Any infection can be caused by a fungus, although in general fungal infections are less common than either bacterial or viral infections. Some common infections are almost always fungal infections, like athleteâ€™s foot, vaginal yeast infections, and jock itch, ringworm, diaper rash.
When fungus causes an infection it is often harder to get rid of than a bacterial or viral infection. Another important thing to note about fungal infections is that they are contagious (whereas other infections are sometimes (mis)identified as being no longer contagious after a certain stage or amount of time).
External fungal infections are usually caught through contact with the skin, and fostered by warm, damp places. Gyms, public showers, pools, and other similar places are breeding grounds for fungus, so wear appropriate attire (flip flops, for example) and clean yourself and your garments afterward. Good hygiene is the best way to prevent an external fungal infection; exfoliating, for example, may help as fungus likes to live on dead skin tissue.
Internal fungal infections are usually caught from spores breathed into the lungs. From the lungs a fungal infection can spread to other organs. People with weakened immune systems either from age, another disease, or medical treatments like antibiotics are more prone to develop a fungal infection. The gastrointestinal tract is particularly prone to fungal infection if the good bacteria die off, or if you are taking antibiotics (which are fungus based and kill bacteria). Good bacteria, which can be replenished by taking probiotics, live in the GI Tract and on the skin and fight off fungus.
External fungus infections symptoms:
- Often begin as redness; ringworm appears in a red â€œbullâ€™s eyeâ€ pattern. Other fungal infections may be spotty. Redness may spread.
- Physical sensations may include burning and itching. (Donâ€™t itch–you risk spreading the infection).
- More invasive fungal infections target hair follicles and nail beds.
- It may peel, crack, or become scaly, especially if on the foot or between toes. Fungus likes dead skin and the warmth/moisture of feet. Wear socks, wash, and exfoliate to help prevent athleteâ€™s foot and other toe fungus.
- Infected nails may swell and separate away from the nail bed. Theyâ€™ll also appear yellow.
- Sometimes there may be blisters or sores (with clear fluid). If fungus penetrates into deeper layers of skin, it will become far more difficult to treat. Look for natural antifungal creams that will fight the fungus while protecting skin.
Wash frequently, as itâ€™s contagious to both you (in other, more sensitive parts of your body) and others (including your pets). Yeast infections are not contagious.
Generally, lab results are the only way to confirm an infection is fungal, though some internal infections will show specific symptoms:
- White patches, as in Thrush, a yeast infection in the mouth.
- Pain or discomfort at the site of the infection.
- Vaginal yeast infections cause white or yellow discharge, itching, burning, and external redness.
- Prolonged GI Tract problems (that arenâ€™t diagnosed as a specific disease, like IBS) may be caused by fungus/yeast.
Traditional medical antifungals generally have severe side-effects, depending on the dosage prescribed. Usually, itâ€™s the GI Tract that suffers, as the good bacteria die off and digestion is disrupted and other pathogens get in without a fight. Stronger antifungals have stronger side-effects (they can be very bad for your liver), and can even be lethal.
Alternatively, look for natural products that contain antifungals like grapefruit seed extract, garlic, citric acids, and colloidal silver. Take plenty of probiotics to replenish your natural bacteria supply. See a doctor if sensitive organs are affected (as with a vaginal yeast infection).