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Types Of Fungal Infections

Types of fungal infection
August 14th, 2023 / fungal nail

When we think of fungal infections, we tend to think of things like ringworm and candida (which cause oral thrush and yeast infections) that can usually be treated with over-the-counter medications. There is actually a whole range of fungal infections that a person could develop over their lifetime, some of them specific to our feet. Treating them is relatively simple, provided you see a relevant medical professional and get on top of the infection early.

The team at Doubleview Podiatry has ample experience in treating the types of fungal infections that affect our feet, such as fungal nails and athlete’s foot. If you suspect that you’ve developed an infection, be sure to make an appointment with one of our experienced podiatrists today – we’ll have you putting your best foot forward again in no time. 

What are Fungal Infections?  

Medically known as mycosis, these are diseases that are caused by coming into contact with a fungus (either yeast or mould). Although fungal infections are most common on the skin or nails, they can also occur in the mouth, throat, urinary tract, lungs and other parts of the body.

What does a Fungal Infection Look Like?

A fungal infection that affects the skin may appear red, swollen or bumpy. It could look like a rash or there may be a visible lump under the skin. An infection that affects the nails tends to make them discoloured (usually yellow or white). It can also cause them to thicken or crack. An infection that affects your mouth or throat can cause a white coating or patches.

Is a Fungal Infection Serious?

The good news is that most fungal infections, like those that occur on your skin or nails, aren’t usually that serious. If you have a weakened immune system, however, you may be at higher risk of developing a serious illness if you were to contract certain fungal infections. 

What Are the Three Categories of Fungal Infection?

Fungal infections fall into one of three categories:

  • Superficial
    Also known as mucocutaneous infections, these affect your nails, skin and mucous membranes (such as the mouth, throat and vagina). Common examples include ringworm, athlete’s foot, onychomycosis, candidiasis, and tinea versicolor.
  • Subcutaneous
    Occurring underneath the surface of the skin when fungus gets into a cut or wound, these infections are common in tropical and subtropical climates which needs nail fungus treatment. Examples include sporotrichosis, chromoblastomycosis, and eumycetoma (which commonly affects the feet).
  • Deep
    These infections are found in places other than your skin (such as the lungs, blood, urinary tract, and even brain). Common examples include histoplasmosis, blastomycosis, invasive candidiasis, mucormycosis, pneumonia, cryptococcosis, and aspergillosis.

How are Fungal Infections Treated?

The good news is that many fungal infections can be treated using various antifungal medications. These may include oral medications, IV medications, lotions or creams, powders, mouthwash or lozenges, eye drops, shampoo, and even laser therapy.

The preferred treatment method will depend on the type of infection, how severe it is, and what sort of methods you have already tried. This is why it’s important that you see a relevant medical professional to ensure that you’re accurately diagnosed and have a thorough treatment plan developed.

If you suspect a fungal infection in your toenail or foot, it’s recommended that you make an appointment with an experienced podiatrist or foot specialist Perth.

Can Fungal Infections be Prevented?

As they thrive in warm and moist environments, unfortunately, not all types of fungal infections can be completely prevented. Practising good hygiene, however, is a good way to avoid developing one.

Keep your skin, particularly areas like between your toes, clean and dry. Wash your hands often (especially after touching other people or animals). Don’t use other people’s towels and personal care products. Always wear shoes in locker rooms, public showers, and swimming pool areas. Wipe down gym equipment before and after using it.

Who is at Risk of Developing a Fungal Infection?

There are actually several factors that can increase your risk of developing an infection:

  • Dampness and Humidity
    Fungi need a warm, moist environment in order to grow. Therefore, walking barefoot in damp places (like locker rooms, gyms, and public showers) can increase your risk of exposure, as can sweating heavily and working in humid environments.
  • Poor Circulation
    Any condition that causes poor blood circulation can actually raise your risk of infection. This is because poor circulation affects your immune response and decreases your body’s ability to fight off infection.
  • Menopause
    Hormonal changes in postmenopausal women can reduce the acidity of the vagina, which can make you more vulnerable to yeast infections.
  • Suppressed Immune System
    Many things could potentially weaken the immune system, such as nutrient deficiencies, immunodeficiency disorders, smoking, and even stress. If your immune system isn’t working the way it’s supposed to, you could be vulnerable to infection.
  • Certain Medications
    Some medications can actually reduce your body’s ability to fight off infection. Antibiotics, for example, kill off helpful bacteria as well as harmful ones. Cancer treatments, like chemotherapy, can also put you at risk.
  • Nail and Skin Injury
    Even a small injury to your skin or nail could allow fungi to enter your body. This is why it’s important to clean wounds and cover them.

Seek Treatment for Fungal Infections 

All types of fungal infections can be uncomfortable or even painful, which is why it’s important that you seek a diagnosis from a medical professional as soon as you notice symptoms. In some cases, it can take weeks or even months for the infection to be effectively treated and eliminated – it’s not something that should be put off.

Contact the team at Doubleview Podiatry if you suspect that your toenails or feet have developed a fungal infection, such as athlete’s foot or onychomycosis. Our experienced podiatrists will craft an effective treatment plan that sees you walking on sunshine in no time. 

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