Is there a fungus among us?
When you hear the word fungus, you may think of mushrooms growing on a wet tree trunk, mold on old bread, or mildew at the back of the refrigerator, but that’s not it. Did you know that there are up to 1.5 million species of fungi, approximately 300 of which can cause illness in people?
Is There a Fungus Among Us?
Fungi in the form of yeast, mold, or mildew are found just about everywhere, including in the air, in soil, on plants and trees, and in water. Some types live on human skin. Fungi thrive in cool moist areas like the basement and in between walls.
Fungi grow by shedding tiny spores (think of plant seeds) in the air. These spores can land on your skin or you can inhale them. There are higher concentrations of fungal spores in the air in certain locations that are moist, cool, and dark, such as construction or demolition sites, old barns, or dark caves.
What’s a Fungal Infection?
Since fungi can be inhaled or live on your skin, fungal infections can occur in the lungs or on the skin. Most infections, however, do not go beyond the skin, and are termed “superficial.” These superficial fungal infections can affect areas like nails, skin, and hair, and might include athlete’s foot or vaginal yeast infections. Fungal skin infections are generally harmless, and can be treated with medication.
It’s important to note that most people can breathe in fungal spores without getting an infection; however, those with weakened immune systems or lung disease can more easily develop fungal infections in the lung, blood, or other organs including the sinuses, liver, spleen, and brain. Examples of people with weakened immune systems include those with HIV/AIDS or cancer, who are hospitalized or are taking medications that suppress the immune system (e.g., steroids or chemotherapy). Fungal infections of the blood, lung, or other organ are called “systemic” infections and are generally more serious than superficial infections.
Infection Causing Fungus
Millions of species of fungus exist on earth but out of them, only 300 cause infections in humans. Most of these 300 fungal infections are also skin infections. A fungal infection is very different from a bacterial or viral infection because of its characteristics. Fungal infections result in discoloration of the skin, are scaly and itchy if not necessarily painful. Ranging from vaginal yeast infections to oral thrush, they can occur on any part of the body.
Most extensively known fungal infections are ringworm, jock itch, and athlete’s foot which are the same kind of infection appearing on different areas of the body.
Causes of a Fungal Infection
Fungal infections can occur due to multiple reasons. The most common reasons for a fungal infection are damp and unbreathable clothing or footwear, which becomes the perfect spot for the breeding of fungus.
Sharing clothing items with others, perspiring heavily, and a weakened immune system are an invitation for skin infections including fungal infections.
Natural disinfection of the fungus is easier than that of bacteria or a virus. Funguses exist on damp and wet environments and grow, including skin, clothing, and other hard or soft surfaces. To disinfect, all you need to do is wash and clean yourself, and the other materials in use regularly.
Natural disinfectants can play a vital role when it comes to cleanliness against funguses. Funguses can develop almost anywhere if the place stays wet for a while and the tiny spores can spread everywhere including air!
Treating and Preventing Fungal Infections
Prevention is better than cure, this is why infection prevention is imperative. When you develop a fungal infection, the first thing you need to do is keeping it clean and washing your handing regularly while also disposing of the wound’s dressing properly.
If mishandled, the fungus or the fluid from the wound containing fungus can go on to hide in your clothing. Though fungal infections are not fatal, they can be itchy, disturbing, and look ugly, so why compromise your confidence?
Using natural disinfectants or tough cleaners can aid in your fight against funguses. The better the prevention, the lesser chances of fungus living in your house, car, office, and on the body!
Treating the funguses is easier and the infection can be cured within a matter of few days usually. Your doctor may prescribe creams or ointments, pills, powders, sprays, and medicated shampoos to treat fungal infections.
If you get a fungal infection once, it is unlikely to develop it again, if you disinfect and clean properly. However, even if you get it more than once, the use of the same O-T-C medicine can get rid of the infection.
At the end of the day, infection prevention is the best remedy!