A fungal infection, or fungal disease, occurs when fungi infest the body and cause symptoms and complications that are harmful to health. The vast majority of fungi in nature are not dangerous, and some naturally occur on and in your body every day. But in some instances, the fungi can act as toxins inside the body and cause harm. These situations can be mild, such as a rash or a minor respiratory infection, or they can be severe, such as fungal pneumonia or a blood infection.
Fungal infections can occur in a variety of situations, but some scenarios make people more prone to a fungal infection than others. For example, those with a compromised immune system, such as people with cancer or HIV/AIDs, may be more likely than others to develop a fungal infection such as cryptococcosis or aspergillosis. Also, fungal infections are becoming more common in hospital settings because fungi are evolving to become resistant to medications. And, certain fungi that are present in the soil and in the environment can cause infections in people.
Types of Fungal Infections
There are many types of fungal infections, and they invade different parts of the body and cause different symptoms. Aspergillosis, for example, is a disease caused by an airborne fungus that people breathe in every day, but some with compromised immunity have trouble with it. Blastomycosis is a potential infection caused by fungus found commonly in the soil. Candidiasis is a common one that causes thrush in the mouth, though it can affect other parts of the body as well. Dermatophytes can cause ringworm on the skin, hair or nails.
Antifungal medications are available in oral and topical formulations to treat a fungal infection when it occurs. In severe instances, stronger medications or even hospitalization may be required.
SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention