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Infections, rashes and fungus. Oh my.

By Jane Weaver, health editor

Hardly a week passes without scientists warning about some scary new germ.

Even if bird flu is now being called the pandemic that wasn’t there are plenty of deadly bugs to worry about these days – drug-resistant staph infections, the return of bubonic plague  and a new, crippling mosquito-borne virus spreading worldwide that experts think is connected to global warming. There’s even a mutated cold virus that’s been killing young adults – mostly military personnel — over the last 18 months.

All the talk about those nasty pathogens may turn you into an obsessive, Purell-hoarding germophobe, but what about the infections that are simply more annoying than deadly?

In episode 40 of the Body Odd podcast, Dr. Billy Goldberg and Mark Leyner discussed the  most annoying infections that cause all kinds of misery and suffering, but don’t really do serious damage or leave lingering problems. Let’s see, there’s yeast infection – the bane of many women’s existence. Don't forget bladder infections, also known as cystitis, or athlete’s foot.

Of course, anything can kill you, really, as Dr. Billy notes. “You can get complications from very simple things.”

For Mark, jock itch is a major embarrassment. But, he says, “the infection that drove me absolutely crazy, that I live in mortal fear of ever getting again is – pink eye. You wake up and your eyes are stuck together and you look in the mirror and you get a chill. I had buckets of pudding pouring out of my eye. It’s a particularly gruesome …infection.”

Actually, pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is an infection caused by a wide range of viruses, bacteria and irritants. It’s most common in children, but can affect anyone of any age.

Billy also mentions sore throat, sinus infections and skin rashes among his top annoying maladies. Talking about rashes prompted Billy to share a little medical humor. "The joke about dermatologists is, if it’s wet, they dry it, if it’s dry, they wet it, and if they don’t know, they give it steroids,” he says.

Mark thinks a person’s list of annoying infections is a Rorschach test of who he or she is. What’s on yours?