Common amongst the general population, typical fungal infections can be easily treated with over the counter drugs. When they occur in a diabetic, fungal infections can become more severe or occur with greater frequency. Common afflictions include jock itch, athlete’s foot, and in women, yeast infections. Diabetic patients are at higher risk of contracting fungal infections and suffering from chronic infections when blood glucose is not kept at normal levels. Beyond the most well known fungal infections, there are a variety of infections that can occur in the diabetic patient, which if left untreated, can become life threatening.

Diabetic fungal infections frequently manifest on the skin where fungus feeds on glucose. The condition athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) is caused by trichophyton rubrum and trichophyton mentagrophytes, causing scaling and cracking between the toes and sometimes fingers. Ring worm (tinea corporis or tinea capitis) caused by dermatophytes produces circular red scaly patches.

Candida albicans, responsible for vaginal and groin infections, can also infect the gums (thrush), nails (onychomycosis), fingers, toes, and skin of the foreskin, mouth, and breasts and can become chronic when the immune system is weakened.


Diabetic Fungal Infections: Oral Infection


Diabetes patients are more prone to oral infections particularly gum disease. Research shows there is a link between gum disease and glucose levels in diabetic patients making them more prone to infection as well as vise versa with gum disease accelerating the progression of a diabetic condition. If you take antibiotics or have high blood sugar you are more susceptible to thrush. Causing white or red patches in the mouth, thrush enters though chafed or sore spots in the mouth, turning into ulcers. Wearing ill-fitting dentures or dentures for extended periods of time can increase the risk of thrush.


Severe Diabetic Fungal Infections


Mucromycosis is contracted through the inhalation of spores found in soil and decaying vegetation. Infecting the brain, sinuses, or lungs, this particular fungus has a very high mortality rate of 25-80% depending on the site of infection. Individuals are exposed to mucromycosis daily however the weakened immune system of an individual with poorly controlled diabetes. Symptoms include fever, eye swelling, headache, coughing, vomiting blood, sinus pain, among others. If you have diabetes and display these symptoms immediately contact your doctor. Emergency surgery is required to remove all infected and dead tissue. Another rare form of diabetic fungal infection is fungal meningitis (cryptococcal meningitis), which causes chronic meningitis. Often displaying the same symptoms as acute bacterial meningitis, fungal meningitis can become life threatening if not properly treated with antifungal medications.  Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, vomiting, and confusion concentrating.