Fungal Skin Infections: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments
Ever had a rash, reddish bumps or unexpected itching? If so, there’s a good chance that you might have a fungal skin infection. It’s estimated that up to one-fourth of the world’s population can be infected with a fungal skin infection at any point in time.
One good thing to know with most fungal skin infections is that they aren’t considered life threatening and are classified as common by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Below we will discuss the types of fungal skin infections, the causes, and treatments for the infections.
Who is most susceptible to fungal skin infections?
Fungal skin infections usually occur in areas on your body where it is moist and warm. Between the toes, in the genital region, underneath the breasts, and armpits are common sites for infection.
People with weakened immune systems are the most susceptible to fungal skin infections; that includes people with HIV, organ transplant patients, cancer patients and patients who have been hospitalized. Those who live in hot and humid climates are more prone as well as sweaty clothes provide an opportunity for fungi to grow.
Common types of fungal skin infections
The most commonly known fungal skin infection is ringworm. It can affect any part of your body but the most common types are athlete’s foot, scalp ringworm, body ringworm, and jock itch.
- Athlete’s Foot – A contagious nuisance, it is an infection of the skin and feet caused by fungi. It can affect any portion of the foot, but is most commonly found on the bottom of the foot and in the spaces between your toes
- Scalp ringworm – This infection normally impacts children more so than adults as it causes red, scaly, itchy bald spots on the scalp. This form of ringworm should be treated as soon as possible in children; if not, it could lead to bald spots that become permanent
- Body ringworm – A classic round, reddish rash with a lighter center and raised edges
- Jock itch – This effects the groin region, upper thighs, or rectum. Can lead to blisters and generally is found in men, but can affect women as well
Another type of fungal skin infection is attributed to the fungus Candida, which leads to yeast infections. Candida is a yeast that can live in the skin or in the mouth, digestive track, or vagina. Yeast infections usually live in moist areas of the skin that cause itching, rashes, redness and scaling. Most yeast infections cause no serious harm but those infected should seek out treatment options from their physician. It is recommended to not self-treat and diagnose yeast infections as that can lead to misdiagnosis and prolonged irritation.
Another location on your body for fungal skin infections to originate are your fingernails and toenails. One can usually notice fungus on the fingernails or toenails when they start to look discolored and brittle with more thickness.
Fungal infections are more likely to happen on your toenails, but they can occur on your fingernails as well. It’s important to never share clippers with others and to always sterilize your clippers after use to prevent spread.
How do fungal infections spread?
Fungal skin infections can be spread and transmitted in a wide number of ways. It can be skin-to-skin contact, through the air or fungus can live on inanimate objects such as benches, chairs or towels. A fungal skin infection can be the result of direct contact from a human or even your pet. Animals often have fungal skin infections as well.
Another prime location for fungi to live is at your local gym. It’s important to practice quality hygiene while at the gym and after leaving to make sure you do your best to prevent infection. When showering at shared location, it’s important to wear some sort of covering on your feet and to not share towels. It’s a good idea as well to get out of your sweaty workout clothes as soon as possible as wearing sweat-drenched clothing can result in a place for fungi to thrive.
When to seek treatment
There are plenty of over-the-counter options to treat different types of infections that we have listed above. Some are creams and some are powders that can neutralize your infection. After that, if you have yet to see improvements in your condition, it is best to consult with a physician.
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