Types of fungal infection – a complete overview

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Hello guys! Today, I will address the various types of fungal infection, which is a global burden in public health.

Fungal infection is a common problem caused by fungus. It can happen anywhere on the skin or inside your body. 

According to a recent study in 2020, fungal infection affects over a billion people, and around 1.7 million death happen every year. And now, it is progressively increasing at a high pace. 

Although it is not much life-threatening unless it enters the blood. But it can hamper your quality of life. 

The nomenclature (name) of fungal infections is much complex, and it is difficult to recognize. In this article, I am going to explore different types of fungal infection in a simplified way.  

Let’s start our topic. 


Fungal infection 

Generally, we all are surrounded by many microbes like bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc. Like other microbes, fungi are also live all over your body. They are harmless due to less quantity. 

But it overgrows whenever they get an opportunity like unhygienic conditions, moisture, weak immune system, etc. As their quantity increases, it becomes vulnerable for you. 


Types of fungal infection

Fungal infections can impact you anywhere in your body, and they are classified into – 

  1. Superficial (outer layer of skin) fungal infections 
  2. Mucocutaneous (inner lining of organs or body cavities) fungal infections 
  3. Subcutaneous (under the skin) fungal infections
  4. Deep opportunistic infection


1. Superficial fungal infections (SFI)

SFI is the most common cause of skin disease. This type of fungal infection may destroy your topmost layer of skin, hair, and nails. 

Usually, most of the fungus present on the superficial/outer layer of skin (stratum corneum of the epidermis), but they do not penetrate inside your body.

They only grow in exceptional conditions like unhygienic, moisture, sweating, skin folds area, etc. It is also varied on the climatic condition and becomes more prone in rainy and summer season. 

Suppose you are exposed to skin fungal infection. In that case, you may have experienced lesions, cracked skin, brittleness, red, itchy, and dryness. These clinical features help in the identification of fungal infection. 

The nomenclature of superficial fungal infections depends on body location. They are usually known as tinea infection, and they are highly contagious and spread from contact with infected persons. 

Let’s know about few superficial fungal infections – 


Fungal infection of the head (Tinea capitis)

Tinea capitis is a fungal infection that appears on the scalp. It is caused by dermatophytes fungi Microsporum and trichophyton. They have capable of infecting keratinized tissue, including hair. 

Due to this, you may have pruritis, hair loss, redness, and itching problem. It is the most prevalent fungal infection which mainly affects children.  

Moreover, your skin may appear circular marks with a raised border. So, it is also known as ringworm of scalp

Types of fungal infection







Fungal infection of beard (Tinea barbae)

This type of fungal infection is often seen around the beard and moustache areas of men. It is rarely happened and less common than Tinea capitis. 

It usually happens due to infection of follicles (or folliculitis). You may have pimples, swelling, and redness in affected areas. 


Fungal infection of face (Tinea Faciei)

It is uncommon, which rarely happens on the face. If it happens in men, it would say Tinea barbae. It commonly appears as red patches followed by the raised border.

Types of fungal infection






Fungal infection of the trunk (Tinea corporis)

It mostly happens in the trunk region. You may be at high risk if you live in hot and humid conditions or weakened immune system. 

Moreover, it quickly spread from direct contact with an infected person or infected pets like dogs, cats, etc. 

Tinea corporis is known as “ringworm” because it is a ring-shaped or circular shape lesion followed by a raised border. 

Types of fungal infection






Fungal infection of groin (Tinea cruris)

It commonly affects your groin or inner thigh area. It is also known as Jock Itch because it is generally found in athletes. 

If you are an athlete, then you may be more susceptible to tinea cruris.  

Tinea cruris frequently grows in moist and skin fold areas. So, it may also affect the armpits and under-breast area. 

Credit – Robertgascoin, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons





It is commonly seen in men than women. Besides, you may be at high risk if you are diabetic or overweight. 

Like other tinea infections, it may be liked ring-shaped, followed by a raised border.  


Fungal infection of the foot (Tinea pedis)

It is also known as an athlete’s foot or foot ringworm. This fungal infection is most commonly seen in the interdigital area of the foot (between the toes).

Credit – Dr Hari K Kasi, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons




You are more probable to get this infection if 

  • You wear tightfitting shoes
  • Living in a hot and humid environment 
  • Excessive sweating in foot areas 
  • Long-standing exposure to water

You may experience itching, dryness, and scaly red rash on the affected area. 

Types of fungal infection





Fungal infection on nails (tinea unguium)

Tinea unguium is also known as “onychomycosis.” According to a study published in the International Journal of Dermatology 2008, onychomycosis (40.3%) is the most frequent infection, followed by other tinea infections. 

