A fungal culture test helps diagnose fungal infections, a health problem caused by exposure to fungi. A fungus is a type of microorganism that lives in the air, soil, plants, and even the human body. There are more than one million types of fungi. Most are harmless, but some can cause infections. There are two main types of fungal infections: superficial (affecting external parts of the body) and systemic (affecting systems and devices within the body).
Superficial fungal infections are very common. They can affect the skin, genital region, and nails. These superficial infections include athlete’s foot, vaginal yeast infections, and ringworm. Although not serious, superficial yeast infections can cause itchy, scaly rashes and other uncomfortable problems.
Systemic yeast infections can affect the lungs, blood, and other systems and devices in the body. These infections can be quite serious. Many of the most harmful fungi affect people with weakened immune systems. Others, like Sporothrix schenckii for example, often affect people who work with soil and plants, although the fungi can infect a person through an animal bite or scratch, often a cat. A Sporothrix infection can cause skin ulcers, lung disease or joint problems.
Both superficial and systemic fungal infections can be diagnosed with a fungal culture test.