Fungal infections are a common ailment that can affect numerous body parts. From athlete’s foot to your fingernails, these conditions can cause immense trouble for individuals of all ages.
Fungi are microorganisms that come in many types, shapes, sizes, and colors but are set apart from other plants or bacteria by the presence of chitin in their cell walls. And in some cases, these fungal infections can appear as a result of coming into contact with a fungal substance, or they can occur due to a fungus already present in your body.
Below, we’ll dive deeper into common fungal infections, how to identify their presence, and how to treat them.
Common Types of Fungal Infections
Fungal infections, or mycosis, typically occur due to warm moist conditions that allow fungi to grow and flourish. These fungal spores can be picked up via direct contact or inhaled and can be hard to eliminate. This is precisely why fungal infections affect fingernails, toes, and skin. Let’s take a closer look at a few fungal infections, their symptoms, and fungal skin infection treatment.
1. Athlete’s Foot
Also referred to as tinea pedis, an athlete’s foot is a fungal skin infection of the foot. It typically occurs between the toes and grows with help from trapped moisture in socks and shoes. An athlete’s foot is typically acquired by making contact with moisture-rich spaces such as showers, locker rooms, and swimming pools.
The symptoms of athlete’s foot vary from person to person but can be:
• Peeling, cracked skin that’s especially prevalent between the toes but can
• Itching and burning
• Reddened or irritated skin.
In most cases, your doctor will prescribe antifungal medication and request that you use sandals to keep your feet clean and dry. For severe instances of athlete’s foot, you may be prescribed oral antifungal medicine.
2. Jock Itch
Jock itch is caused by a fungus similar to the one responsible for an athlete’s foot. It occurs as a result of moisture and often appears in regions that are warm such as the inner thighs and genital areas.
Jock itch is typically marked by an appearance of red, itchy rashes in confined, moist regions of the body. These rashes may take the form of round, raised patches. In addition to these symptoms, others may surface, including:
• Flaking skin
• Burning sensation
Fungal infection treatment includes over-the-counter antifungal medicines and, in some severe cases, prescription skin creams. You’ll also want to ensure that the area is kept clean and dry to reduce the possibility of further issues.
Also known as tinea corporis, this condition gets its nickname for its ring-shaped, worm-like appearance. It’s potentially contagious and can be picked up from clothes or furniture. Ringworm sores may appear as raised and inflamed patches that form ring-like shapes.
Fungal infection symptoms include:
• Circular-shaped sores
• Scaly patches
• Raised rings with seemingly unaffected skin in the center
Like most fungal infections, ringworm can be treated with antifungal medications such as
4. Yeast Infections
A yeast infection is caused by a type of fungus known as candida that occurs when the fungus grows too much. It’s not contagious but often forms in warm moist areas such as the armpits, groin, and genital areas.
Yeast infections typically display as follows:
• Pimple-like bumps
• Burning sensations
• Oozing patches
The treatment for yeast infections will depend on the type of infection. For skin-based yeast infections, medicated creams will often do the trick. But for vaginal yeast infections, over-the-counter suppositories and oral medications are used.
Onychomycosis is a fungal infection that targets the finger and toenails, causing thickening, discoloration, and separation from the nail bed. It typically occurs in older adults but can happen to people of any age.
Symptoms of Onychomycosis include:
• Thickened nails
• Discoloration of the nails
• Mobility Issues
This condition is typically treated with oral antifungal medications, including:
These oral nail fungal infection treatments will allow new nails to grow without re-infection and will take roughly 5-12 weeks to work fully.
Factors That Increase the Possibility of Fungal Infections
There are quite a few environments that allow fungal infections to form. These include:
1. Dampness and Humidity
Humidity and moist conditions are the perfect breeding ground for fungi. As a result, areas of the body that trap and hold moisture, such as armpits, toes, and groin regions, are much more likely to suffer from fungal infections.
2. Poor Blood Circulation
Poor circulation can inhibit your immune system’s response and make it more difficult for your body to fight the infection.
Those that are postmenopausal are susceptible to hormonal changes that can change the acidity level of your vagina. This can make you more predisposed to contracting a fungal infection.
4. Suppressed Immune System
Those undergoing cancer treatments or otherwise suffering from immune system issues are more likely to suffer fungal infections.
5. Nail and Skin Injuries
Small infections or injuries to the nails and skin can allow fungi to gain access under your skin or nails. As such, it’s crucial to clean wounds and keep them covered to minimize the possibility of fungal infection.
Certain medications can reduce your body’s capability to fight off fungal infections. This can allow fungi to grow rampantly.
7. Poor Hygiene
It should go without saying, but poor hygiene can greatly expose you to the possibility of fungal infections. To reduce this, you’ll want to regularly wash your hands and take steps to keep your skin dry.
Can You Get Fungal Infections Based on the Changing Seasons
While fungal infections aren’t directly related to the change of seasons, there are other aspects that can have an impact on the possibility of developing one. For example, warmer summer months can cause excessive sweating and, therefore, can make the growth of fungi more prevalent.
Additionally, rainy seasons such as spring and fall can also promote the presence of fungus on the skin or nails.
Ways to Minimize the Possibility of Fungal Infections
There are several steps you can take to prevent the growth of fungus on your skin and nails. These include:
1. Wear Clean, Dry Clothes
You may notice a pattern here. Keeping your clothes clean and dry will inhibit the possibility of fungus growing, reducing the overall chances of contracting a fungal infection.
2. Avoid Tight Clothes and Shoes
Tight clothes and enclosed shoes can greatly promote sweating and, therefore, increase the presence of fungus.
3. Bathe Daily
Having a regular bathing routine can cleanse your body of fungal buildup and can prevent the overgrowth of fungi that leads to infection.
4. Keep Nails Short and Clean
Maintaining short, clean nails is a great way to reduce the possibility of fungi inhabiting your skin or nails.
5. Avoid Walking Barefoot
Contact with moisture, such as in showers and locker rooms, is a common way to contract a fungal infection. Using sandals and restricting contact with potentially contaminated surfaces can minimize this possibility.
Even your diet can greatly impact the possibility of developing a fungal infection. Foods that contain probiotics, or beneficial forms of bacteria, can exacerbate the growth of fungi.
Winston Salem Dermatology Is Your Dedicated Expert for All Skin Conditions
For all skin conditions, you can trust Winston Salem Dermatology to help. We have years of experience assisting patients in identifying and treating a wide range of skin conditions. From acne and psoriasis to fungal infections and skin cancer, our licensed dermatologists and skincare experts are ready to assist you!
We’re also proud to offer an extensive lineup of cosmetic skin treatments and procedures that can help you reinvigorate your skin and reclaim your youthful glow. Ask us about some of our proven treatments!
So, if you suffer from any skin condition or want to freshen your appearance, give Winston Salem Dermatology a call at (336) 774-8636! We’ll be happy to help you take care of your skin. After all, we only have one!