Many people suffer from fungal infections at least once in their lives. Poor hygiene, humidity and a warm climate are possible causes of fungal infections. Diaper rash, athlete’s foot, jock itch, and oral thrush are some common fungal infections. Although it goes by the name ringworm, this is not a worm but a fungus, it is also one of the most common types of fungal infections in humans. A reason athletes’ foot and jock itch are common is due to the moist, damp environment with no fresh air, this allows the fungus that is usually present on almost everyone’s skin to multiply and grow uncontrollably.
A lot of fungi that cause these infections are already becoming resistant to more aggressive forms of medications. While over-the-counter medicines and antifungal creams are readily available in the market, most fungal infections respond very positively to home remedies. Let us take a look at some of them.
Most Common Risk Factors for developing Fungal Infections:
- Living in hot and humid climates, sweating too much, or wearing damp clothes can result in the development of fungal infections.
- A compromised immunity due to underlying diseases like diabetes, HIV, cancer, etc. can cause fungal infections.
- Living in an unclean environment and not maintaining personal hygiene can cause fungal infections.
- Wearing dirty clothes like unclean socks and innerwear can lead to fungal infections.
- Wearing clothes that are too tight can cause sweating, providing the necessary moisture for the accelerated growth of fungi.
- Obesity can lead to fungal infections. Moisture can be retained in skin folds, further giving a breeding ground to fungus.
- Stress can compromise our immunity further leading to fungal infections.
- Hormonal changes in pregnancy can lead to vaginal infections.
Fungal Infections – Symptoms and Causes
Of millions of fungi species, only roughly 300 infect humans in any significant way. Here are a few common fungal infections and their causes.
|Body Ringworm||Tinea corpis, ring-shaped rashes on body and limbs, itchy||Microsporum, Trichophyton, Epidermophyton and up to 40 fungi species|
|Athlete’s foot||Similar to ringworm but on the feet especially between the toes, red scaly skin,||Dermatophyte group of fungi|
|Jock itch||Occurs in the groin and thigh area, most common in men, red rash with itchiness that may worsen with exercise, scaly appearance||Dermatophyte group of fungi|
|Scalp Ringworm||Affects the scalp and hair shafts, common in children, bald patches are common along with redness, tenderness and pain may occur||Dermatophyte group of fungi|
|Tinea versicolor||The yeast is present on healthy skin but certain triggers can lead to overgrowth of the fungus, oval patches on the skin (chest, back, arms), lighter or darker than the surrounding skin||Malassezia|
|Onychomycosis||Occurs under the finger and toenails, leads to discoloured and brittle nails, nail thickness may increase||Trichophyton but many fingernail infections are caused by Candida (yeast type of fungus)|
Home Remedies For Fungal Infection are:
1. Eat Yoghurt and Probiotics
Yoghurt and other probiotics have an ample amount of good bacteria that help stave off many fungal infections. These fight off microbes that cause these infections.
Fermented foods are another excellent source of probiotics. If these are not helping, you could use probiotic supplements that have more concentrated dosages of good bacteria. Read more on the health benefits of yoghurt.
2. Wash with Soap and Water
Clean the affected area with soap and water twice daily before you apply any home remedies or any other medication. This will control the spread of infection. While soap and water may not always be able to eliminate a fungal infection entirely, it helps to keep the spread down and lower the intensity of the infection.
3. Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has antifungal properties. You could mix two tablespoons in warm water and drink it up or dip a cotton ball in it and dab over your skin. Doing this thrice a day should produce beneficial results. Know more about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar.
4. Use Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is naturally antifungal and antibacterial. Mix it with any carrier oil like coconut oil or olive oil and dab over the infected area about three to four times a day. This is one of the most effective home remedies to treat fungal infections.
5. Use Coconut Oil
In its unheated form, even coconut oil works as a potent antifungal agent. Applying it over the skin makes it a good, safe topical medicine. Since it is easy on the skin, it is also useful to treat scalp ringworm. Use over the skin three times a day.
6. Use Turmeric
Turmeric is a potent antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory spice. Mix with a little water and apply over the infected area. To get benefits in the internal body environment, mix with warm water, or have turmeric tea. This is one of the easiest home remedies for fungal infection as turmeric is present in all Indian kitchens across households.
7. Use Aloe Vera
One of the most time-tested natural remedies to cure any skin infection is aloe vera. It not only treats the infection but also soothes and repairs skin damage. Also, read aloe vera’s benefits for face and skin.
