What is a fungal skin infection you might ask. Fungal skin infections [Latin, fungus, mushroom, inficere, to stain], are any inflammatory conditions caused by a fungus, most being superficial and mild, however, some can be persistent and difficult to get rid of. In older, immunosuppressed or immunodeficient people, fungal infections might become systemic and life threatening.
When yeasts and dermatophytes (three fungus types-skin, nail, hair) grow in excess, they can cause fungal skin infection symptoms. Normally these are harmless and can be treated with anti-fungal medications. The fungal infections live off a protein that composes your skin, nails, and hair.
For describing what a fungal infection is, we need to know several things. Funguses are eukaryotic, thallus-forming organisms that feed by absorbing organic molecules from its surroundings. Lacking chlorophyll, they are not capable of photosynthesis. They might be saprophytes or parasites. Unicellular (one-cell) fungi (yeasts) reproduce by budding; multi-cellular fungi, such as molds, reproduce by spore formation. Fungi may invade living organisms, including humans, as well as nonliving organic substances. Of the identified 100,000 species of fungi, 100 are common in humans and 10 are pathogenic.
What is a fungal skin infection?—for one thing, rashes are at times confused with being other skin disorders for instance, eczema, and psoriasis. Fungal skin infections are discussed below. Always contact your health care provider if you think you might have a skin infection.
Fungal skin infection -Describing what a fungal infection is will be addressed in the following paragraphs.
What is a fungal skin infection treatment that might cause problems? The treatments, listed below, are effective and sometimes can cause side effects such as stomach upsets and skin irritation. Treatment, however, must continue for up to two weeks after the rash has subsided. Always check with your doctor if you experience any side effects.
Toenail fungal treatment can last for up to 12 months, or as little as a few weeks depending on the diagnosis.
Fungus cause the most common skin infections. This group of fungi affects the skin, mainly the feet, groin, hands, and scalp. Spreading rapidly from person to person, these infections are commonly known as athlete’s foot, ringworm, tinea versicolor, jock itch, or candida.
On a positive note, these itchy and sometimes painful fungal skin conditions can be cured at home after consulting with your healthcare professional for diagnosis and a prescription indicated for the specific fungus.
Clotrimazole is used in brand names Lotrimin or Canesten. Miconazole is used in brand names, Micatin and Monistat for vaginal infections, Candida albicans, and several other fungal infections of the skin.
Over-the-counter treatments do not always get rid of skin fungal infections. If you have seen no results in two to four weeks, or the infection seems to be spreading, you will need to see your doctor. Your doctor will probably give you a prescription for an anti-fungal lotion including an oral medication to kill the fungus. Killing the fungus is more successful with this two-drug treatment.
Ingredients in the prescription-strength creams are ciclopirox, ketoconazole, or selenium sulfide. Ingredients in the oral prescription are itraconazole, fluconazole, or ketoconazole. When living in humid, warm climates, people have frequent and recurring fungal skin infections. Medications must be taken monthly so that the infection does not continue to return.
To treat yourself at home, be sure to keep the infected area clean and dry to prevent the spreading of the fungus. You can use anti-fungal creams, lotions, shampoos, and powders or a home remedy for ringworm. Most of the treatments are obtainable over-the-counter at drug stores or most groceries. Tolnaftate is an antifungal cream often used with other drugs that you can purchase so check for it on the label.
Since you cannot see the fungus at all times while it is living on your skin, be sure to use the medication for one to two weeks after the visual symptoms are gone as a preventable measure for it not to come back. The fungus will start to heal three to four weeks after you start treating yourself.
HOW FUNGAL SKIN INFECTIONS SPREAD
Fungal skin infections can live for a short time on surfaces; therefore, do not let someone use your combs, brushes, towels, helmets, hoods or other personal items. When using public facilities for swimming, bathing, or showering, wear sandals to prevent contacting athlete’s foot, a fungal skin infection.
Animal fungus can spread to humans, so if you see a bald spot on an animal, do not touch it, as it could be a fungal infection. Spreading quickly to others, wash your bed sheets each day while you have an active infection and until it is gone. Wash all clothes often that have touched the infection site.
For foot infections, change socks several times a day due to possible perspiration and to prevent the fungus from reaching to the shoe lining then back to your feet. You might want to wear a pair of shoes you can toss in the trash after the fungal foot infection is gone.
Avoid getting fungal skin infections by not using oily products, and keeping your skin dry. Fungus thrives in moist, warm, and dark areas. Keep your scalp dry and avoid oily hair lotions, since the scalp is highly susceptible to fungal infections. Avoid wearing tight fitting clothes having no ventilation and cannot breathe. Avoid caps and hats in the summer causing the head to perspire.
FUNGAL SKIN INFECTION TYPES
Depending on what type fungal skin infection you have will depend on the different group it belongs to. Some common infections:
SKIN (DERMATOPHYTE) INFECTIONS
- Athlete’s Foot (Tinea pedis)
Athlete’s foot, also known as foot ringworm and moccasin foot, is red and flaking, scaly, and itchy, and swelling of the feet at times. It is a fungus that also causes white cracks between the toes and sides of feet and can cause blisters. Often this fungus is contracted from walking barefoot on contaminated floors, damp places, public pools, saunas, and showers. If you touch an area that is contaminated, wash your hands. If you do not, it can spread to your underarms, groin, and other parts of the body.