Credit – James Heilman, MD, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons






This type of infection commonly affects fingernails and toenails. If you develop onychomycosis, your nails may become crumbled, brittle, thick, hard, discoloured, and irregular in shape. 


Fungal infection of the skin (tinea versicolor)

Tinea versicolor is described by the Latin word versare means colour changes. Tinea versicolor interferes with normal pigmentation of the skin. As a result, flaky discoloured skin patches develop. 

It is most commonly seen on the chest, back and shoulder. It is also known as “Pityriasis Versicolor.” 

Credit – Sarahrosenau on Flickr.com, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons





2. Mucocutaneous fungal infections 

Mucocutaneous fungal infections mainly affect your mucous membrane areas like the mouth, oesophagus, and vagina. It is primarily caused by Candida Albicans fungus. 

Candida albicans are found in a moist and warm environment. 

This type of fungal infection destroys the stratified squamous epithelium of the mouth, oesophagus, and vagina. As a result, Candida Albicans causes oral thrush (oral candidiasis), oesophageal candidiasis, and vulvovaginitis. 

You may develop some clinical features in different mucocutaneous fungal infection like –  


Oral candidiasis

It looks like white cheese on the tongue

Credit – Oral candidiasis – James Heilman, MD, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons







Oesophageal candidiasis

Difficulty or pain while swallowing (dysphagia)


vaginal itching, abnormal vaginal discharge, pain while urinating, pain during sexual intercourse.

Credit – Vaginal – BruceBlaus, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons




If candida species enters into the bloodstream, it causes invasive candidiasis


3. Subcutaneous fungal infection

Sporotrichosis is the most common subcutaneous fungal infection caused by Sporothrix fungus. It is also known as “rose gardener’s disease.”

Generally, sporothrix lives in soil. You may expose to this fungal infection if fungus enters your skin while handling contaminated plant matter. 

Furthermore, it may cause pulmonary (lung) sporotrichosis if spores travel into your lungs. It becomes more severe when this infection spreads in another part of the body, such as bones, the brain, and other organs. 


4. Deep opportunistic infections

This is the most dangerous category of fungal infections. The mortality rate of this fungal infection is very high. 

It usually happens when you have a weak immune system. 

It destroys your particular organ when fungus gets an opportunity to grow, especially in immunocompromised patients. That’s why it is called deep opportunistic infections.

You may more susceptible to this infection if you have certain medical conditions like – 

  • HIV 
  • Acute leukemia
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Bone marrow transplantation
  • Solid-organ transplantation
  • Prolonged corticosteroid therapy
  • Genetic predisposition


Like a superficial fungal infection, the nomenclature of opportunistic fungal infection depends on location. 

Types of fungal infection


Fungal infection of meninges (fungal meningitis) 

If the fungus spreads from the bloodstream to your brain membranes, it causes fungal meningitis. It is caused by various fungi like – 

  • Cryptococcus (Cryptococcal meningitis)
  • Histoplasma (Histoplasma meningitis)
  • Blastomyces (Blastomycosis meningitis)
  • Coccidioides (Coccidioidal meningitis/ valley fever) 
  • Candida (Candida meningitis).


Fungal infection of the eye (candida endophthalmitis)

It is a visual-threatening symptom of disseminated candidiasis.  You may have blurred vision with photophobia if you develop a fungal infection in the eye. 

It mostly happens after cataract eye surgery and injury.


Fungal infection of nose and brain (Rhinocerebral mucormycosis

This type of opportunistic fungal infection rarely happens. It usually affects your nose, paranasal sinuses, and brain. 

It is strongly associated with diabetic ketoacidosis, prolonged steroid therapy, solid organ transplantation, severe burns, HIV, cancer, etc. 


Fungal infection of lungs 

Fungi may also infect your lungs. It is a severe form of fungal infection that leads to lethal. It mainly caused by certain fungi like aspergillus, cryptococcus, candidiasis, mucormycosis, and Pneumocystis.

You may be susceptible to these fungi if your immune system is already compromised. 

According to CDC, aspergillosis or invasive candidiasis is the most common fungal infection in COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease).

Moreover, it may be due to endemic fungal infection. Endemic fungal infections are those infections that may affect both healthy and weakened immune patients. 

The common endemic infections are histoplasmosis, blastomycosis, coccidioidomycosis, and sporotrichosis. So, you may have a pulmonary fungal infection by endemic diseases too.

You may experience coughing, fever, shortness of breath, weakness, and muscle pain. 



In this post, I have reviewed the different types of fungal infections which can occur anywhere in your body. 

Fungal infections are prevalent and make you uncomfortable. It is most often seen in immunocompromised people. 

I hope you have learned something new from today’s article (types of fungal infection). If you found this post to be informative, share it on social media. In the following article, I will be writing about the treatment of fungal infection. 

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