Fungal Infections

If the word “fungus” is enough to make you cringe or go green in the face, rest assured that you are not alone. Most people feel sick at the thought of suffering from a fungal infection. However, are you aware that we all have several different types of fungi living on our skin at all times? These fungi could live on your skin for years without causing any problem. There are some factors though, that could cause the fungi to overgrow or change and lead to an infection. Data shows that there are more than 50,000 different species of fungi in the environment. Out of that around 200 species of fungi can be associated with diseases and only around 20 to 25 species lead to an infection in humans.

A fungal infection can be described as an invasion of one or more species of fungus on the tissues of the body. These infections are usually categorized by the type of microorganism causing the problem, the body part that is affected, the depth to which the body has been penetrated and the form that is taken by the fungi. While there are several types of fungal infections, they can be broadly divided into two types, superficial infections and systemic fungal infections. A fungal infection could occur on the surface of your skin, within a skin fold or any other area that is kept warm by your clothes and shoes. Some of the parts that are prone to fungal infections include the mucus membranes, the lungs, the sinuses and injury sites. Some of the most common types of fungal infections include Tinea Versicolor, Jock Itch, Athlete’s Foot, Barber’s Itch, Ringworm, Fungal Nails, Intertrigo, Oral Thrush, and Vaginal Yeast Infection, to name a few. Some of these fungal infections are more common than the others. Moreover, men are more likely to suffer from certain infections such as Jock Itch and Athlete’s Foot, whereas Vaginal Yeast Infections are obviously prevalent in women.

The severity of an infection may vary from person to person. It is more common for infections to remain confined to a small area of the skin, like the toes or nails. However, this does not mean that the infection cannot spread; if left unchecked and untreated it is possible for the fungal infection to spread on to a wider area of the skin. Alternately, the infection could also penetrate deeper into the tissues. In fact, it is absolutely essential to control a fungal infection, because it can also easily spread from one person to the other.

While some fungal infections do get resolved on their own, most of them require medical treatment. Unfortunately, the treatment for fungal infections could go on for a long period of time and may require medication, topical creams and ointments, home remedies and dietary changes.

Symptoms of Fungal Infections

When it comes to treating mono, rest is one of the most important factors. Unfortunately, mono takes a couple of weeks to resolve completely and most individuals do not wait for the required period of time. Exerting yourself physically because of work or school can increase the risks of a relapse.

  • A strep throat can easily lead to mono, which is why it should be treated as soon as possible. The best way to deal with a strep throat is by gargling with warm saltwater a couple of times a day. For best results, try to use an entire glass of warm water in one go.
  • You can relieve some of the symptoms of mono by keeping your throat moist at all times. This also helps reduce throat irritation or inflammation to a great extent. You could suck on a piece of candy, some ice or a Popsicle for this purpose.
  • Drink a lot of water during the course of the day, to flush any toxins from your body and strengthen the immune system. Warm liquids will also help alleviate the irritation in the throat and fever.
  • In case you have the habit of smoking, you are strongly advised to quit smoking for a few weeks at least. Smoking can aggravate the symptoms of mono and therefore should be strictly avoided.

Causes for Fungal Infections

The types of microorganisms that lead to the different fungal infections vary, as do the factors that trigger off their overgrown and invasion of the body. A type of fungus known as Tinea is what leads to Athlete’s Foot, Ringworm and Jock Itch. However, other common fungal infections, such as vaginal yeast, oral thrush and fungal gastroenteritis are a result of the overgrowth of the Candida Albicans fungus. In case you happen to inhale fungal spores, you could be susceptible to a fungal infection in the lungs. The factors that can lead to such fungal infections are many and include:

