Fungal Infection
What is fungal infection?

Fungal infection is an infection that is caused by fungus invading into the skin or the nails or mucosal surfaces. It is very common in people throughout the world.

Fungi live in soil, air, water, plants and some in human body naturally, but when harmful fungi invade the body then it becomes very difficult to kill. The incidence of fungal infections is on rise these days. In fact more and more people are suffering from the more resistant variants of fungi.

Few common types of fungal infections are:-

  • Athlete’s foot
  • Yeast infection
  • Jock itch or dhobi’s itch
  • Ringworm
  • Tinea incognito
  • Candidal balanoposthitis
  • Oral thrush
  • Tinea capitis
  • Onychomycosis or fungal infection of the nails
  • Chronic Paronychia
  • P. Versicolar or malasezia furfur
What are the causes of fungal infection?

The causes of fungal infection can be due to stress, indiscriminate use of medicines esp steroids, hormone imbalance or poor immune status or immunocompromised status like diabetes, HIV, patient on immunosuppressant medicines etc. Fungal infections are contagious and when the body comes in contact with the source it can catch the infection especially when the conditions are conducive, like in an immunocompromised patient.

Things to Know

The causes of fungal infection can be due to stress, indiscriminate use of medicines esp steroids, hormone imbalance or poor immune status or immunocompromised status like diabetes, HIV, patient on immunosuppressant medicines etc. Fungal infections are contagious and when the body comes in contact with the source it can catch the infection especially when the conditions are conducive, like in an immunocompromised patient.

Fungal infection may cause redness, itching, colour change in the skin and sometimes cracking and peeling of skin. Most of the cutaneous fungal infections form a ring like structure on the skin, that is why they are called ringworm infection. In patients who have used topical steroids the classical presentation of fungus is not sen and sometimes it can’t even be detected in KOH preparations.

Tinea of scalp can manifest os hai loss and some greyish scaling can also be visible depending upon the variant of fungi.

Onychomycosis or the nail infection can be seen as dark or yellowish coloured thick nails which are very brittle.

CBP or candidate balanoposthitis or fungal infection of the glans and prepuce can be seen as erythema with exfoliation of skin and sometimes white plaque kind of deposits.

In P. Versicolar white or black spots are seen in the neck and upper trunk area, which can be associated with itching in some patients.

Age group is not specified but anyone whose immune system is weak can come in contact with fungal infection and a person who is on immunosuppressants or steroids is usually prone to get this infection. There are some infections which are very much age specific, for example tinea capitis is not seen in adults, it is very very common in children.
As mentioned above anyone and everyone can come in contact with fungal infection, no gender is specified.
People who are involved in outdoor activities which involves a lot of sweating are more prone to this condition. People who work under hot & humid conditions have more chances of getting this disease
No there is no genetic predisposition for this condition.
Topical medicines like cotrimazole, miconazole, fluconazole, sertaconazole, luliconazole, terbinafine, etc. and oral medicine like griseofulvin, fluconazole, terbinafine, itraconazole and the latest one voriconazole. So these medicines can be used to treat fungal infections but these days we find a lot of resistances cases where patients fail to respond to almost all these medicines.
Medicines do have their side effects but when taken under supervision of a dermatologist they pretty safe. There are some drug interactions of some antifungals, which when prescribed one should be careful.
One has complete the full course as told or suggested by the doctor because the fungal infection can come back in case it is partially treated and the treatment is not completed. One should wear loose cloths especially the undergarments become wet due to sweating and should be changed frequently. One must wear cotton clothes and maintain personal hygiene.
This condition can come back if one does not follow all the advice properly. One must maintain proper hygiene, take regular bath, wear clean cotton cloths and use medicines as prescribed by doctor. These days the incidence of fungal resistance is on rise and chances of relapse & recurrence are very high. So one should follow the instructions of treating physician properly.
According to Dr Ruchi Aggarwal, MD is a renowned dermatologist with almost 2 decades of experience in the field of dermatology. The resistant cases which fail to respond to medicines are most commonly seen because of application of steroids, especially there is a condition called Tinea incognito. Where people use topical steroid which actually reduces inflammation and gives a temporary relief but the actual problem increases and medicines also fail to respond. This condition should never be self treated one should always consult a dermatologist to get the most appropriate treatment.
A prior consultation is required with the dermatologist to understand the need of the treatment. Medicines work hand in hand with the procedural treatments. Selection of the right treatment according to your needs is very much necessary. Knowing the downtime of the individual treatment and its outcome is equally important. After a thorough consultation , patient can opt for the treatment and can get it done after taking a prior appointment as per his/her availability.

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