Human infectious diseases caused by fungi classified as superficial, cutaneous, subcutaneous, and systemic mycoses. What specific characteristics distinguish each of these categories?

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sciencesolve | Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The superficial, cutaneous and subcutaneous mycoses belong to the skin mycoses category, while systemic mycoses belong to the other main category of mycoses.

The superficial mycoses are located to the outer surface of the hair and skin and in this sub-category can be found a Basidiomycota type of yeast, called Trichosporon cutaneum and the Ascomycota filamentous type, called Piedraia hortae.

The cutaneous mycoses, oftenly called dermatomycosis, are located in  in non-living tissues of skin, hair, or nails, where the deposits of keratin can be found. The infections with these three types of  filamentous Ascomycota fungi, Epidermophyton, Microsporum and Trichophyton, can cause allergic reactions in epithelial cells. The infections with dermatophytes can be transmitted through physical contact and shared facilities.

The subcutaneous mycoses become infective when the fungus enetrs the skin through wounds, invading cutaneous and subcutaneous tissues, also the connective tissues and bones. The removal of the infective body part is being possible through surgery procedures.

The systemic mycoses are infections that affect not only the skin, but the entire body and they are caused by primary pathogens or opportunistic pathogens.

The virulent spores in systemic mycoses caused by primary pathogens are inhaled, hence, the infection first invades the lungs and then it extends to other organs. Such examples of systemic mycoses caused by primary pathogens are histoplasmosis, blastomycosis, cryptococcosis and coccidioidomycosis.

Systemic mycoses caused by opportunistic pathogens occur when the immune system against fungi is weakened and this weakness is usually the side effect of immunosuppressive therapies.

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