There is a lot of fungus among us – Are you prepared?
10th October 2012
When you hear the word ‘fungus’, you may immediately think of a mushroom. This wouldn’t be a major surprise – after all, a mushroom is one type of fungus. However, there are other types of fungi, and they are present in every one of us. In particularly, they are known as dermatophytes and yeasts; groups of fungi that are usually quite harmless to us. However problems arise when fungi multiply from small spores in the air. The spores can either be inhaled or they can come into contact with your skin. Therefore, a fungal infection (also known as a ‘mycosis’), will often begin either in the lungs or on the skin. Fungal skin infections typically affect the skin because thrive on keratin, a particular protein that in in our skin, hair and nails. Fungal infections in humans can differ drastically in their severity from common, mild superficial infections such as athlete's foot and thrush (both vaginal and oral) to more dangerous life-threatening diseases such as invasive aspergillosis. Here are some common types of fungal skin infections that you need to be aware of: . Athlete’s foot The name shouldn’t fool you; anyone can get the itchy condition known as athlete’s foot, which also goes by the aliases tinea pedis or ringworm of the foot. Symptoms to be aware of include: blisters, itchy skin, flaky and red skin and the appearance of white cracks – especially between the toes. It is commonly transmitted in moist areas where people usually walk around barefoot. Hazardous areas include around swimming pools, public showers and changing rooms. Walking barefoot can result in you getting the fungus of athlete’s foot or by using a damp towel that has the fungus on it. These are precise reasons why parents will usually tell their children to always make sure to wear sandals or appropriate footwear when showering in in public place. As the fungi thrive in a moist environment, make sure you keep feet and footwear as dry as possible and do not share towels with others. Also do not wear tight shoes that cause result in sweaty feet.  For treatment and prevention of athlete’s foot, most people opt for Daktarin 2% cream. Daktarin belongs to a collection of medicines known as ‘antifungals’, effectively working to eradicate the fungus responsible for the infection and also some of bacteria that may be there as well. Not just for feet though, the cream can help with infections that appear on the groin, hands, outer ear and scalp. . Nail infections Fungal infection of the nails is surprisingly more common than you think. It is believed that it will effect roughly between 3 and 8 out of every 100 people in the UK during some point of their lives. In fact, around half of all nail problems are down to fungal infection. Many types of fungus cause nail infections such as the previously mentioned athlete’s foot, which usually makes it way to the toenails. In addition, ‘candida’ is a yeast that can cause a skin infection commonly around the fingernails. Even worse is that you may get a nail infection after a toenail infection has already been established and you scratch at it. A nail infection is noticeable when the nail appears thickened and discoloured (a greeny-yellow colour), often initially painless. Without treatment such as Curanail 5% nail lacquer, the nail will look ghastly and may even crumble away eventually. Curanail contains amorolfine, which is clinically proven to kill a variety of fungi. Amorolfine works by stopping the production of ergosterol, an essential component of the fungal cell membrane. Without ergosterol, the cell membrane breaks down and the fungi are destroyed. . Thrush Thrush is an infection caused by a yeast-like fungus named ‘Candida albicans’.  Common in women, it is believed that three out of four women will have thrush at some point in their life. A lot of women have candida fungus in their vagina without experiencing any symptoms from it. There are ‘friendly’ vaginal bacteria as well as hormones in vaginal secretions that both keep the candida under control. The problems begin when this natural balance is disturbed and the candida begin to multiply. Thrush develops for several reasons which may include:  if you are pregnant, taking certain antibiotics, undergoing chemotherapy, use bathroom products that may cause irritation of the vagina, have diabetes, or have a weakened immune system.  Some people who have thrush may not even be aware of it due to the fact symptoms do not always show. For women, thrush may be spotted via a vaginal examination for a cervical screening test. However, for both genders, typical symptoms include pain when passing urine, a thick discharge and irritation such as itching. A popular and greatly effective treatment for vaginal and penile thrush is Canesten Oral and Cream Duo - A single, fast-acting Canesten Oral capsule, to help clear the infection and a tube of Canesten 2% thrush cream to immediately cool the external symptoms. There are certain steps you can take to reduce your chances of catching a fungal skin infection or stop it from spreading, such as: . Keep your body, nails, hair and scalp clean and dry, preventing the ideal conditions for fungus to grow in. . Do not share towels, shoes, combs or other items of clothing with others that could be carrying fungi, and always be sure to change your socks on a daily basis. . When you are in any damp communal areas; wear clean flip-flops or plastic shoes. Examples of such places include: showers, saunas and swimming pools. . Wash clothes and bedding on a regular basis to remove any potential fungi. . If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar levels under control. Medical Specialists Pharmacy hope you now feel more equipped to understand what exactly a fungal infection is and how to spot them should you ever develop one. Fortunately we have all three products mentioned earlier available to purchase from our chemist shop; Daktarin 2% cream (for athlete’s foot), Curanail 5% nail lacquer (for nail infections) and Canesten Oral and Cream Duo (for thrush). We are constantly adding products to our massive range of prescription medications and chemist shop items, so make sure to regularly check the Medical Specialists website for the latest products and exciting offers.