- Groin Ringworm (Tinea cruris)
Often more common in young males and people involved in playing sports is an annoying infection known as jock itch. Both men and women can contact this fungal skin infection. It is not a worm. It is a fungal infection of the hair, nails, or skin’s outer layer. Being highly contagious, it is passed from one person to another by direct body contact or touching unwashed contaminated clothing. It is red and itches in the groin and nearby areas. It can be transferred from a person with Athlete’s foot after touching the feet then your groin area without washing hands.
- Body Ringworm (Tinea corporis)
Ringworm is contagious affecting exposed body parts being the face, arms, and legs. It is not a worm. It causes a red rash that is shaped like a ring, thus its name. Individuals can easily pass ringworm on from one person to another by physical contact. Ringworm may also be contracted by sharing personal objects such as towels, clothes, bedding, hair brushes, footwear and just about every other personal object that has been touched by an infected individual. Ringworm can even be passed on by sports equipment like gym mats, treadmills and weights. Ringworm can be passed from animals to people, and touching soil that has the ringworm fungus in it.
This often affects exposed parts of your body, such as your arms, legs, or face, and causes a red, ring-shaped rash. Ringworm is contagious and can be caught by coming into contact with somebody who already has ringworm or touching contaminated items, such as: walls and floors of showers, swimming pool surfaces, clothing, combs, and brushes.
Body ringworm can be caught by contacting domesticated animals, such as cattle, sheep, and pets (especially cats), carriers of the ringworm fungal infection.
- Scalp Ringworm (Tinea capitis)
This fungal scalp infection mostly affects children, disappearing at puberty. Ringworm can occur at any age infecting the entire scalp or parts of it. Being similar to ringworm of the groin and body, you might develop areas filled with pus, known as kerions, and develop bald spots with small black dots from hair falling out. Sharing combs, brushes, hair clips, and hats, or clothing are common methods for contracting this highly contagious fungal skin infection.
Yeast causes other fungal skin infections:
A yeast infection is caused by the fungus, Candida albicans and is located in the folds of your skin. By pressing or rubbing together top layers of skin, it causes chaffing between the surfaces that are moist. This primarily occurs in bed-ridden people, those with artificial limbs, braces, or splints, and the obese. Infected skin might turn brown or pink. If the skin is extremely moist, the skin tissue will deteriorate and have a foul odor.
Malassezia is a genus of fungi formerly known as Pityrosporum and is common among young people after puberty. This fungus is naturally found on the skin of many humans and animals. It sometimes grows out of control by feeding on secreted oils of the skin. It affects the scalp, known as dandruff, upper arms, the back, and torso, having patches of itchy and scaly discoloured skin, typically, red, brown, or pink. Darker skin might lose some of its natural colour.
- Thrush (Candida albicans)
Thrush usually appears as small white patches that turn dark red when rubbing off. Present naturally in the stomach, mouth and skin is a certain amount of C. albicans. Thrush is an overgrowth of this fungus. In a woman, it can be present in the vaginal area requiring a gynaecologist or doctor giving a prescription for a special anti-viral drug. The symptoms are a watery to thick white discharge, sometimes looking like cottage cheese, and itches. This fungus is normal, but can overgrow when taking antibiotics for another infection usually causing this problem.
Oral thrush is common in newborn and young babies. The white patches of thrush might be incorrectly assumed to be formula and breast milk. Babies with thrush in their throats might stop feeding. Thrush can also develop in baby’s nappy (diaper) area. Thrush is very painful in the mouth and causes swelling of the tongue, especially in adults. Adults usually have an overgrowth in the mouth after a treatment of specific antibiotics to treat another infection.
- Nail Infections (Tinea unguium)
Fungal nail infections develop over a long period of time. The fingernails will become crumbly and discoloured. The tissue around the nail might become thick and swollen. Toenails are commonly more infected than fingernails due to the environment the feet are in.
DIAGNOSING FUNGAL SKIN INFECTIONS
Your health care provider can frequently diagnose skin infections by the appearance and location of rashes. A skin scraping, hair, or nail fragment will be tested by a laboratory for absolute diagnosis.
FUNGAL SKIN INFECTION PREVENTION
To reduce your risk for contracting a fungal skin infection and to stop it from spreading, you must:
• Dry skin completely after perspiring, sweating, swimming, showering or bathing
• Wear sandals, plastic shoes, or flip flops in humid, and wet public areas for swimming, showering, and sauna facilities
• Wear cotton clothes that fit loosely for drawing moisture from your skin
• Wash clothing daily to remove fungi
• Wash bed sheets, blankets, and pillowcases daily for fungal removal
• Do not share hair combs, brushes, towels, nail clippers, scissors and women’s hair accessories, that might have fungus on them
• Alternate shoes daily to let dry out
• Change socks or hosiery often
• Do not wear other people’s shoes
• Diabetics must control their blood sugar
• Soak white items being pillows and linens, scissors, any metal items, combs and brushes in a solution of water and bleach if anyone in your family has scalp ringworm
Athletes foot photoBy Drgnu23 (original uploader) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
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