An introduction to the causes of a fungal skin infection
Fungal spores are present almost everywhere – in the air you breathe, in the soil, on your pet’s fur and even on your skin.
These spores can be ingested through breathing or permeation of the skin, but some fungi are already naturally present in your body as yeasts.
In small amounts, these fungi are harmless, with some even aiding digestion in your gut, however when they start to reproduce too rapidly, it can have a detrimental effect on your skin and your immune system. Since fungal spores require specific conditions to enable their growth, a number of factors can contribute towards causing a fungal infection.
Although these variables can change depending on the type of fungal infection that you are suffering from, there are some overall issues that are responsible for fungal reproduction.
Weak immune system
Unfortunately, your immune system is so crucial to combatting different infections that any weakness can make or break how your body copes with invading pathogens.
This is why fungal infections are often prevalent in age groups with underdeveloped or vulnerable immune systems, namely the very young or the very old.
However, pre-existing health conditions such as stress, diabetes, hyperthyroidism or even a susceptibility to other skin conditions such as eczema, can all make you more liable to contracting fungal infections.
Nutrition can have noticeable effect on your susceptibility to fungal infections as well as the severity of your symptoms after you have contracted the skin disease. It has been mentioned that there is fungi present in your digestive tract, acting as yeast that helps you to break down certain food products during digestion.
However, the growth of this yeast is kept in check by the amounts of friendly bacteria in your intestines. When you eat sugary or processed foods, this feeds the bad bacteria in your gut, leading to a boom in fungal reproduction.
Therefore, if you want to reduce your symptoms or take preventative steps towards avoiding fungal infections altogether, it will be essential that you cut down your intake of trigger foods and focus on food products that encourage the growth of friendly bacteria in your gut.
Stress can place your immune system under an enormous amount of pressure.
When you experience stress, it stimulates your sympathetic nervous system and tricks your body into believing that you are in a life-threatening situation. Your immune system will release a wave of inflammatory chemicals to dilate your blood vessels and redirect nutrients to your major organs, like your heart and your lungs.
Your blood sugar levels will also be raised, which can provide unfriendly bacteria with a greater food source, not to mention that stress can also impact your digestion, leading to bouts of constipation and diarrhoea.
When your digestive system is affected, it can sometimes increase the population of unfriendly bacteria in your gut, diminishing the levels of friendly bacteria that can regulate the candida yeast.
Obesity can make us vulnerable to infections in a variety of different ways. If you are obese you are likely to sweat more, especially in the creases of your skin, providing a rich feeding ground for fungal spores and bacteria.
It is also possible that your extra weight is placing a strain on your immune system, which will be struggling to keep up with the increasing demands of your body. Obesity can also be linked to poor nutrition – another cause of fungal infections and an overtired immune system.
Fungal infections are contagious. You do not even need to be the host of the infection; if you have physical contact with an affected party then you are likely to contract the disease yourself, and some fungal infections, like ringworm, can even affect your pets too! However, this interaction does not even have to be physical as fungal spores can live and breed on clothing, bed linen or towels, making it crucial that you was your laundry regularly and do not share articles of clothing or other materials with someone who you suspect might have the illness.
Conventional medication, like antibiotics, can sometimes make you more susceptible to a fungal skin infection. This is because some antibiotics attack the friendly bacteria in your gut, which is responsible for regulating the population of candida yeast.
When this essential bacteria is diminished, the population of candida yeast will increase, developing into a systemic issue. It has even been suggested that Oral Contraceptive Pill can also contribute towards the growth of the candida yeast, by interacting with other medicines and your diet.1