The human body contains many different types of fungi. In small numbers, the fungi are harmless and in some cases help to keep the body healthy. Certain factors may cause the fungi to grow out of control. These include: • Antibiotics • Weak immune system • Warm/moist environment When this occurs, a fungal infection may develop. There are three types of fungal infections: • Cutaneous infections: affect the skin, hair, and nails. • Mucocutaneous infections: affect the mucous membranes found in the gastrointestinal tract and genital areas. • Systemic infections: serious infections that begin in the lungs and enter the bloodstream, spreading throughout the body. Antifungal medications may be used to treat fungal infections. While there are several types of antifungal drugs, they all work by targeting key parts of the fungal cell. One type of antifungal drug affects the fungal cell membrane by binding to an important chemical on the membrane. This creates holes in the membrane, causing the cell to leak and die. Antifungal medications can either be applied topically or taken orally. It is important to take all of your medication to prevent return of infection.
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