Fungal STIs are the most commonly occurring type of STI. They can be treated very easily. Fungal STIs can be treated with a full course of anti-fungal topical solutions and creams or a full length course of anti-fungal medicine. Fungal STIs are transmitted from one person to another through oral, vaginal or anal sex. Physical contact such as touching can also spread fungal STIs. Fungal STIs grow in dark, warm, and moist parts of the genital tract and also in armpits or on nipples.
Even after a fungal STI has been treated, a person should go to the doctor to make sure it has cleared up. If a person has a fungal STI, it is important that they finish the full course of treatment.
There are two STIs in this category: Tinea Cruris and Candidiasis
Tinea Cruris is a fungal infection of the groin. It grows and thrives in wet and moist environments. Tinea Cruris is more commonly known as ‘jock itch’ and is more common in males than females.
Tinea cruris can be transmitted from one person to another through oral, vaginal or anal sex. While the risk of transmitting Tinea cruris during sexual intercourse is quite low the fungus can live in bed clothing and towels. So it is important to avoid sharing towels.
The fungal infection causes an itching or a burning sensation around the groin, the inner thighs or the genital areas. The infected areas may appear red or brown in colour. The skin within these areas may begin to flake, peel and even crack. The rash caused by Tinea cruris appears as raised red areas on the skin, with defined borders that may start to blister.
Tinea cruris is treated with antifungal creams that are applied to the skin. These antifungal creams work by preventing the fungus (Tineas pedis) from producing the substance ergosterol, which is an essential component of fungal cell membranes. If this substance can no longer be produced, the fungal cell dies.
Genital/vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) is also sometimes called a “yeast infection” or “thrush”. It is a common infection that occurs when there is overgrowth of the yeast called Candida. Candida is always present in and on the body in small amounts. However, when an imbalance occurs, Candida can multiply. When that happens, symptoms of candidiasis may appear. Candida yeasts usually live in the mouth, gastrointestinal tract, and vagina without causing symptoms.
Candidiasis can be caused by unprotected sexual intercourse and by an uneven balance of the fluid in the vagina. There are many situations which may cause the fluid imbalance in the vagina, making it easier to grow yeast infections. One instance is unprotected sex. Semen is alkaline and this encourages certain infections to grow as unprotected sex can bring other germs into the vagina.
For women, the symptoms include a white, thick discharge from the vagina and sore, red labia. Women may also experience pain during sexual intercourse. For men, symptoms include itching, swelling and redness at the tip of the penis or under the foreskin. The skin at the tip of the penis may also become dry and flaky. Men may also experience pain while urinating. However, often in both men and women there are no symptoms, which means the infection may persist untreated for prolonged periods of time.
The yeast infection test for women involves a vaginal swab. The infection will often show up on a routine smear test. Men aren’t usually tested for yeast infections unless they show symptoms. Yeast infections can be treated topically with special creams that you can buy at any pharmacy without a prescription. However, if the creams do not work, you will need to get a one-dose oral pill from your doctor or sexual health clinic.