Taking the “Fun” Out of Fungus – Getting Rid of Fungal Infections

Did you hear about the woman who dated a mushroom? She heard he was a real “fun guy” to be with. If you are spending too much time around any fungi of your own, it may be time to see your dermatologist. Fungal infections are nothing to laugh about (much like the aforementioned joke), and in some cases they can be either debilitating or disgusting – or often a combination of the two.

If the thought of having a fungus growing on your body makes you feel a bit queasy, there’s probably a reason. The bad news is that fungal infections aren’t any fun; the good news is that they can be relatively easily treated.

If the thought of having a fungus growing on your body makes you feel a bit queasy, there’s probably a reason. The bad news is that fungal infections aren’t any fun; the good news is that they can be relatively easily treated. So if you have an infection on your body caused by a fungus, do something about it – quick!

What is a Fungus?

A fungus is a certain type of organism belonging to the fungus kingdom, which has more than 80,000 species (but sadly, no king or queen). Fungi are notoriously difficult to characterize, especially as they share traits with both plants and animals, although they lack both chlorophyll and vascular tissue. They can multiply both sexually and asexually (by cloning themselves), and they feed on many different types of organic material, ones that are both living and dead.

Many things fall under the classification of fungi, including mushrooms, toadstools, spores, smuts, yeasts, molds and lichens, to name but a few. Some people choose to call fungi “primitive vegetables”, and as such they are able to live in air, soil, on plants or in water. Often, they live on our skin.

Fungal infections are caused by a harmful fungus (about half of all fungi fall into this category) which has infected your skin or has been breathed in by you and invaded your lungs, and they can appear in many different forms. Often it’s difficult to ascertain whether a specific health complaint is caused by a fungal infection or not; this is where a dermatologist can be helpful in making an accurate diagnosis.

General Fungal Infections

Fungal infections are incredibly common and can happen to anyone, regardless of personal hygiene – although poor hygiene can definitely contribute to burgeoning infections. Here are a few you are most likely to encounter…

* Athlete’s Foot. Also known as tinea pedis. Perhaps the most common fungal infection of all. Makes the foot red, itchy, scaly and often smelly. Occurs as the ringworm fungus loves feet, because they are so often encased in warm sweaty socks. This nice moist environment is a prime place for the fungus to thrive, and if not treated properly can even allow transfer to other parts of the body, such as the groin, nails, trunk etc. For some reason athlete’s foot is more common among men (boys, take note) and usually affects the area between the fourth and fifth toes (foot fetishists, take note).

* Nail Infections. Can begin as a small yellow or white spot underneath a fingernail, but then spreads. As it burrows deeper and deeper into your toenail or fingernail it can cause discoloration, thickening or crumbling, and can be incredibly painful. In some cases the nail will separate itself from the nail bed and an unpleasant odor can occur. Usually caused by a group of fungi called dermatophytes, sometimes caused by yeasts or molds. Can easily be picked up in swimming pools or other moist, warm places where fungi thrive, much like athlete’s foot.

* Scalp Ringworm. If your scalp is turning red, crusting and becoming incredibly itchy, there’s a chance you have scalp ringworm. This is fairly common among young children, and it’s estimated that 50 percent of all child hair loss is caused by this nasty fungus. It occurs primarily in one of three different guises: gray patch ringworm, black dot ringworm and inflammatory ringworm.

* Body Ringworm. Also known as tinea corporis. Usually occurs on parts of the body not covered by clothes, such as hands and face. Not as revolting as it seems as it not actually caused by a worm but by – surprise! – a fungus. Gets its name as it can cause a ring-shaped rash with scaly center. Can sometimes be passed on by cats although usually is passed on through human contact. So always wash your hands after stroking a feline… or a human.

* Lung fungal infection. Also known as aspergillosis, this fungus thrives in places such as air ducts and compost heaps, then it attacks your lungs. Can be most dangerous to people who have had lung disease in the past and therefore have cavities in their lungs which can become infected. However, this infection can be treated and does not usually spread outside the lung area.

Personal Fungal Infections

Also incredibly common, these fungal infections are the most unpleasant because they infect our most personal areas. Not to be confused with sexually-transmitted diseases, but they can be just as irritating – and sometimes even more so! And as the symptoms so often mimic those of STDs, sometimes it’s hard to tell between the two. That’s where a proper diagnosis by a doctor or dermatologist can be so important..

