Fungal infections are caused by a microorganism known as fungus. The microbe is similar to bacteria but is a different organism and requires different medications to combat infection. Whereas antibiotics kill bacterial organisms, anti-fungal medications are a group of medications specifically targeted to kill fungi.
Fungal infections can cause problems in the mouth, throat, feet, skin, vagina, and scrotal areas. They can be contagious and spread easily through contact. Typically, athlete's foot fungus is spread in locker rooms and gyms where people may be walking barefoot. Jock itch is a fungal infection in the groin that is similar to athlete's foot, but is often caused by excessive perspiration with improper ventilation of the groin area in men.
There are many topical treatments for fungal infections of the skin. These infections typically present as scaly red or white rashes that may or may not be itchy.
Fungal infections can invade the vagina from sitting in a wet bathing suit, taking antibiotics and being diabetic. White formed discharge and itching are the most common symptoms of vaginal fungal infections in women. Although not considered a sexually transmitted disease, it can be transmitted through intimate contact.
People whose immune systems are suppressed due to cancer treatments are often more prone to fungal infections as are people with AIDS or autoimmune disorders.
Fungal infections sometimes present in the mouth as a condition called thrush and appear as white patches on oral mucous membranes.
Rarely are fungal infections serious or fatal, but they are uncomfortable and a dermatologist can recommend specific treatments for each individual case. They are sometimes treated with an oral medication. Sometimes, a cream or ointment is used on skin and in the case of vaginal infection, a suppository is the treatment of choice.
A compounding pharmacy is often used as they can mix anti-fungal ingredients into skin-friendly ointment or cream bases. Left out are perfumes and colorants, sometimes found in commercial over-the-counter anti-fungal treatments that sometimes irritate skin further.
Compound pharmacies are often called upon to prepare medications specifically for use by children as dosages are generally smaller. Compounding for pediatric patients is a necessity as many commercial pharmaceuticals are not necessarily produced for children.
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