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Fungal Infections of the Skin, Hair, and Nails

fungi microorganismsMajority of people are most knowledgeable when it comes to infections and ailments which are caused by viruses and bacteria, although a lot are unfamiliar that there is a plethora of diseases which are associated with fungi. A lot of these fungal infections target the human body’s largest organ: the skin.

Fungi are characterized as a group of microorganisms which possess some plantlike properties. Mushrooms, yeasts and molds are some of the known types of fungi. There are however 2 major ways in which fungi can be considered different from plants: first, the cell walls of fungi are composed mainly of chitin, not cellulose; and secondly, fungi do not have the capability to produce their food through the process of photosynthesis and thereby they thrive directly on whatever is their source of nourishment, such as the skin.

There are some fungal species which are categorized as mono-cellular organisms, while there are others which are more sophisticated in their make-up and exhibit compartmentalized cell functions. Fungi usually thrive in the soil, on both dead and living plants such as trees, and on human and animals alike. The spore of a fungus – where reproduction happens - can be spread through water, air or through direct contact.

plantsThe word “tinea” is the term used by most doctors to refer to some infections caused by a fungus which affects the skin. Fungal infections that are superficial in nature are found in the top most layers of the skin and the mucous membranes, the nails or the hair. Deeper types of fungal infections invade the deeper layers of the human skin and the hair follicles. These types of infection can spread to the internal organs or the blood. The following are some of the most common types of fungal infections:

1. Tinea – when this fungal infection affects the skin, it typically starts as a tiny red area the size f a pea. As the condition progresses, it spreads out in a ring or a circle. Tinea is more often called as ringworm since it may appear like small worms found under the skin. Since the fungi the cause ringworm thrives on various parts of the human body, it is names after the particular part of the body which they infect. Body ringworm affects the chest, arms or legs. Scalp ringworm affects the head.

laboratory test2. Candida – is a kind of yeast that is similar to a fungus. This microorganism most usually affects the skins which are found around the nails, or the soft and moist areas surrounding the body openings. One example of candida infection is the appearance of diaper rash in babies. Another example is thrush, which are white patches often appearing in the mouth of babies. Another yeast infection caused by candida is vaginal yeast infection appearing in older girls and women. This type of infection develops in and around the vagina.

3. Jock itch – is a type of fungal infection affecting the upper thighs and the groins. Both men and women alike get inflicted by these infection

4. Athlete’s foot – is another type of infection caused by fungi which is typically appearing in between the toes. This condition may also appear the toenails and the sides and bottoms of the feet.