Fungal vs. Bacterial Skin Infections

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elizabeth Friedl

Elizabeth, a Licensed Massage Therapist, has a Master's in Zoology from North Carolina State, one in GIS from Florida State University, and a Bachelor's in Biology from Eastern Michigan University. She has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

There is a chance that if a person becomes ill or possesses a sore on their skin that it can be either a fungal or bacterial infection. Learn more about your skin, fungal infections, bacterial infections, their differences and how they can be treated. Updated: 12/13/2021

Your Skin

Do you know what the largest organ of your body is? The answer might surprise you - it's your skin! That's right, your skin is considered an organ and its job is to protect your insides from the world around you. It's like a wall that helps stop intruders, germs, dirt, and other things from getting in. Your skin is also involved in important functions like controlling your body temperature and your respiration. Your skin is a dynamic organ too, as new skins cells constantly replace old ones.

Because your skin is exposed to the outside world, it's also exposed to all the harmful things out there. This means that infections can occur on your skin as it interacts with microscopic bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens. But the causes of skin infections vary greatly, so it's important to understand the differences between their sources. Let's look at these sources in a bit more detail to get a better idea of how they affect our skin and what kind of damage they can cause.

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  • 1:05 Fungal Infections
  • 2:21 Bacterial Infections
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Fungal Infections

One source of infections on your skin is fungi. Now, we're not talking about the button mushrooms you had for dinner last night. Fungi are microscopic, mostly multi-cellular, living organisms, and they have an affinity for areas like skin, nails, and hair. They cause fungal infections like athlete's foot, ringworm (which is not actually a worm!), yeast infections, and jock itch.

Have you ever seen mushrooms growing on the side of a tree? Fungal infections on your skin are a lot like this. But this time, you are the tree and those dead cells on your skin that are constantly being replaced serve as a food source for the microscopic fungi living there.

Even though fungal infections are usually treatable with anti-fungal medications, they can be quite uncomfortable. They may itch, burn, present a rash or inflammation, and cause scaling skin. Trichophyton, Microsporum, and Epidermophyton are the most common genera of fungi that cause these types of infections. In general, fungal infections come from an animal, soil, or other humans who are infected. This is why wearing your shower shoes at the gym is so important; you never know what other feet have been in there before you!

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