Garlic is one of the most potent antifungal and antimicrobial herbs. Those who eat garlic regularly are less susceptible to fungal infections. Crush a couple of garlic with some olive oil and make a paste. Apply to the infected area for about thirty minutes. Also, read the benefits of garlic for health.
9. Oregano Oil
Another active antifungal agent is oregano oil. Mix a few drops with any carrier oil and dab on the affected area. You could also take oregano oil capsules orally.
Follow these remedies regularly to achieve the desired results. Check for allergies to essential oils before using them.
10. Neem Leaves
Neem leaves have effective antifungal properties and are extremely good for the skin. Washing the infected area with neem water helps in treating fungal infections. To make neem water, boil neem leaves in water for 2 to 3 minutes.
11. Consuming foods rich in Vitamin C
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid ) boosts our immune system. It protects our body from various infections. A good immune system also helps to treat fungal infections faster.
12. Baking Soda
Baking soda is useful in fungal infections like athlete Foot. Applying baking soda powder on our feet and the inside of our shoes helps to absorb moisture and sweat. It thus prevents the infection from spreading.
13. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen Peroxide helps to cure Athlete’s Foot. Soaking our feet in a solution made using equal parts of water and hydrogen peroxide effectively kills the fungus causing athletes’ feet.
Gingerol present in ginger has potent antifungal properties. Adding ginger to our diet in the form of ginger tea effectively helps to prevent and treat fungal infections like Candida.
Using honey is also one of the easiest home remedies for fungal infection as it contains hydrogen peroxide, very effective to kill fungus and bacteria which are responsible for causing skin infections. Applying raw honey to the affected region is the best solution as it is loaded with healing properties.
16. Grapefruit Seed Extract
Research has relieved that grapefruit seeds extract has the healing power to treat fungal infections. To do so, mix a drop of the seed extract with a few drops of water and apply to the affected spot(s) twice a day.
17. Powdered Licorice
Licorice is naturally bestowed with anti-inflammatory or anti-microbial properties and is therefore perfect to take care of fungal infections. To use it, add powdered licorice to a cup of water and bring it to a boil. After a few minutes, let it simmer. Once it has assumed a paste-like consistency, let it cool and apply the mixture to the affected skin twice a day.
18. Lemongrass oil
Lemongrass is also laden with anti-microbial properties so you can easily use it to treat your fungal injection as one of the home remedies. You need to mix lemongrass oil with a carrier oil and dab it on the affected region with a cotton ball or swab two times a day!
You can also follow certain precautions to prevent or treat fungal infections:
- Always wear clean clothes since since fungal spores can stick to clothing for a long time, especially when it is unwashed.
- Avoid using harsh detergents to clean clothes.
- Avoid wearing clothes that are too tight since these can reduce airflow to your skin and increase local sweating, which together will increase the risk of fungal infection. Prefer breathable cotton clothes.
- Avoid scratching the affected area as it can worsen the infection and also increase the chances of spreading.
- Wash the affected area at least 2 to 3 times a day, as mentioned earlier, this can control and manage the intensity of the fungal growth.
- Keep the affected area as dry as possible, the less moisture the lower chance for the fungus to grow.
When to visit a doctor for fungal infections?
- Even after following home remedies, there is no improvement.
- The fungal infection worsens or recurs.
- The infection starts spreading.
- If you experience a fungal infection while pregnant.
- If you are suffering from diabetes.
- Fungal infection is accompanied by fever or discharge of pus.
The fact is, most fungal infections are easily curable with proper treatment, you may not even be aware you have a fungal infection. Self-examination goes a long way to identifying fungal infections early, especially if there are no other symptoms like itchiness or irritation. If there is no improvement with these home remedies, seek out medical attention for further treatment.
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- Do fungal infections occur during winters?
Yes, fungal infections may occur during winters. The fungi that cause this condition like being in a wet environment, particularly skin, nails, and shoes. Even a little bit of sweat can lead to fungal infections so you must keep your skin clean and dry.
- What happens if I leave a fungal infection untreated?
If a fungal infection is left untreated, it may lead to serious health problems, such as skin infections, fatigue, oral thrush and others.
- Are fungal infections contagious?
Fungal infections can be contagious in some cases. They can spread from one person to another, which is why as soon as you develop signs or symptoms of a fungal infection, you must consult a doctor.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.