Difference Between Fungal and Bacterial Infection

Main Difference – Fungal vs Bacterial Infection

At least once in the lifetime, every human being goes through an episode of infection, having to meet a doctor and get treatments. Sometimes coming home after getting treatments, you might wonder why you were asked to get antifungals and not antibiotics. If that is the case, you have probably been diagnosed with a fungal infection, not something bacterial. The main difference between fungal and bacterial infection is that fungal infections are treated with antifungal medications whereas bacterial infections are treated with antibacterial medications.  

This article explains,

1. What is a Bacterial Infection? – Cause, Common Types, and Treatment

2. What is a Fungal Infection? – Cause, Common Types, and Treatment

3. What is the difference between Fungal and Bacterial Infection? Difference Between Fungal and Bacterial Infection - Comparison Summary

What is Fungal Infection           

A fungus can be considered as a primitive organism which grows in air, soil and in water. Few examples of fungi are mushrooms and mildew. There are some fungi which live in the human body, and few of them are not harmful to the body at all. Fungi mainly reproduce through the spores in the air, and when they land on a person or enters into the body through inhalation, they will start multiplying either on the skin or in lungs.

The risk of contracting a fungal infection is high when a person has a weak immune system, or he or she is taking antibiotics.

It is not easy to kill fungi since they are highly resistant to most chemicals. Fungal infections of the skin are usually treated with cream, powder, spray, oils, and ointment and oral treatments can be used for areas where the drugs find it difficult-to-penetrate e.g. nails.

Main Difference - Fungal vs Bacterial Infection

Toenail Fungus

What is Bacterial Infection

Bacteria are a living group of organisms that do not necessarily need to invade host cells in order to replicate. They choose where they want to live and absorb nutrients from the host tissue and secrete toxins which kill the host cells or replicate inside the host cells, resulting in various infections in the affected individual.

The commonest example for a bacterial infection which invades human cells in a spur of a second includes E.coli O157:H7, a specific strain of E.coli which gives rise to food poisoning. Some E.coli do not do any harm to humans, but this particular strain secretes a powerful toxin, leading to vomiting and diarrhea which can be fatal if left untreated.

Bacteria can enter the skin through break openings. Diminished circulation which reduces the body’s ability to maintain its defense mechanisms to fight against an infection can also increase the risk of bacterial infections; this is why bacterial infections are commoner in patients with diabetics, chronic smokers and the elderly.  Furthermore, a poor immunity can also increase the chance of getting infections. For example, HIV-AIDS patient and patients on corticosteroidal drugs can get bacterial infections easily.

Antibiotics like Penicillin, local wound care and proper maintenance of good hygiene and surgery in severe cases (bone and joint infections) are the main modalities of treatments for bacterial infections.

Difference Between Fungal and Bacterial Infection

Difference Between Fungal and Bacterial Infection


Bacteria consists of two major types as Eubacteria and Archaebacteria whereas Fungi exist as a single species known as parasitic eukaryotes. Most of the fungi are either unicellular yeasts or filamentous molds.


More importantly, neither antibiotics which are used to treat bacterial infections work against fungal infections nor anti-fungal medications used against fungi work against bacteria.


Candidiasis, ringworm, and jock itch are some examples of fungal infection. Some examples of bacterial infection  include tetanus, botulism, and gastroenteritis.

Image Courtesy:

“Bacterial infections and involved species” By Häggström, Mikael. “Medical gallery of Mikael Häggström 2014”. Wikiversity Journal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.008. ISSN 20018762. -Bacterial Infections Updated: 01/19/2006. Retrieved on April 11, 2009 (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music