes or moist folded skin, such as the vagina.

Causes

Moisture on the skin increases the chances of contracting fungal infection. If people don't dry their skin properly after sweating or bathing, they are encouraging fungi to develop on their skin. Skin surfaces that are damaged can also serve as entry points, and can let fungi grow and infect it.

Fungal infection could be external or internal. External infections could be easily treated with creams or antibiotics in serious cases. Internal infections, however, are potentially fatal especially to people with immune deficiencies such as people with AIDS or HIV and diabetes.

Prevention

There are very simple ways of preventing a fungal infection in one’s body. Thoroughly dry the skin after bathing to reduce moisture. Wear loose clothing so sweat can evaporate properly. It is important to thoroughly wash bed linens to get rid of spores, and alternate the use of shoes (this prevents athlete’s foot).