A mycosis refers to an infection of living tissue with a fungus. The fungal infection can be about yeast or mold fungi. These can affect either the skin, fingernails and toenails or even through the bloodstream various organs. Mycoses can be either harmless and treatable or in the worst case life-threatening, depending on which fungus attacks which part of the body.

What is a mycosis?

Under a mycosis, medical professionals understand living tissue that is attacked by a fungus. In this case, the host (which may be a human or an animal or a plant) becomes infected with spores of the respective fungus species.

These build up in the body and multiply, causing damage to the affected tissue or even the entire organism. Experts distinguish superficial and systemic mycoses. The former refer to infections of the skin, mucous membrane or nails.

The latter is an infestation of the bloodstream and as a result of various organs. While superficial mycoses can usually be easily treated with medication, systemic mycoses are potentially fatal and require faster medical therapy.


The causes of mycosis are infection with a fungus. In most cases, spores of the respective fungal species invade the tissue of the host.

The spores are viable parts of the fungus that spread in the host. Mycosis in the true sense is only spoken when this spread has occurred and brings about damage to the tissue and corresponding symptoms. In some cases, the host's organism succeeds in resisting the spread of fungi; this is called inapparent infection.

The infection with a fungus can take place in different ways. Among other things, infection is possible from person to person (this is especially the case with skin and mucosal mycoses).

Symptoms, complaints & signs

Systemic mycosis can be severe and ultimately lead to death of the patient. The systemic form initially causes an increasing fever, which may be associated with a feeling of sickness as well as chills, sweats and cardiovascular disorders. Accompanying this may be symptoms such as coughing and dyspnoea.

The main symptom, however, are the skin lesions. The affected person first noticed an attack of skin and nails, occasionally also intimate area and face are involved. The fungus spreads rapidly and leads to itching, redness and pain. After a few days, the skin begins to dandruff, which usually complicates itching. Also typical are extensive skin lichen.

These can become inflamed and in some cases cause bleeding or eczema. If the disease is severe, scars will be left behind, causing emotional distress to the sufferer, as they primarily occur in visible areas such as the arms, legs and hands. Finally, the disease leads to respiratory and circulatory failure, which eventually kills the patient. Early treatment prevents spread of the fungus. The skin changes disappear after a few days to weeks, without late effects or complications are to be expected.

Diagnosis & History

Mycosis is usually diagnosed by the attending physician using a sample taken from the affected tissue. From this sample, a cultivation (rearing) of the pathogen is then carried out in order to determine this clearly.

Since this method can sometimes be quite tedious, treatment for the infection is often started in parallel. Which therapy is used, the physician decides based on his experience. In addition, a microscopic examination of an affected tissue sample can take place for the purpose of protection.

Systemic mycoses generally involve the risk of death of the host by the involvement of certain organs. Medical treatment is therefore urgently needed.


In the worst case, a mycosis can also lead to the death of the patient. This case, however, usually only occurs if no treatment of the disease occurs or if the treatment is initiated very late. In most cases, those affected suffer from fungal diseases that can occur in various parts of the body. This mainly affects the nails and the skin.

Not infrequently, it comes to a pronounced itching and a flaky skin. Those affected feel uncomfortable with the complaint and are often ashamed of the symptoms. This can lead to depression or other mental complaints and inferiority complexes. As a rule, the quality of life of the patient is significantly reduced and reduced by the mycosis.

The treatment of this disease can be done with the help of medication and usually leads to a quick success. There are no special complications if the mycosis does not affect the internal organs. Also, the life expectancy of the patient is not limited in a successful treatment. Proper hygiene can help prevent fungal infections. Even after a successful treatment, the affected person can usually fall ill with it again.

When should you go to the doctor?

If fever, chills, cardiovascular disorders and other signs of systemic mycosis are noticed, medical advice is needed. The infectious disease is a serious condition that can be fatal if left untreated. Therefore, a doctor should be consulted at the latest when the characteristic skin changes occur. An attack of the skin, nails, genital area and face must be examined and treated by a dermatologist. Large-area skin lichen indicates an advanced systemic mycosis - a doctor must be consulted immediately.

