Introduction to Fungal Infection
There are many different types of fungal infections and they can affect just one area or multiple areas of your body.
What is a Fungal Infection?
There are many different types of fungal infections and they can affect just one area or multiple areas of your body. Fungal skin infection is diagnosed by looking at your skin and location of the rash. Your GP can take sample by scrapping your skin to confirm the diagnosis at the laboratory.
Common fungal infections are ringworm, athlete’s foot, fungal nail infection, vaginal thrush and severe dandruff.
Invasive fungal infections are less common but more serious, affecting the lungs and the brain, typically in people with weakened immune system.
What causes a Fungal Infection?
Fungi are organisms that absorb nutrients by feeding off living or dead tissues. They are attracted to keratin which is present in the skin, hair and nails causing infections.
People with weakened immune system are more vulnerable to invasive fungal infections.
What are the symptoms of a Fungal Infection?
Symptoms of a fungal skin infection depend on the type of fungus and where it is affecting.
Ringworm (a ring-like red rash on the body skin or scalp)
Athlete’s foot (red, flaky and itchy skin on the feet)
Fungal nail infection (discolouration and thickening of finger nails or toenails),
Vaginal thrush (irritation of the vagina)
Severe dandruff (peeling of flakes of skin on the head).
How is a Fungal Infection treated?
There are many antifungal medicines and they work by killing the fungal cells or preventing them from reproducing.
Depending your specific fungal infections, there are many types of medicines – topical antifungals are applied directly to the affected areas, oral antifungals are swallowed in pills or liquid form, intravenous antifungals are injected directly into your blood through the skin and intravaginal antifungal pessaries involve small tablets put inside the vagina.
Before taking antifungals, you should discuss with your GP regarding any allergies or other health conditions that you may have and the medications you are currently taking as the medicine may interact with other drugs. Your doctor will also talk you through the possible side effects of antifungal medicines and recommend an appropriate dosage for the medicine. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take antifungal medicines.
Mild cases can be self-treated at home by washing your clothes, beddings and towels to get rid of the fungus and buy some over-the-counter medications at a pharmacy.