  • Antibiotics: It is not just the disease-causing bacteria that die when you take any kind of antibiotics; some of the healthy bacteria in your body may also get killed because of them. This could lead to an imbalance in the microorganisms that are present in your mouth, intestines, vagina, and so on. This results in an overgrowth of the Candida Albicans fungi.
  • Weakened Immune System: In case you have a compromised immune system because of conditions such as AIDS/ HIV, you are more prone to infections and diseases, including fungal infections. Even those who do not have a strong immune system, because they are too young or too old, may end up getting fungal infections more often, as compared to the others.
  • Diabetes: This condition allows the Candida fungi to flourish within a body, often leading to an overgrowth.
  • Lack of Hygiene: Those who do not follow adequate hygienic measures like washing hands at regular intervals, taking a shower every day or wearing fresh clothing are highly vulnerable to fungal infections.
  • Personal Contact: You could easily contract a fungal infection through contact with someone who is already infected. Apart from personal physical contact, this could also occur in case you share linens, clothes, utensils, combs, shoes or other personal items with an infected person.
  • Clothing: Men and women who wear tight-fitting clothing, such as jeans, thongs, underwear and so on may get fungal infections quite often

Fungal infections can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby, during the birthing process.

Remedies for Fungal Infections

Most fungal infections can be controlled and treated, even though the procedure may take some time. In many cases, your health care provider may ask you to take some medicines and apply an antifungal soap, powder, cream or ointment, to speed up the healing process. In addition to that you could also use several home remedies, which help in controlling the overgrowth of the fungi in your body.

  • Apply some clove powder or clove oil directly on to the skin that is affected. Apart from alleviating the uncomfortable symptoms, this remedy also speeds up the healing process
  • Tea tree oil is quite effective in treating yeast infections, athlete’s foot and ringworm. However, this oil is very strong and can have an adverse effect on the skin, if used incorrectly. For best results, dilute a few drops of tea tree oil in water and apply it on to the affected area.
  • Soak your hands and feet in a tub of white vinegar, to cure nail fungus or an athlete’s foot. This remedy disrupts the pH balance of the skin, which in turn, interferes with the growth of fungi on the skin.
  • Raw garlic is believed to have antifungal and antibacterial properties, which is why it is excellent in curing fungal infections. Apply some garlic extract or garlic puree on to the area that has been affected for getting rid of the fungus faster.

Many individuals manage to cure a fungal infection using simple remedies, only to have the problem return after a few days or weeks. In case you notice this problem too, it is absolutely essential to consult a doctor at the earliest.

Diet for Fungal Infections

Everything you eat has an effect on your immune system in one way or the other. Foods high in vitamins, mineral and nutrients generally strengthen your immune system. If your immune system is strong, our body will be able to fight off the fungal infection in a better way. While, there is a lot of controversy about the effectiveness of a diet for fungal infections treatment, most nutritionists agree that certain foods should be avoided as they encourage the growth of a yeast infection. Given below are some of the foods that are regarded as being bad for fungal infections:

  • Acidic foods
  • Alcohol
  • Cheese (made from bovine milk)
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee, aerated drinks or any caffeinated beverage
  • Corn syrup
  • Food additives
  • Hydrogenated fats
  • Junk food like pizza, hotdogs and hamburgers
  • Mono sodium glutamate
  • Refined oil
  • Salt (table salt and refined salt)
  • Spicy food
  • Sugar

The foods that are believed to be good for certain types of fungal infections include:

  • Yogurt (The plain and unflavored kind)
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Vinegar
  • Oatmeal
  • Applesauce
  • Mashed beans

In order to flush out the germs from the body, you need to increase your consumption of water too.

Suggestion for Fungal Infections

In case your fungal infection is persistent and lasts for a long period of time or if the infection seems to get worse in spite of using remedies and medication, it could be an indication of a serious medical condition. In such instances it is absolutely essential to consult a doctor, without any delay.

In case you are taking antibiotics or other types of medicines as a part of treatment for any medical condition, you need to keep your doctor informed about it.

Fungal Infections Treatments - more information
Fungal Infections - Frequently asked questions