The most common areas affected by skin fungi are: head, feet, fingernails and toenails, mouth and vagina.
Mushrooms need a warm and moist place to grow, i.e. the warm and sweaty skin, especially between the toes, in the groin and under the armpits.
Types of skin fungi
Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) In the UK,
about one person in five has athlete’s foot. It is caused by a fungus that forms on warm and moist skin zones, for example between the toes.
The fungal infection causes itching, scaling, red spots on the skin, blisters and a foul odor.
It also causes the appearance of white-colored lesions, especially between the toes and on the edge of the foot. Only sometimes it comes to the formation of blisters.
Infection of athlete’s foot occurs when the affected person walks barefoot on damp ground, such as in communal showers, swimming pools or saunas.
Untreated athlete’s foot can lead to complications such as bacterial superinfection.
Nail fungus (tinea unguium)
The fungal nail infection usually starts at the edge of the nail and spreads slowly to the root. It spreads very slowly. The infection can lead to discoloration and brittleness of the nail. The surrounding tissue can also often thicken. The nail can thicken so much from a certain moment that it can also be painful to wear shoes. Normally, toenails are affected more often than fingernails.
The fungal nail infection can also be caused by athlete’s foot as it spreads all the way to the nails. An infection can also occur if the nail is weakened, for example due to a previous injury.
Ringworm (tinea corporis)
Ringworm often affects exposed parts of the body such as arms, legs or face, causing redness in the form of a circle.
The ringworm is infectious.
It can be transmitted through contact with someone suffering from ringworm or through objects that are contaminated, such as clothing or bedding.
It should also be noted that pets such as sheep, cattle and small animals can be carriers of the fungi that cause ringworm.
In immunocompromised patients or those who have undergone long-term treatment with certain medications, such as cortisone, the disease can become chronic.
There is a type of this tinea, called black pityriasis, which causes dark brown or black spots on the palms and soles of the feet.
Ringworm in the groin area (tinea inguinalis, also incorrectly referred to as tinea cruris)
Ringworm in the groin is common in adolescents. This type of infection develops because the scrotum and thigh are in close contact with each other, thus creating conditions that favor fungal growth.
Ringworm in the groin region can affect the genital area in women who wear too tight-fitting laundry. This can cause itching and redness in the groin and genital area.
Like the ringworm of the body, the one in the groin area is contagious and can be transmitted in the same way. Inguinal tinea can also be transmitted by athlete’s foot if, after touching the foot, the groin region is touched without first washing your hands.
Scalp ringworm (tinea capitis)
Scalp ringworm can occur at any age, but it particularly affects children before puberty. This condition can occur on any part of the scalp and usually appears in the form of circular spots.
The symptoms may be similar to those of ringworm of the groin and body. The scalp is scaly and itchy.
In the neck and behind the ears, places with a purulent inclusion, called “kerion”, can also form.
During the infection, the hair can fall out and bald spots develop. The hair grows back once the infection has been treated.
Often the shared use of a contaminated comb or the clothing of an infected person is the reason for a transmission of tinea to the scalp.
Some fungal infections of the skin are caused by yeasts, such as the following.
is a fungal infection that can remain in skin folds, for example in an abdominal fold in obesity. Intertrigo is often caused by the yeast Candida albicans.
The infection especially affects those areas of the body where the skin is pressed or rubbed together (for example, through clothing), which leads to irritation. With Intertrigo, the skin turns red or brown, if the environment is very moist, it can macerate.
Pityriasis versicolor (Tinea versicolor) Pityriasis versicolor (or bran lichen)
is a condition caused by a type of yeast called Malassezia furfur. It is a fairly common disease and affects adolescents after puberty.
In pityriasis versicolor, scaly, itchy and color-altered zones may occur on the back, arms and upper body. The color is usually pink, brown or red.
The action of the sun, e.g. at the sea, causes the death and rejection of the fungal cell colonies. In this case, bright spots are formed in the affected areas.
Thrush (candidiasis) Thrush (caused by Candida albicans)
is a common fungus that often occurs in the mouth, gastric lining, skin and vagina of women.
Thrush usually does not cause any problems. Yeast can multiply and cause symptoms of candidiasis in case of illness, pregnancy, while taking antibiotics or diabetes.
Thrush infection presents itself with small, white patches that leave a reddened spot after trying to remove them. In women, Candida vaginal can cause intimate itching and whitish discharge.
Thrush can affect the oral cavity of newborns, hence the name “oral thrush”. It is easy to confuse the white spots of thrush infection with milk residues. As a rule, the condition is not serious, but babies affected by thrush in the throat may have difficulty getting food properly as a result. Toddlers can also develop thrush in the diaper area.
What are the causes and risk factors?
Candida becomes pathogenic when conditions favorable to its development are created. Candida can be favored by warmth and lack of hygiene or too tight clothing.
People who have an increased risk of developing candida include:
- Persons who have undergone antibiotic therapy
- People with inflammatory diseases
- People with a weakened immune system
- People working in a humid environment
- Expectant mother
Recognizing the symptoms of infection
Depending on the affected body region, the symptoms vary. Among them are:
- Rash (itchy areas and redness)
- red-violet spots (areas with altered surface)
- white and yellow substances on the affected area.
