Fungal skin infections can be caused by a number of different skin fungi. This is a relatively common problem, experienced by most people at least once and known to exist ever since ancient history. While not dangerous, fungal skin infection can be aesthetically unpleasing, and often accompanied by mild, yet unpleasant symptoms. What’s more, this condition can be, in some cases, extremely contagious, so quick treatment is often recommended despite the relatively benign nature of the condition. Most commonly, skin fungi appear on the feet, hand, groin, stomach or back.
What’s on this page?
One of the most common types of fungal skin infection certainly is ringworm. The good news is that while the name of this condition sounds rather frightening, in reality, it has nothing to do with real worms. On the contrary, ringworm, also known as dermatophytosis is a very common skin condition, estimated to affect around 20% of global population at any given time. Usually rather benign, ringworm can become problematic if it develops into other conditions.
For example, once fungi responsible for the ringworm spread to the nails, the condition is called onychomycosis and it causing them to thicken, discolour and eventually crumble and fall off. Similarly, ringworm can also develop into athlete’s foot if it appears on the feet and in so-called jock itch if it appears in the groin.
It is also important to note that fungi responsible for ringworm can also infect animals, including pets such as cats and dogs, and the contact with the infected animal can spread the fungi to the human, making this condition a rather resilient
Ringworm is usually easily identified due to its typical enlarging red, itchy and scaly rings on the skin and accompanying symptoms:
- Circles or oval rings with itchy and scaly edges
- Can grow from a couple of millimetres to centimetres in diameter
- The skin in the middle of the ring appears normal, but has less prominent scaling
- Itchy skin around the rings
While not dangerous in itself, ringworm should be treated as soon as it is diagnosed in order to stop the infection from spreading. The usually prescribed medicine is a fungicide, available both as a tablet and as a cream that is applied directly to the skin.
Brown spots on the skin – Sign of fungal skin infection?
Strange brownish spots that suddenly appear on the skin can often turn out to be a symptom of a yeast infection called pityrosporum ovale. While yeast fungi are commonly present on the human body, in certain conditions they can enter the phase of unrestrained growth resulting in growing brownish spots eventually merging together in larger clumps.
However, this condition called pityriasis versicolor is completely harmless and poses no risk to the health of an individual. Despite that, many consider it to be aesthetically and cosmetically displeasing and look for ways to treat. Luckily, even the mildest of fungicides can do the trick and give your skin its original colour back.
Symptoms of fungal skin infection
Different types of fungi that can infect skin manifest different symptoms. However, there are some which are rather common in all different conditions:
- Spots of a different colour on skin (usually brownish or red)
- Itching and scaling
- Clustering of spots under the chest, on the stomach, under the arms or in the moist parts of the body
How do you get infected by skin fungi?
Again, this depends completely on the exact type and species of the fungi. For pityriasis versicolor, the cause is overproduction of the yeast sprouts which has, as of now, no identified cause. For others, the cause may be contact with a type of fungi that doesn’t normally exist on human body. So, there is no way to be completely safe from fungal skin infections. But, the good news is that all skin fungi can easily be treated and are rather benign producing little to no symptoms, aside from purely aesthetical ones.
A condition known as athlete’s foot is caused by the fungi living between the toes, causing the skin to appear “spongy” with scratches and sores appearing if the condition is left untreated. Although benign in terms of broader health considerations, athlete’s foot can be a rather painful and annoying condition and that’s why it should be treated as soon as possible.
This fungal infection arises from the fact that when the feet are sweaty, space between the toes becomes the perfect environment from fungi growth. Since it is also a highly contagious condition, you can get it from a swimming pool or through a shared towel. Athlete’s foot is easily treatable by fungicides and can also be prevented through simple precautions:
- Don’t walk barefoot around swimming pool or other places where you might get infected
- Use cotton of wool socks instead of synthetic ones
- Apply fungicide in the shoes
Fungal infection in the groin
A lot of people can experience fungal skin infection localized to the groin and the crotch. This part of body is especially susceptible to yeast infections due to its higher temperature and humidity. So, the mechanism of infection is the same as in athlete’s foot. Symptoms of groin fungal infection include:
- Itching in the groin and around the crotch
- Large reddish-brown rash
- Scaly skin in the affected area
Treatment of fungal skin infection
Whether it is ringworm, common skin fungus, foot fungi or some other variety, all of these conditions can be treated very easily with fungicides. The treatment is available both as a cream and a tablet. The recommendation for exact treatment by your doctor will follow after the specifics of the infection have been considered. And there are also things you can do yourself to stop the infection from spreading like:
- Don’t use fatty creams
- Always dry thoroughly after bathing, especially in skin folds and places where moisture can stay like between toes or in the armpits
- Change clothes and shoes if they become damp
- Use flip-flops in the swimming pool
- Avoid contact with potentially infected animals