* Jock Itch. If you spend too much time flaunting a tight, wet Speedo on the beach in hot weather, chances are you’ll develop jock itch. This fungal infection of the groin can attack both men and women, but it more common among the boys. Heat and humidity are the biggest factors contributing to this irritating itch, although wearing tight clothing or being very overweight can play a role as well. Results in nasty red pustules that are uncomfortable and unsightly and require medical treatment. Also called Ringworm of the Groin.

* Vaginal Yeast Infections. Caused by an overgrowth of the Candida albicans fungus, this unpleasant infection can cause extreme itchiness around the vagina, as well as an unpleasant discharge and smell as well as occasional pain and burning. It’s estimated that ¾ of all women have at least one yeast infection in their lives, which can easily spread to sexual partners. Easily treated in the vast majority of cases.

Treatment of Fungal Infections

Most fungal infections are treated with anti-fungal medications, but along with the correct meds you should also wash regularly and keep the affected areas clean and dry. Following a strict skin-care regime is important to avoid re-infection, or infecting others. That means, depending on which type of infection you have, not sharing towels or combs, wearing flip-flops in changing areas or poolside, using an anti-fungal foot spray, wearing clean cotton socks and underwear and changing into clean cotton clothes regularly.

Here, in alphabetical order, are a few of the anti-fungal drugs you may be prescribed, follow the doctor or dermatologist’s instructions and let them know beforehand if you are taking any other medications:

* Clotrimazole
* Ciclopirox
* Fluconazole
* Itraconazole
* Ketoconazole
* Terbinafine Hydrochloride

Fungal infections can affect anyone, and if you have a busy, active lifestyle chances are you’ll come down with at least one – if not more – at some stage of your life. While fungal infections are never fun, there’s no need to suffer in silence, so if you have any of the above symptoms, get thee to a doctor pronto. You’ll have a new, fungal-free you in no time!

The information in the article is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care an appropriate health care provider.

Treatment for Ringworm in Humans – Are Anti-Fungal Medications Effective?

The treatment of ringworm in humans is often done by contact, or oral anti-fungal drugs. Those forms of treatment are effective, but the condition often comes back, since fungal bodies or spores are trapped inside dead skin cells, or inside hairs on the body. The good news is, there is a simple solution to counter this problem, and eliminate the infection permanently. Read on to learn more.

Manufacturers of such products do not want the patients to have a one-time fix. They want people to keep buying their products, and that’s one of the probable reasons why ringworm recurrence is so common, when the medical approach is used. Despite this, people keep trusting doctors, who do not know what they are doing, and as a result they suffer permanent scarring. The permanent scarring occurs, as the ringworm fungi produce certain toxins, which they use to defend themselves. That’s why it is important to think for yourself, and to do your own research when it comes to your own health. The treatment of ringworm in humans can either eliminate the problem permanently, or only kill fungi, that are located closely to the skin.

The best approach is to create an environment, where the fungi cannot function. Oral medications sometimes achieve that, but they need a long time to work, and the recurrence rate is still relatively high. The natural approach works better here. Usually, medications, manufactured by drug companies are more effective than any natural solution you can come up with, but there are exceptions – and ringworm happens to be one of them. Usually, fungal infections on the skin, affect regions where the skin is moist, such as inside the mouth. The ringworm though, can spread on dry skin, and that’s why the contact or oral medications are often unable to permanently eliminate the problem.

Allostasis and Addiction

The term addiction, in medical terminology means a psychiatric disorder manifested by unusual craving and compulsive indulgence of certain activities like drug addiction, alcohol addiction, gambling, video game, crime, money work addiction, overeating, nicotine or pornographic addiction. In fact there is no end of the list but since these substances or activities always brings negative impact on individual and social life; so they are specially earmarked. Addiction can also be described as a compulsive obsession and create excessive psychological dependence in addicts on their individual preference.

However, the term addiction is used commonly to mean psychological dependence and usually attached to drug or substance abuse problems. But it is also used for problems like compulsive overeating or alike; though medical communities do not recognize them as problems of addiction. There are addictions that are not substance related; like gambling and computer addiction. In these sorts of cases addiction means a recurring compulsion felt by individual to engage in some particular activity without considering its harmful consequences.

Different forms of addiction
In United States, the term “addiction” is not used in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Disorders (DSM -IV TR) instead it uses “substance dependence” for physical dependence, abuse of or withdrawal from any substances or drugs. The section Substance dependence states “…. When an individual persists in use of alcohol or other drugs despite problems related to use of the substance, substance dependence may be diagnosed. Compulsive and repetitive use may result in tolerance to the effect of the drug and withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or stopped. These, along with substance abuse are considered substance use disorders……..” Terminology is divided between psychiatrists and physicians; as former call this problem or disease as psychological dependence or addiction and the later as physical or substance dependence.

