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Fungal infections : Types, Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms , Diagnosis and Treatment - Microbiology

May 10, 2023

Fungal infections : Types,Causes,Risk Factors,Symptoms ,Diagnosis and Treatment. - Microbiology

Mycosis, often known as a fungal infection, is a condition brought on by a fungus (yeast or mould). Although fungi (plural of fungus) can cause infections in your mouth, throat, lungs, urinary tract, and many other parts of your body, fungus infections are most frequently found on your skin or nails.

Read this blog further to get a quick overview of this important topic for microbiology preparation and ace your NEET PG exam preparation.

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What are Fungi?

Living organisms that are not considered to be part of either plants or animals are fungi. They disperse or release spores (reproductive components) into the environment to migrate about. Numerous fungi naturally exist in our bodies (mouth, GI tract, skin), but they have the potential to overgrow. Although there are reportedly millions of fungi in the world, only a small fraction of them are known to be harmful to humans. This also applies to specific yeasts and moulds.

How does a Fungus Infection Appear?

Skin infections appear  as rough,red and puffy. You might be able to see a lump under your skin or they may resemble a rash. Your nails may get discolored due to a fungus infection.

What are the Risk factors for Fungal Infection ?

A fungal infection can affect anyone, especially if it affects your skin or nails. On your body, areas with high friction or moisture retention are more prone to fungus infections. If you have diabetes, poor circulation, poor immune function, or any of the following conditions, you are more susceptible to infection, especially serious infections:

  • the disease or its therapies.
  • Immunosuppressive drugs (for organ, stem cell, or bone marrow transplants or autoimmune disorders).

How dangerous is a Fungus Infection?

The most typical fungal infections, such as those that affect your skin or nails, are typically not dangerous. You run a higher chance of developing a serious illness from specific fungal infections if your immune system is compromised.

Types of Fungal Infections

A fungus can infect your skin, nails, or mucous membranes on the outside of your body (superficial or mucocutaneous infections), beneath your skin (subcutaneous infections), or inside other organs like your heart, lungs, or brain (deep infections).

Skin-Deep Fungi Infections

Your nails, skin, and mucous membranes (such as those in your mouth, throat, or vagina) can become infected with superficial fungi. 

Superficial Skin Infections

  1. Dermatophytosis (ringworm). Ringworm is brought on by a class of fungus called dermatophytes, which feed on skin, hair, and nail cells. They can affect your hands (tinea manuum), your scalp (tinea capitis), your groin and inner thighs (tinea pedis/athlete's foot), your facial hair and the skin around it (tinea barbae), and other parts of your body (tinea corporis).
  2. Onychomycosis. Onychomycosis is an infection of the fingernails or toenails caused by a variety of fungus. This may result in broken and discolored nails.
  3. Candidiasis. Candida (often Candida albicans) causes candidiasis, an infection of the skin and mucous membranes (mucocutaneous). These include candidal intertrigo, esophageal candidiasis, some forms of diaper rash, vaginal yeast infections (vulvovaginitis), and oral thrush.
  4. With tinea versicolor, pityriasis. The fungus Malassezia causes tinea versicolor, also known as pityriasis versicolor, which is a darkening of the skin.

 Subcutaneous Skin Infections

You may get a fungal infection (subcutaneous infection) if fungus penetrates a cut or wound, typically as a result of an injury experienced while working with plants (such as a scratch from a thorn). They cause rashes, ulcers, and other symptoms on the skin. These  infections are more common in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Examples include:

  • Sporotrichosis, often known as rose gardener's disease. The sporothrix fungus causes sporotrichosis. The lungs or other body organs may also be impacted by sporotrichosis.
  • Chromoblastomycosis. Numerous fungi have the potential to cause chromoblastomycosis. It could lead to chronic (lasting) skin infections. Rarely does it spread to different body parts.
  • Eumycetoma. There are various fungi that can cause eumycetoma. Usually, your feet will be most negatively impacted.

Deep Fungal Infections

Deep fungal infections can also affect organs other than your skin, such as your lungs, blood, urinary system, or brain. Because some infections are opportunistic, they typically only cause illness in people with already weakened immune systems.

Deep or invasive fungal infections include:

  • Histoplasmosis. Your lungs, brain, or other organs may become infected by the fungus Histoplasma, which causes histoplasmosis. It frequently occurs in the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
  • (Coccidioidomycosis) Valley fever. The fungus Coccidioides causes coccidioidomycosis, which can harm your lungs and, in rare instances, spread to other parts of your body. It is most common in Arizona and California.
  • Blastomycosis. The fungus that causes blastomycosis, called blastomyces, frequently affects your bones, skin, and lungs. Rarely, it may also infect your spinal cord and brain.
  • Aspergillosis. A number of lung infections, including allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) and chronic pulmonary aspergillosis, can be brought on by Aspergillus, the mould that causes aspergillosis. It may also cause an aspergilloma (a fungus ball) or spread to other areas of your body.
  • Urinary tract infection caused by yeast. Most urinary tract infections (UTIs) are brought on by bacteria, however others are brought on by yeast like Candida.
  • Invasion of candida. Invasive candidiasis is brought on by many Candida species. Your heart, blood (candidemia), brain, eyes (endophthalmitis), bones, or other body components may become infected with it.
  • Pneumonia caused by Pneumocystis. Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PJP) is a lung infection brought on by the fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii.
  • Mucormycosis. Mucormycosis is brought on by a class of moulds known as mucormycetes. Mucormycetes can infect your skin (cutaneous mucormycosis), lungs (pulmonary mucormycosis), intestines (gastrointestinal mucormycosis), sinuses (rhinocerebral mucormycosis), cutaneous mucormycosis, cutaneous mucormycosis and many sections of your body simultaneously (disseminated mucormycosis).
  • Cryptococcosis. Cryptococcosis is brought on by Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii. When they cause cryptococcal meningitis, they can also infect your brain and spinal cord in addition to your lungs.

