Fungal infections have been with us since inception, we live with fungi as we do with bacteria, some are good and some are bad, and we have grown to accept that they are part of life, it is easy to become infected and they are difficult to deal with. If left untreated they can cause severe health problems.
An article in the January 15 2001 issue of Time magazine summed it up this way:
“With all those scary microbes out there, it's hard to get worked up over a toenail fungus or a case of athlete's foot. But the fungi that cause these and dozens of other infections are not as trivial as they may seem. Fungi have a way of turning nasty--seeping into the bloodstream and invading vital organs. Lately they've been doing that more and more, thanks to increased travel (which exposes people to fungi for which they have no immunity) and to immunosuppressant drugs (which leave patients vulnerable to what would otherwise be innocuous fungal infections). "The kind of thing that used to grow on bread in the kitchen is now causing life-threatening illness," says Dr. Mitchell Cohen, head of fungal and bacterial diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
“However, as anyone who has wrestled with a persistent case of athlete's foot knows, it's not easy to root out a fungus once it's taken hold. Part of the problem is that fungi are complex organisms that have more in common with human cells than with bacteria or viruses; medications that are toxic to fungi are often just as toxic to humans.”
The full article can be read on:
What are the fungal conditions that affect human health, what are the symptoms, how do we become infected, how can we protect ourselves from getting a fungal infection and what are the treatments. This is a very large subject and as such we will only deal with the more common fungal infections (topical) here and not attempt to provide an in-depth medical or mycological synopsis.