FUNGAL INFECTIONS

Fungal Skin infections

Most people cringe at the thought of having a fungal or yeast infection. Many types of fungi live on our skin all the time. Most of these fungi don't cause any problems, but sometimes fungus will change & cause an infection.

A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. The Fungi are classified as a kingdom that is separate from plants, animals and bacteria. One major difference is that fungal cells have cell walls that contain chitin, unlike the cell walls of plants, which contain cellulose. These and other differences show that the fungi form a single group of related organisms, named the Eumycota ( true fungi or Eumycetes ), that share a common ancestor (a monophyletic group). This fungal group is distinct from the structurally similar slime molds ( myxomycetes ) and water molds ( oomycetes ). The discipline of biology devoted to the study of fungi is known as mycology, which is often regarded as a branch of botany, even though genetic studies have shown that fungi are more closely related to animals than to plants.

Abundant worldwide, most fungi are inconspicuous because of the small size of their structures, and their cryptic lifestyles in soil, on dead matter, and as symbionts of plants, animals, or other fungi. They may become noticeable when fruiting, either as mushrooms or molds. Fungi perform an essential role in the decomposition of organic matter and have fundamental roles in nutrient cycling and exchange. They have long been used as a direct source of food, such as mushrooms and truffles, as a leavening agent for bread, and in fermentation of various food products, such as wine, beer, and soy sauce. Since the 1940s, fungi have been used for the production of antibiotics, and, more recently, various enzymes produced by fungi are used industrially and in detergents. Fungi are also used as biological agents to control weeds and pests. Many species produce bioactive compounds called mycotoxins, such as alkaloids and polyketides, that are toxic to animals including humans. The fruiting structures of a few species contain psychotropic compounds and are consumed recreationally or in traditional spiritual ceremonies. Fungi can break down manufactured materials and buildings, and become significant pathogens of humans and other animals. Losses of crops due to fungal diseases (e.g. rice blast disease) or food spoilage can have a large impact on human food supplies and local economies.

The fungus kingdom encompasses an enormous diversity of taxa with varied ecologies, life cycle strategies, and morphologies ranging from single-celled aquatic chytrids to large mushrooms. However, little is known of the true biodiversity of Kingdom Fungi, which has been estimated at around 1.5 million species, with about 5% of these having been formally classified. Ever since the pioneering 18th and 19th century taxonomical works of Carl Linnaeus, Christian Hendrik Persoon, and Elias Magnus Fries, fungi have been classified according to their morphology (e.g., characteristics such as spore color or microscopic features) or physiology. Advances in molecular genetics have opened the way for DNA analysis to be incorporated into taxonomy, which has sometimes challenged the historical groupings based on morphology and other traits. Phylogenetic studies published in the last decade have helped reshape the classification of Kingdom Fungi, which is divided into one subkingdom, seven phyla, and ten subphyla.

Most people cringe at the thought of having a fungal or yeast infection. The reality, however, is that we all have many types of fungi that live on our skin all the time. Most of the time these fungi don't cause any problems, but sometimes a fungus will change and cause an infection. These are some of the more common fungal and yeast infections people experience.

Tinea Versicolor

Tinea versicolor is also known as pityriasis versicolor. It is a fungal infection of the top layer of the skin, the epidermis. The yeast responsible for this rash loves oil glands, so teenagers and young adults tend to get tinea versicolor more often than older people. There is a treatment, but the infection often comes back. Fortunately, this infection doesn't cause any pain or itching.

Jock Itch

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. Jock itch can be very itchy 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.

Athlete's Foot

Athlete's foot, or tinea pedis, is a common fungal infection of the feet. There are different types of athlete's foot infections, but the most common one occurs in between the toes. This infection causes intense itching and breaks down the skin so it often looks like white goo between the toes. Athlete's foot is typically treated with creams or lotions but sometimes a bad case will require an oral antifungal medication.

Ringworm

Ringworm, also known as tinea corporis, is a common fungal infection of the skin of the body. There are several fungi that can cause ringworm and they live in the epidermis. Ringworm causes more symptoms than tinea versicolor, like itching and a noticeable rash, and it's treated pretty easily with a topical antifungal medication.

Ringworm of the Scalp

Ringworm of the scalp, or tinea capitis, is a more intensive fungal infection than ringworm on the skin. The fungi that cause this ringworm not only invade the skin of the scalp but also the hair follicle. It can cause the involved hair to fall out leaving a bald spot with a ringworm-type rash in the center. Tinea capitis does not respond well to topical creams. It has to be treated with oral antifungal medications.

Ringworm of the Beard

Ringworm of the beard, or tinea barbae, is similar to ringworm of the scalp in that the fungus infects the skin and the hair follicle. The most common type of tinea barbae is an infection deep in the skin that causes very red nodules on the face with pus that drains and tunnels through the skin to other areas close to the nodules. A less common type is a mild infection on the surface of the skin. This infection has to be treated with oral antifungal medications. Creams or lotions are not effective.

Fungal Nails

A fungal nail infection, or onychomycosis, is caused by a fungal infection in the part of the toe that makes the nail. As the nail grows out, it becomes brittle, thickens, and separates from the nail bed. Fungal nail infections have to be treated with oral antifungal medications. Creams and lotions don't help.

Intertrigo

Intertrigo is a yeast infection in skin folds. Because this yeast grows easily in warm, moist areas, any place on the body where skin touches skin is susceptible. Intertrigo most commonly occurs in the armpits, groin, and under heavy breasts or fat folds.

Thrush

Thrush is a yeast infection inside the mouth. It is common in babies because their immune systems are still developing. It can also occur if someone takes antibiotics or uses an inhaled corticosteroid without rinsing their mouth afterwards. Thrush is easily treated with antifungal medicine in the mouth.

Id Reaction

An id reaction isn't exactly a fungal infection. It's actually a rash on another part of the body in response to a fungal infection somewhere else on the body. An id reaction is very itchy and often causes blisters on the skin. This rash goes away after the fungal infection has been treated.

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