Fungal infection (Mycoses) is a disease that is caused by fungi. There are millions of species of fungi. The most common species are yeasts, molds, mildews, smuts, rusts, and mushrooms.
Fungi live in dirt, household surfaces, and on your skin. In the human body, they make their home in the moist areas of the body. Just like other microorganisms, fungi can be useful or harmful. Harmful fungi can lead to an infection that is tough to treat, especially when the affected area has an environment suitable for them to grow.
Hundreds of the fungus that can cause infections exist in our everyday environment. Not everyone who is exposed to these fungus experience adverse effects. Some of the conditions that make fungal infections grow and cause symptoms include:
- A weak immune system
- A new fungi species in the environment
- Travel to an area with excessive fungi in the environment
- Prolonged exposure to certain species of fungi
Fungal infections are common between the toes, in the genital area, and under the breast in women. Fungus can also affect other parts of the body such as lungs, hair, brain, bloodstream, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina.
Risk factors for skin fungal infections
Some of the factors that can put you at risk of developing a skin fungal infection include:
- Sweating heavily
- Not keeping the skin clean and dry
- Living in a wet or warm environment
- Wearing non-breathable footwear
- Wearing tight clothing
- Having a weak immune system
- Contact with infected animals
- Sharing shoes, bedding, clothing, and towels
- Common symptoms of fungal infection
Signs & Symptoms of Fungal Infections
The symptoms of fungus in the body can range from mild to very serious. They also depend on the on the exact type of that has cause the infection. Some of the common symptoms of an internal fungal infection include:
- Muscle aches or joint pain
- Asthma symptoms
- Chest pain
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
Common symptoms of fungal infection on the skin include:
- Intense itching
- Scaly skin
The most common fungal diseases are fungal nail infections, ringworm, vaginal candidiasis, and the candida infection of the throat, mouth, and esophagus. Blastomycosis, histoplasmosis, Valley Fever, and cryptococcus gattii infection affect people who live or travel to certain areas. Candidiasis, Aspergillosis, candida auris infection, Pneumocysctis Pneumonia (PCP), Murcomycosis, Talaromycosis, invasive candidiasis, and Cryptococcus neoformans infection affect people with weak immune systems. Fungi can also cause fungal eye infection, Mycetoma, and Sporotrichosis.
Diagnosing Fungal Infections
A fungal infection diagnosis involves a physical exam and a discussion of the symptoms that you are experiencing. If you have a fungal skin infection, you doctor might take a scrapping of your skin and send it to the lab to determine the cause of the infection. Your doctor can also ask for your hair sample and nail clippings for further analysis. If you have an internal fungal infection, your doctor may require samples of your blood, urine, vaginal secretions, mucus, or Cerebrospinal fluid depending on your symptoms. The doctor can also take a biopsy of the affected organ and order an X-ray to determine the type of infection and amount of tissue damage respectively.
Home Remedies for Fungal Infection
Fungal skin infections are common. Most of them aren’t usually dangerous, but they can cause irritation and discomfort due to itchy skin or scaly red skin. If not treated, the rash may become more irritated and spread. Here are some of the scientifically proven home remedies for treating fungal infections.
1. Yogurt and Probiotics
Yogurt can help treat fungal infections. It contains lactobacilli that can effectively slow or inhibit the growth of fungi. It is also rich in probiotics that help strengthen the immune system. According to some recent studies, yogurt is more effective in fighting fungal infections than some antifungal creams such as clotrimazole (Canesten).
Garlic has both antibacterial and antifungal products. Recent studies are showing that fresh aqueous extract of garlic is effective against some Aspergillus spp. You can treat a toenail fungus by placing crushed or chopped cloves of garlic on the affected area for about 30 minutes daily. To treat the infection from the inside out and to have a less smelly experience, you should consider using garlic capsules.
3. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera has anti-fungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. According to recent studies, this wonder plant contains six aseptic agents that provide anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral activities. It also has cooling properties that can help soothe the skin and reduce itching. If you have patches of ringworm infection on your skin, applying Aloe Vera gel to the affected area can help speed up the healing process. Internal consumption of this plant can help increase the number of white blood cells that help the body fight yeast infections from within.
4. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is very rich in antimicrobial. You can apply it topically to treat fungal infections on the skin. You can also drink it to treat fungal urinary tract infections. If you have a toenail fungus, you can treat it by soaking your leg for 10 to 15 minutes in an apple cider vinegar bath twice a day until the infection subsides. Remember, it can take up to three or more weeks to see improvements in symptoms.
5. Neem oil
Neem leaf and its constituents have both antifungal and antibacterial properties. Its extract can help removes pathogens and dermophytes from the skin. If you have a fungal infection, acne, wart, or moles on your skin, you can use undiluted neem oil. All you need is to use a cotton swab or cotton ball to dab the oil in the infected area and allow it to soak for about 20 minutes before washing with warm water. Repeat until the symptoms subside.
6. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is effective in killing certain species of fungi. That is because it contains medium-chain fatty acids that act as a fungicide. According to recent studies, coconut oil is effective against Candida albicans in the GI tract. Dietary coconut oil can help inhibit the growth of C. Albicans and reduce the risk of GI colonization.
7. Cranberry juice
Cranberry is one of the best remedies for urinary tract infections. It helps prevent the formation of C. Albican that causes most yeast infections. The juice has a substance that prevents fungi from sticking to mucous membranes. The juice can also help balance urine PH levels to prevent the growth of microorganisms. For better results, you should drink cranberry juice plain without any additives. That is because some additives can affect its PH and make it lose some of its anti-fungal properties.
Turmeric contains curcumin that has antimicrobial effects. According to recent Brazilian research, curcumin can effectively inhibit the growth of Candida albican and several other disease-causing fungal strains. You can either add turmeric to your meal. You can also apply it to the affected area. To do this, combine turmeric with a small amount of water and mix until it forms a paste.
If you have tried the above remedies and the fungal infection doesn’t go away within two to three weeks, you should consider talking to your doctor. Remember, seeking medication early increases the chances for a successful recovery. Learn how to boost your immune system naturally.
Preventing Skin Fungal Infections
Every person is at risk of developing a fungal infection. There are are a few simple things that you can do to lower your risk of developing a fungal infection. Preventing skin fungal infections is easier that treating them. Here are some of things that you can do to prevent a skin fungal infection from developing:
- Practice good hygiene
- Avoid sharing personal items like towels and clothing
- Avoid tight shoes and clothes
- Disinfect shared surfaces like gym equipment and mats
- Dry off properly with a clean towel after bathing, swimming, or showering
- Wear clean underwear and socks
- Wear flip flops or sandals in locker rooms instead of walking bare foot.