A fungal infection can be either opportunistic or primary. Opportunistic fungal infections occur in people who are already ill. They typically have a weakened immune system, like that of an AIDS patient. Opportunistic infections tend to be aggressive. They can spread quickly to other organs and thus kill the patient. Opportunistic fungal infections can be found all over the world.
Primary fungal infections attack people who have normal immune systems. They tend to develop more slowly than opportunistic fungal infections, with some taking years to affect the patient. While they can make people seriously ill, they are generally not able to reach organs deep within the body.
While opportunistic fungal infections are global, primary fungal infections are restricted to certain geographic areas. Blastomycosis, for example, is a fungal infection seen mainly in the central and eastern United States. It can also occur in parts of Canada and Africa.
Localized fungal infections affect only specific parts of the body. They sometimes occur when the natural balance within the body is thrown out of whack. For instance, helpful bacteria in the digestive tract feed on the fungi that also live there and keep their population under control. If someone takes an antibiotic that kills the bacteria, the fungi can grow rapidly and cause a fungal infection.
Examples of Common Fungal Infections
Yeast infections are typically caused by a genus of yeast called Candida, and they are therefore sometimes also called candidiasis. The infections generally occur in warm, moist areas. They are most common in the mouth, genitals, throat, skin or blood. Yeast infections in the mouth or throat are sometimes called thrush. A yeast infection on a baby’s bottom is called diaper rash. A yeast infection in the blood is called candidemia, or invasive candidiasis.
Athlete’s foot is caused by several types of fungi belonging to the dermatophyte family, some of which can also cause ringworm and jock itch. The fungi feed on keratin and like living in warm, moist environments. Unlike many fungal infections, athlete’s foot is somewhat contagious and can be spread either by direct contact or by skin particles on floors, shoes or towels. Symptoms of athlete’s foot include redness, blisters, itching and/or burning, scaling, cracking or peeling of the feet.
With offices in Manhattan, Atlantic Highlands, Fresno and Hanford, Rao Dermatology has a variety of options for treating a fungal infection. During a consultation with our medical expert, we can help come up with a treatment plan that is customized to meet your needs. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.