- Flaking of the skin
- Fissures in the skin (skin tears)
- Wound development
- Erythema (reddened area)
- Maceration (softened, whitish skin)
- thick pustules in the affected zones (pus-filled pimples)
Signs and symptoms
Tinea pedis (athlete’s foot) is an infection that is very common among North Americans and Europeans. As a rule, the affected skin areas cause itching and on the sole of the foot formation of plaques of various sizes, which extend sideways and between the toes, often with maceration of the skin.
tinea inguinalis (ringworm in the groin area) develops in the groin and on the upper inner thigh and buttocks, it is characterized by the appearance of annular spots of different sizes; the disease is more common in men and usually also affects the scrotum.
Tinea capitis (or fungal infection of the scalp) occurs mainly in children. The main features of the disease are scaly and reddened skin, which often causes hair loss. Tinea capitis can resemble seborrheic dermatitis.
Kerion Celsi is an inflammatory form of tinea capitis, characterized by the formation of moist bumps, usually accompanied by hair loss and regional lymph node swelling.
The ringworm of the body (tinea corporis), face (tinea faciei) and hand fungus (tinea manum) are infections in different areas of the body, each with circular spots of different sizes.
Tinea unguium (or onychomycosis) is a fungal disease of the nail, characterized by thickened, yellowish nails and subungual detritus.
Symptoms and signs of candida
Intertriginous candidiasis (or candida) is a specific infection in skin folds (armpits, groin) characterized by reddened plaque buildup, often surrounded by pustules.
Paronychia is an acute or chronic infection of the nail bed and causes swelling, pain, edema and erythema, often with pus leakage; this condition often occurs in diabetics.
Cheilitis angularis (or corners of the mouth) causes cracks and scaly, reddened skin in the corner of the mouth, often occurs in diabetics and patients with excessive salivation, or in those who continue to lick their lips.
Candidomycetica vulgovaginitis is an acute inflammation of the vaginal perineal area, characterized by itching, redness and scaly skin and mucosa, clear discharge and peripheral pustules. On the other hand, men may develop balanitis, which is characterized by red spots on the glans penis that can pass to the scrotum.
Diagnosis of skin fungi
Small skin samples are taken from the affected area, which are examined under a microscope to determine the presence of fungi.
This study will be continued with potassium hydroxide solution (KOH).
To detect tinea versicolor, a test procedure with a Wood lamp is used, which is an instrument that emits UVA and other rays to make the stains more visible.
Treatment options for tinea corporis
After confirming that a fungus is the cause of the infection, the following treatment options can be made with regard to the disease:
Treatment with over-the-counter (OTC) medications – in mild cases of tinea corporis, the use of over-the-counter medications (lotions, ointments and local antifungal creams) may already be sufficient. It is recommended to use the funds once or twice a day for 2 weeks (or longer).
Prescription medications – if over-the-counter drugs are not successful, the doctor may prescribe medications that consist of a combination of topical and oral drugs.
Treatment of ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis)
The doctor should be able to diagnose the infection by examining the scalp. For a test, hair and dandruff of the scalp are examined. After correct diagnosis, the following methods of treatment can be used:
Antifungal drugs – to treat the infection, medications are available for oral use, either as tablets or as liquid. The medication should be taken over a period of 6 weeks as directed by the doctor.
Medical shampoos – the doctor may recommend washing the head with a shampoo 2 to 3 times a week or according to the underlying clinical picture.
Treatment of thrush colpitis
Rare candidiasis – for a mild and moderate infection, short-term vaginal therapy and a single administration of oral medication are sufficient. The doctor may prescribe an antifungal ointment, such as clotrimazole (Canesten), tablets or a cream. He can also prescribe an antifungal drug in the form of a suppository.
Some doctors recommend an antifungal tablet, such as itroconazole (Sempera, Sporanox) or terbinafine (Lamisil), which is also used for tinea versicolor and other fungal infections.
Frequent candidiasis – In order to cure the infection, a longer vaginal treatment time along with multiple doses of an oral medication may be required. Therapy should be carried out over 7-14 days using antifungal creams, ointments, suppositories or tablets.
Can natural remedies such as tea tree oil (extracted from the leaves of the Melaleuca Alternifolia tree in Australia) help treat fungal infections?
Initial research has shown that tea tree oil is effective against some types of fungi.
However, there is not yet enough evidence to recommend this product for the treatment of fungal infections.
Against athlete’s foot, a foot bath in a bowl of water with baking soda for at least 15 minutes a day is recommended.
In the case of onychomycosis (nail fungus), a bath in a washing bowl with the addition of hydrogen peroxide can be useful for disinfection.
Among traditional home remedies, sulfur-containing creams have antifungal properties and can help treat mycoses.
How long does skin fungus last? Prognosis
No precise times are known, but fungi usually pass after a therapy of 3 to 4 weeks.
Often there is a recurrence.