Some fungi are normally found on the human body. Disrupted skin or mucosal barriers, prolonged use of antibiotics, steroid treatment, chemotherapy, weakened immune systems, diabetes, etc. can cause their overgrowth and increase the risk of fungal infections.
Fungal infections can be superficial, subcutaneous or systemic. Superficial fungal infection affects the skin or mucous membranes. Ringworm is a skin fungal infection which starts as a small portion and spreads in a ring form. It commonly occurs in the sole of the feet, armpits and behind the ears. Pityriasis versicolor shows up as light coloured or black coloured patches on arms, chest or back. These infections are caused due to moisture, wearing wet denims for a long time and constant friction against skin. Use of detergents or douches, hormonal disturbances, taking antibiotics or immunosuppressive drugs, etc. can cause overgrowth of Candida and cause vulvo-vaginal candidiasis. It causes itching, soreness, and thick, curdy-white discharge. Fungal infection in the nails (Onychomycosis) can turn the nails yellowish or blackish in colour and cause them to become brittle. In some instances the nails may also emit a foul odour. There are a number of home remedies that can help beat this infection. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the foot. It occurs more often when feet are exposed to warm, moist environment. It causes redness, itching, peeling and blisters on the skin. Subcutaneous fungal infection may occur when fungi enter tissues and muscles after a piercing trauma to the skin. Sometimes fungi may enter into the bloodstream and cause systemic infections. Histoplasmosis and cryptococcosis are systemic fungal infections that spread from old and dry bird droppings.
Fungal infection is diagnosed by examining the specimen from affected area under microscope or by culture test. Treatment is through anti-fungal medications.