What is a skin fungal infection?
Fungal infections are caused by the overgrowth of fungus. The skin is very prone to fungal infection for a lot of reasons. Common fungal infections include athlete’s foot, jock itch, ringworm and yeast infections. Fungal infections happen when fungi invade and grow in dead keratin, the protein that makes up the skin, hair and nails. Fungal infections can be classified based on the type of fungus involved.
What is Fungi?
Fungi can grow in two forms; as yeast (single round cells that multiply rapidly) or molds (multiple cells forming long, thin thread called as hyphae). But the fungi, which have a separate class for themselves and are neither plants nor animals can grow and thrive even in the most inhospitable conditions.
Fungi can be present in the air or in the soil and fungal infections are more common in the skin and lungs. Fungal infections do not become serious unless the immune system is weakened, which can happen by drugs and disorders. Fungal infections can spread over a long period of time, and can happen slowly. The treatment, including antifungal drugs can be applied on the site or taken by the mouth.
What is the cause of fungal infections?
Though fungi are visible to the naked eye, in the form of molds and mushrooms, the ones causing infections are not very visible. They can happen due to a variety of reasons:-
- If you don’t dry the skin fully after a bath or shower.
- If you come into contact with someone who has fungal infections or touch contaminated items.
- Walking barefoot in shower and pool where fungi can thrive.
- If your immunity is low your are more likely to contract a fungal infection.
What are the types?
- Athlete’s foot- Also called as tinea pedis, this fungal infection happens in the foot, causing peeling, redness, itching burning and even blisters and sores. Since fungus thrives best in a moist environment including shoes, socks, swimming pools, locker rooms and public showers, people who wear tight shoes for sports and use community baths and pools. The main culprit is the microscopic fungus that lives on the dead tissue of hair, toenails and outer skin layers. Four different types of fungi, including the trichophyton rubrum can cause athlete’s foot. The disease onset is increased during humid summers and wet climates. Athlete’s feet can be identified by the common symptoms including peeling, cracking and scaling of the feet, redness, blisters and softened broken skin. Other symptoms include itching and burning. The various types of athlete’s foot including interdigital (toe web infection occurring between two smallest toes), moccasin (beginning with irritation, dryness, itching or scaly skin, making the skin thicken and crack in the whole sole and foot), vesicular (the least common condition of sudden outbreak of fluid filled bilsters).
- Nail infections (tinea unguum)- Fungal nail infections usually start at the edge of the nail and spread to the base of the nail. They develop over a long time. When there is a fungal infection in the nail, the nails can become discoloured and crumble. The surrounding tissue can thicken and the nail can become too big to be able to comfortably wear shoes. Nail infections happen when the athlete’s foot spreads to the nails or of the nail is weak due to a previous injury.
- Ringworm- Ringworms can occur anywhere, and dermatologists classify based on where they appear. Tinea Corporis is the ringworm that affects the exposed parts of the skin including arms, legs or face. Ringworms are the red ring shaped rash that spreads with close contact. This dermatological condition can spread by touching contaminated items including clothing or bedding. Farm animals including sheep and cattle, and domesticated pets like cats and dogs carry the fungi. Tinea capitis is the ringworm that occurs in the scalp and is most common amongst children. The patches of this ringworm might look scaly and feel itchy. Another symptom of the ring worm is a pus filled are of the scalp called kerion. Hair fall and balding are other side effects of this ringworm but they grow back once the infection has been treated. This dermatological ringworm spreads by sharing a contaminated hairbrush or cloth used by infected people.
- Jock itch is a special type of ringworm that affects the genitals. This dermatological infection gets its name (jock itch) because it is common in young men. The scrotum and thigh are in close contact that is wet and humid, aiding the spread of fungi. The conditions are excellent for the fungi to thrive not only in men but also women who wear tight clothing, causing an itchy red rash in the groin and top of the legs. Ringworms in the groin (jock itch) can spread with close contact with the affected skin or if one touches the groin after touching the affected foot.
What is the treatment?
Fungal infections need to be treated with oral anti- fungals, topical agents and preventive lifestyle changes. Sometimes, resistant infections need different class of anti- fungals than what have been initially prescribed. Also, treatment of other contacts or family members is mandatory.
For more information: http://skindoctorIndia.com/common-dermatologic-problems/fungal-infections/
Dr. Rinky Kapoor is a dermatologist based in Mumbai, India. She is a renowned cosmetologist, dermato surgeon. She specialises in non surgical treatment for the various skin diseases. Dr. Kapoor has worked with the Fortis Hospitals in Mumbai, India and is also the co founder of The Esthetic Clinic. She has worked extensively on the various types of skin infections, diseases and effective treatment methods.