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Fungal Infection Risk Factors

Risk Factors for Fungal Infections

Antibiotic Use & Fungal Infections

Antibiotics are medicines designed to kill harmful bacteria that are causing infection or illness. Sometimes these drugs can also reduce the helpful bacteria that live in the body. When these populations are reduced, fungi may take the opportunity to colonize.

Corticosteroid Use & Fungal Infections

Corticosteroids are a group of drugs that reduce inflammation. They effectively treat many skin disorders. Unfortunately, these drugs also can reduce our immune response and improve conditions for fungus growth.

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Medical Conditions & Fungal Infections

Individuals with diabetes and some cancers, such as leukemia, are more susceptible to fungal infections than the general population.

Compromised Immune System & Fungal Infections

The immune system is a set of chemical and cellular responses that attack disease-causing organisms and help prevent their growth. A number of factors can depress this system. These include chemotherapy (cancer-killing drugs) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

A depressed immune system less effectively fights off all types of infection. Thus a fungus that normally would be controlled by the immune system may begin to grow.

Environmental Factors & Fungal Infections

Fungi require moisture to grow and reproduce. Fungal infections are more prevalent in warm, moist areas of the body, such as the mouth and vagina. Also, sweaty clothes and shoes can enhance fungus growth on the skin. Exposure to fungi is more frequent in communal areas with moisture, such as locker rooms and showers.

Hereditary Factors & Fungal Infections

Some people seem to have a genetic predisposition toward fungal infections. They may contract infections more easily than others exposed to the same conditions. Whether this is due to differences in immune response, skin chemistry, or other factors is not known.

Transmission of Fungal Infections

Fungal infections can be passed from person to person or from objects and surfaces to a person. Also, an individual can transfer infection to other parts of the body by touching.

Physician-developed and -monitored.
Original Date of Publication: 01 Sep 2000
Reviewed by: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 04 Dec 2007

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This page last modified: 01 Sep 2010

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