As we humans occupy the earth, so do microorganisms live everywhere. They can be found in soil, plants, on surfaces, and even on the skin. They are usually too minute to be seen with the naked eye.
One of the commonly known microbes is fungi. They are microbes that contain a distinct substance called chitin in their cell walls. There are millions of fungal species; some are edible, like mushrooms, while others types of fungi, like aspergillus, can be very dangerous and life-threatening.
Fungal infection occurs when a fungus gets inside the body and overpowers the immune system. They can appear on several parts of the body. They affect the skin the most. Most fungal infections develop in wet and warm areas that do not get much air, like the groin, feet, and folds of skin. They are extremely contagious. They can spread from one person to another.
Most times, mild fungal infections look like a rash and are very common. An example of a mild fungal infection is ringworm. However, fungal infections can become more serious, especially in the lungs.
One study estimate that over 11.8% of Nigerians to suffer from a serious fungal infection each year
In today’s article, we will discuss the common fungal diseases in Nigeria. Most fungal disease in Nigeria affect the skin. They are very common yet not serious.
1. Ringworm (of the scalp)
The most widespread fungal infection in Nigeria is ringworm of the scalp, also known as Tinea capitis.
It is a skin infection or ringworm of the scalp caused by a fungus called dermatophytes. It mostly affects children.
The symptoms of tinea capitis are itchy, scaly, bald patches on the head and tender or painful areas on the scalp.
Please note that it is called gets its name because of the circular appearance of the patches. No worm is involved.
This fungal disease is a contagious infection and can quickly spread among children in school.
To prevent this condition, you must avoid sharing personal items such as hats, hairbrushes, combs, hair pins, pillows, and helmets. Also, keep your child’s scalp clean and dry.
Nevertheless, it can be treated by taking medications.
2. Ringworm (of the skin)
Ringworm, also known as Tinea corporis, is a common fungal infection, and it is contagious. It can be transmitted from contact with infected soil, humans, animals, or objects.
It is caused by a fungus that lives on dead tissues and not by a worm, as commonly thought because of its name. It is caused by dermatophytes.
Ringworm can affect the scalp and skin. It can be found on the skin, especially in humid and warm parts of the body. It is easily noticed due to its shape. It forms a patch that may turn into a ring-shaped patch after a while. It may eventually spread out into several rings.
The treatment of ringworm is based on how severe the symptoms are. Medicated ointments and creams are often used in the treatment of ringworm.
Proper personal hygiene can help prevent and treat ringworm. Make sure the skin is always clean and dry to avoid infection. Also, avoid sharing personal belongings with others.
3. Athlete’s foot
Athlete’s foot (also known as Tinea pedis) is a fungal infection that affects the foot. The infection is caused by dermatophytes, a type of fungi that can live in the warm areas between the toes.
It is commonly associated with athletes because it occurs in warm and humid environments, like shoes, socks, and locker rooms. However, anyone can be affected by athlete’s foot, and it is highly contagious.
Athlete’s foot can cause an itching or painful sensation between the toes or on other parts of the foot. The skin may crack or blister. It may also lead to discoloration in the affected area.
4. Jock itch (Tinea cruris)
Jock itch is a fungal infection that affects the skin on the groin area, inner thighs, and buttocks. It is common in men and boys. However, women and girls can also develop it.
Like athlete’s foot and ringworm, it is also caused by dermatophytes. It is mildly contagious and can be spread through contact with an infected person or an object with the fungus.
The major symptom is an itchy red rash in the groin area or upper inner thighs. The affected skin may appear scaly or cracked. It may lead to itchiness, a burning sensation, and a change in the skin colour of the affected area.
Jock itch can be avoided by wearing loose-fitting cotton underwear and avoiding contact with an infected person. Also, avoid shared items, such as towels and sponges.
5. Cutaneous candidiasis
It is a fungal infection that affects the skin and is caused by Candida fungi. This fungus naturally lives on and inside the body. An infection occurs when the fungus overgrows.
This skin infection occurs in areas that are moist, warm, and with little airflow, like, the area under the breasts and the folds of the buttocks.
6. Vaginal yeast infection
Vaginal yeast infection (also known as vaginal thrush or vulvovaginal candidiasis) is an infection that affects the vagina and/or vulva with a yeast germ called candida.
It is one of the common fungal diseases in Nigeria, as it is caused by the fungus candida.
Although vaginal thrush is not called a sexually transmitted infection, it can be transferred on during sex. However, the main cause of thrush is due to an overgrowth of the candida yeast in the vagina or an overgrowth of yeast known as Candida albicans.
The symptoms include itching, soreness, discharge, redness, and swelling.
Nonetheless, it can be treated with an oral antifungal drug or the application of an antifungal cream.
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