Now there is trend to distinguish between physical dependence characterized by withdrawal symptoms and psychological dependence manifested by “compulsive, uncontrolled use” with no harm being suffered by user or any one. Clinically it is termed as “compulsive” but not necessarily addiction.

There is a lesser known factor called pseudo-addiction. This occurs when a patient seeks drugs after being treated with that for longer period. This reflects psychological dependence or addiction but sometime it may happen so that the patient might have been under treated as well. Such cases are numerous when patients are treated with opiates drugs to relieve them from pains. Treating them adequately tends to remove such dependence. More studies are required for the effectiveness or substitutes of addictive drugs like opiates.

Allostasis : What is it?
When a person is inclined to drug or substance addiction, he or she then appears to enter a new state called allostatic state departing from normal levels of change in ordinary condition. Allostasis is a process of maintaining stability while changing behavior and physiological features. Drug addiction causes harm to the addict’s brain and body due to pathological state caused by damage known as allostatic load. The result of allostatic load is a state of constant depression stemming from allostatic changes. This forces the drug abusers to seek drugs before their brain and body returns to normal allostatic levels; thus producing a constant state of stress. It is observed that the presence of circumstantial stressors induce acute drug seeking tendencies.

Allostasis is a new concept proposed by Sterling and Eyer in 1988. This is a process that establishes the stability in an emergency and occurs endogenously in our physiological system to maintain balance. The word allostasis and homeostasis derived from original Greek words; “homeo” means “same” and stasis means “stable”; so homeostasis means “remaining stable by staying the same”. So with the word allostasis; in Greek “allo” means “variable” and statis means “stable”; so allostasis means ” remaining stable by being variable”. Allostasis is a process to achieve stability through physiological or behavioral change and this can be done by altering HPA axis ( hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) hormones, cytokines, autonomic nervous system or many other systems and they are generally short term.

The process of allostasis is fundamental and this helps organisms to adjust or adapt actively to predictable or unpredictable events of life. Allostatic loads refer to the cumulative cost; the allostasis body pays to regain stability. Allostatic overload may result in serious pathophysiology. There are two types of allostatic overloads proposed which result in response of followings:

Type – I: This is when allostatic overload is caused due to increased demand of energy exceeds the supply and that result in emergency life history stage. When perturbation passes normalcy restored decreasing allostatic load.

Type – II: Allostatic overloads occur when demand of energy increases with social conflict or any type of social dysfunction. In these cases the normalcy restored by secretion of glucocorticosteroids and activities of other allostasis mediators like CNS neurotransmitters, autonomic nervous system, inflammatory cytokines wax. However if allostatic loads remain chronically high then pathologies develop. It is something like this, if a dehydrated individual continue to be stressed despite being helped then he fails to reinstate the body function. This will result in wearing out of individual’s body. Though human body is adaptable but fails to bear allostatic overload for a very longer period without hazards.

The adaptogens may come in help to curb allostatic load. Adaptogens are herbal or pharmaceutical substance; they are non-toxic in regular doses and produce defensive response of nonspecific nature to stress. They restore normalcy in HPA axis. Adaptogens are new class of metabolic regulators for homeostatic and allostatic changes, toning down the hyperfunctioning systems activity or increasing hypofunctioning systems.

Allostasis and Drug Addictions
Drug addiction or substance dependence is a chronic disorder manifested by a compulsive tendency to take and seek drugs or substances to manage the levels of compulsion and desires brought on by allostatic overload. Continuous increase of intake raises the hedonic level and overtakes the individual by a negative emotional state when without them. Allostatic changes helps to identify the effects and causes of drug addiction in the neurobiological and neuroadaptive systems. The reward system of the brain in the event of drug addiction implicates some key elements of amygdale basal forebrain macrostructure. The change in stress and reward system of the brain appears to maintain stability in allostatic state in contradiction to homeostatic state; so this shows the development of susceptibility and recurrence of addiction. The allostatic state of longer abstinence is the most useful target for treating drug addiction through pharmacological and behavioral therapies. When dealing with recovery from addiction it’s important for the patient to be cognizant of the brain functions occurring and by being fully aware of how the component of allostasis relates to ones addiction.