What is a fungal infection?
A fungal infection is typically an overgrowth of a fungus on a localised area of the body such as the nails or scalp, that causes symptoms of inflamed skin or reddening. Sometimes the overgrowth may belong to a fungus that is not usually present on the body but has since colonised an area of skin after coming into contact with it. Alternatively, it may belong to a fungus that is already present in the body but has since overpopulated out of control. Fungal infections are a common health condition that can be easily treated and prevented.
Commonly experienced fungal infections
Fungal infections can take several different forms affecting different areas of the body. These include:
- Ringworm (tinea corporis) - affecting the body
- Fungal nail infection (onychomycosis) - affecting the nails
- Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) - affecting the feet
- Jock itch (tinea cruris) - affecting the groin
- Tinea capitis - affecting the scalp
- Genital thrush (genital candidiasis) - affecting the genitals
- Oral thrush (oral candidiasis) - affecting the mouth
What causes a fungal infection?
There are various causes of fungal infections but they are generally caused by fungal spores. Fungal spores can be spread between people through contact of the skin and by sharing clothing or bedding. Fungal spores (such as those that cause athlete’s foot) may be present in places with high humidity such as gyms and swimming pool changing rooms. If a pet has ringworm, the owner may catch it by stroking them. Oral thrush may have different causes such as poor oral hygiene or a recent course of antibiotics.
What are the symptoms of a fungal infection?
The symptoms of a fungal infection may include a red or silvery ring-shaped rash on the skin or on the affected areas, peeling or cracking of the skin, itching and a stinging/burning sensation on the infected areas. Genital and oral thrush may present different symptoms; genital thrush is usually characterised by itching, soreness and redness around the genitals, as well as a white discharge from the vagina or penis. Oral thrush usually presents symptoms such as white patches in the mouth and burning sensations or pain around the mouth region.
Are fungal infections contagious?
The level of contagion for each type of fungal infection varies. Most external fungal infections are contagious and spread through touching of the skin, sharing contaminated clothing or bedding, and possibly through touching contaminated pets or animals. Typically, oral and genital thrush are not contagious. It should also be noted that genital thrush is not a sexually transmitted infection, despite appearing after sexual intercourse in some cases.
How do you get rid of a fungal infection?
Sometimes fungal infections can clear up without the need of treatment. For a faster and more effective solution, there are antifungal medications you can take depending on the type of fungal infection you may have. Topical treatments such as branded Canesten 1% External Cream and its generic form Clotrimazole 1% External are effective medications for external fungal infection and thrush symptoms. Daktarin is another popular treatment option, along with branded Curanail and its generic counterpart Amorolfine, which are used to treat fungal nail infections. Daktarin Oral Gel is effective at managing the internal symptoms of oral thrush, whilst the internal symptoms of genital thrush can be treated through branded Diflucan tablets or generic Fluconazole, as well as Canesten Internal Cream.