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What are Symptoms of Fungal Infection?

The type of fungal infection you have and where on your body it is located will determine your symptoms. The skin, nails, or mucous membranes (such as the mouth, throat, or vagina) are where symptoms are most frequently found. You may occasionally experience signs of an infection in your sinuses, brain, eyes, intestines, or lungs.

Symptoms of External or Inside Infections

The following are some signs of superficial or subcutaneous infections:

In the affected area, there may be rash, itching, or soreness.

cracked, thick, or discolored nails.

White patches in the tongue or throat, taste loss, or discomfort during eating.

A smooth, under-the-skin bump.

Fungal Infections of Lungs

Fungal infections of lungs gives following symptoms:

  • Cough, occasionally spitting blood.
  • drowsiness or fatigue.
  • Fever.
  • Respiration difficulty.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Joint discomfort.
  • Headache.
  • Sweats during night.
  • Additional signs of fungus infections
  • Symptoms of fungal infections in other parts of the body appears as:
  • Headache, fever, neck pain, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and confusion are symptoms of a fungus in or around the brain.
  • Eye fungus symptoms include pain, redness, discharge, impaired vision, weeping, and light sensitivity.
  • Symptoms of an intestinal fungus infection include nausea, vomiting, and pain in the abdomen.
  • Fever, nasal congestion, headaches, one-sided facial puffiness, and face pain are all symptoms of a sinus fungus infection.

What  are the Causes Fungal Infections?

Yeast, mould, and other fungi can cause fungus infections. Only a small percentage of fungi can make people sick by infecting them. Some infections are opportunistic, which means they frequently do not cause infections but can take advantage of particular situations, like an immune system that is weak.Several common fungi can cause infections in people, including:

Dermatophytes. The outer layer of skin, nails, and hair are all made of keratin, which is the food source for a group of fungi called dermatophytes. They do not infect living tissue.

Candida. Your body naturally contains Candida albicans, a yeast that rarely causes problems. Under certain conditions, it might expand excessively, which can cause redness and irritation. Sometimes, it can lead to life-threatening infections.

Environmental fungus that dwell in water or soil. Examples include Histoplasma, Coccidioides, Blastomyces, and Aspergillus.

How do Fungal Infections Spread?

Typical methods of acquiring fungi infections include:

  1. From moist public areas like bathrooms and locker rooms.
  2. Through an injury or a break in your skin.
  3. By breathing in fungus that is present in the environment (like dust or soil).
  4. Antibiotic use can cause some fungi that normally inhabit your body to proliferate out of control.
  5. Some dermatophyte infections can be contracted through close contact with an infected person or animal.

Diagnosis of Fungal Infections

The location of the fungal disease on your body affects how your doctor identifies it. It's possible that they'll try to develop (culture) fungus using samples of your:

  • Skin or other tissue that is harmed.
  • (Nail clipping) Nails.
  • Blood.
  • Sputum (phlegm).
  • CNS fluid, the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord.
  • Urine, or pee.
  • Secretions from your eye fluid.
  • Vaginal dripping.
  • X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans may be ordered if your doctor suspects you have a fungal infection in your lungs, brain, or another internal organ.

Treatment of Fungal Infections

Antifungal medication, which kills fungus on and in your body, can treat many fungal illnesses. Depending on where the fungus is, your doctor may prescribe a variety of drugs.

Before treating a fungal infection, it's a good idea to consult with your provider. Some medicines may be available over-the-counter (OTC). Your healthcare practitioner could provide an antifungal medication in the following forms to treat a fungal disease:

  • Tablets for oral medicine.
  • Drug administered intravenously (IV) at a hospital or doctor's office.
  • Cream, lotion, or powder.
  • Lozenges or mouthwash.
  • Drops for the eyes.
  • Shampoo.

Ways of Prevention from Fungal Infection

Practise proper personal hygiene and shield yourself from environmental fungus as ways to lower your chance of contracting certain fungal illnesses. To prevent fungal infections, consider the following:

  • After being sweaty or dirty, take a shower. Don't let any parts of your skin get too wet.
  • In public restrooms, showers, or locker rooms, avoid wearing bare feet.
  • Put on some fresh, dry, cotton pants.
  • Keep your mouth and teeth clean.
  • As advised by your eye doctor, clean and wear contact lenses.
  • Keep your fingernails neat and short.
  • Take antibiotics only as directed. Yeast can overgrow in your body and result in an infection if you take antibiotics for an extended period of time.
  • Don't let others use your towels, athletic equipment, or other personal goods.
  • Put on protective clothing before dealing with soil.
  • When working with soil, put on safety gear such as gloves, boots, long pants and long sleeved shirts. If you reside in a region where hazardous fungus is frequently found, wear a N95 mask to prevent breathing it in.
  • Wear a mask or stay inside during dust storms if you live somewhere where the soil contains dangerous fungi.


Whether you have underlying conditions and the location of the infection on your body will determine what to anticipate when you have a fungal infection. Hair, skin, and nail fungus infections are often not dangerous, although therapy may take some time to fully resolve. Deep fungal infections, such as those in the lungs or other organs, can be fatal, especially if your immune system is already compromised.

This is everything that you need to know about fungal infections for your microbiology preparation. For more interesting and informative blog posts like this download the PrepLadder App and keep reading our blog!

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