During the treatment, regular visits to the doctor are advised so that any medication can be regularly adjusted to the rapidly changing symptoms and symptoms. If it comes to a strong itching and other complications, also the doctor must be informed. Accompanying the treatment of physical symptoms, the patient should seek therapeutic treatment to counteract any psychological distress. Systemic mycosis is treated by the family doctor, the dermatologist and, if necessary, by doctors for internal diseases.

Treatment & Therapy

If the treating physician has diagnosed a mycosis, he will initiate appropriate therapy based on the samples taken and his experience.

The exact type of treatment depends on which area of ​​the body is affected and which fungus it is. If the skin of the host is affected, antifungals (anti-fungal agents) can be prescribed in ointment form, which are applied to the respective body site. If the mucous membranes become infected, ointments or lozenges or suppositories are also used (depending on which mucous membrane is affected).

Systemic mycoses are also treated with antimycotics; however, in most cases these are administered intravenously, so they can act directly in the bloodstream of the host. Here, possible side effects to the benefit of a treatment must be weighed, so that the administration of the drug causes no more serious damage. For particularly severe or persistent mycoses, a combination of local and systemic drug treatment is also possible.

Outlook & Forecast

If a mycosis is detected early and treated, the prognosis is relatively good. Patients must be treated, but can lead a symptom-free life if therapy is successful. The therapy has no long-term effects on body and psyche, but can cause short-term discomfort, which can sometimes be a significant burden. Only a treatment with very strong drugs can cause permanent organ damage and other physical ailments, which permanently reduce the quality of life and, if necessary, impair life expectancy.

The prognosis is poor even if the mycosis is already well advanced. An aggressive therapy, which is accompanied by various side effects, is often the last treatment option. The prognosis is accordingly negative. The prognosis for vaginal mycosis, which becomes a chronic disease in five to eight percent of cases, is relatively positive.

Constant administration of medication can alleviate the symptoms and preserve the quality of life. The therapeutic treatment by means of antimycotics takes place gently by creams or ointments. Side effects usually do not occur. In systemic mycoses intravenous treatment is required, which sometimes causes side effects such as inflammation.


In many cases, a mycosis can not be directly prevented because it is often done indirectly via human dander. However, the risk of certain fungal infections such as the genital organs can be significantly reduced by no frequent partner changes takes place. If there is a suspicion of mycosis, a doctor should always be consulted. Thus, a spread of the infection and also a contagion of other people in the environment can be avoided.


The aftercare of a mycosis depends on the type and location of the disease. For small-surface and superficial mycoses, follow-up measures are usually not necessary. This is especially true for not widely spread and quickly treated athlete's foot and skin fungus. Here it can be assumed with a correct therapy that the fungal infection was eliminated.

Exceptions are patients who are more prone to mycosis due to skin problems or immunodeficiency. As a precaution, they can also go to a follow-up visit after a therapy and have any traces of the fungus detected. Superficial mycoses often form in weakened individuals and in damaged skin.

It should therefore be part of the aftercare that the (several times) affected skin areas are kept healthy. In addition, attention should be paid to dryness and good nutrition. This keeps the skin healthy and the spores do not nest well due to the dryness. This is especially true for toe spaces and the genital region.

In systemic mycoses, however, follow-up examinations are essential. Any residues and reoccurring infections must be detected quickly by careful examination. A prophylactic therapy with antifungals beyond the period of treatment is conceivable.

You can do that yourself

The treatment of a mycosis is usually tedious and associated with various concomitant symptoms. Those affected can help to heal the fungal infection by ensuring strict personal hygiene and compliance with the doctor's instructions.

In consultation with the doctor various remedies from homeopathy can be used. For example, ointments or suppositories with the active ingredients arnica or belladonna have proved their worth. Naturopathy also offers various remedies with calendula ointment and essential oils to relieve the rash. Which measures can be applied in detail should be decided together with the responsible physician.

Basically helpful is a strengthening of the immune system. This is achieved by moderate exercise and adequate sleep. If additional stress is avoided, the mycosis often heals without complications. However, should further complaints arise, a specialist clinic must be consulted. With increasing pain a professionally guided pain therapy makes sense. Since the fungal infection often causes emotional distress, may be accompanied by a therapist. Patients should contact the doctor who can make the appropriate contacts.

In the case of systemic mycosis, treatment in the hospital is required. Those affected should take appropriate precautions and inform the responsible physician about unusual conditions.

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