What is a fungal infection?
For most people, developing an unsightly skin fungus may be pretty embarrassing. But such infections are actually fairly common. In fact, it’s estimated that at any one time in the United States, at least one in five people are suffering from athlete's food, a particular type of skin condition resulting fungal infection.
Most of the types of fungus that affect skin are actually organisms known as dermatophytes. These dermatophytes like to set up camp on skin because they feast on keratin, a strong, fibrous protein that makes up much of your skin (as well as nails and hair, where fungus can also thrive).
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that, besides keratin, fungus loves two things: warmth and moisture. This is why it so often settles on sweaty feet and inside shoes. Skin fungus is contagious and can spread, not just from person to person, but also from animals, clothing and fabric.
At the Dermatological Center for Skin Health, we treat a variety of fungal skin infections including ringworm and yeast.
Ringworm is a common term referring to a fungal infection that develops on the top layer of your skin. It's characterized by a red circular rash with clearer skin in the middle. It may or may not itch. Ringworm gets its name because of the skin affected has a ringlike rash. Rest assured there are no actual worms in your skin.
Ringworm on the body, also called tinea corporis, is closely related to athlete's foot (tinea pedis), jock itch (tinea cruris) and ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis). Ringworm often spreads by direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or animal.
Ringworm typically begins as a flat scaly area on the skin, which may be red and itchy. This patch develops a slightly raised border that expands outward forming a rough circular ring. The contours of the ring may be quite irregular, resembling the wavy outline of a snake or a worm.
The interior of the ring may be clear, scaly or marked with a scattering of red bumps. In some people, several rings develop at the same time and may overlap.
Antifungal medications are used to treat ringworm. Mild ringworm often responds to antifungal products that you apply to your skin. For more-severe infections, you may need to take antifungal pills.
Yeast (also known as candida) is a type of fungus that commonly infects the skin. It most often it occurs in warm, moist areas such as the armpits, groin, and other skin folds.
Skin infections caused by candida may be found:
In the diaper area in babies
In the armpits, groin, and underneath the breasts
At the corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis)
In toenails, or at the edge of the nails (paronychia)
Candida infection is more common in people with a weakened immune system due to certain medications and diseases like AIDS and diabetes. It is also common in people who are obese.
Candida infection of the skin can cause intense itching. Symptoms also include:
Red, growing skin rash
Rash on the skin folds, genitals, middle of the body, buttocks, under the breasts, and other areas of skin
Good general health and hygiene is very important for treating candida infections of the skin. Keeping the skin dry and exposed to air is helpful. Drying powders may also help prevent fungal infections.
Losing weight may help if you are overweight.
Proper blood sugar control may also be helpful to those with diabetes.
Antifungal skin powders or creams may be used to treat a yeast infection of the skin.