Fungal infection
4 most common superficial fungal infections are athlete’s foot, ringworm, jock itch, and genital candidiasis

A fungus is a microscopic organism that can be found anywhere in the atmosphere, such as:

Thousands of varieties of fungus are present in the environment, a few are responsible for human infections. When a fungus settles on the skin, a rash may be produced that causes itching, redness, and irritation.

Various infections are caused by a fungus, among which the most common fungal infection is superficial or skin infection.

4 most common superficial fungal infections

  1. Athlete’s foot
  2. Ringworm
  3. Jock itch
  4. Genital candidiasis

Athlete’s foot fungal infection

Athlete's foot (tinea pedis), often called ringworm of the foot, is a fungal infection of the skin on the bottom of the foot caused by a dermatophyte.

Athlete's foot, the most prevalent fungal illness in humans, can be transmitted to humans by direct contact with diseased individuals, infected animals, and contaminated things, such as:

  • Shared towels
  • Locker room flooring
  • The soil

Athlete’s foot is caused by

  • Trichophyton rubrum
  • T interdigitale
  • Epidermophyton floccosum

The athlete's foot may affect people of different ages, ethnicities, and genders; however, it is more frequent in men than in women. It is uncommon among children.

6 symptoms of athlete’s foot

  • Itch and white patches between toes
  • The skin may turn red
  • May produce sore and flaky patches on the skin
  • The skin under the feet may crack open and bleed
  • The soles may be affected, and fluid-filled blisters may be formed
  • If it is left untreated or develops into a severe infection, the toenails may be affected causing fungal nail infection

Treatment of athlete’s foot

Athletes’ foot fungal infection usually needs medical attention because it does not subside on its own. With the use of antifungal medications, it gets cured within a few weeks.

Ringworm fungal infection

Tinea corporis, commonly called ringworm of the body or just ringworm, is a widespread fungal infection of the skin's surface.

Ringworm fungal infection is not caused by a worm, but it is caused by a fungus called dermatophyte. The infection presents itself as red ring-shaped spots with a raised scaly border that range in size from 1 to 10 cm.

Ringworm is transmitted from person to person by direct skin-to-skin contact or through contact with infected things, such as combs, unclean clothing, and shower surfaces. Some pets including cats and dogs and other domestic animals (including cows, goats, horses, and pigs) can carry the fungus and spread it to humans.

Athletes are at the risk of getting ringworm because dermatophytes flourish in warm, damp environments. Athletes are likely to sweat and be around people who are sweating. Therefore, prevention is so crucial.

3 types of ringworm fungal infection

  1. Majocchi's granuloma: A more serious fungal infection affecting the skin, hair, and hair follicles. Women who shave their legs are more likely to have it.
  2. Tinea corporis gladiatorum: A term given to tinea corporis transmitted by wrestlers through skin-to-skin contact.
  3. Tinea imbricata: A kind of tinea corporis that may be found in Central and South America, Asia, and the South Pacific.

6 symptoms of ringworm

  1. Patches of itchy, red, raised, scaly skin that may blister and leak
  2. Edges that are sharply defined in the shape of a circle or ring
  3. Redder on the perimeter, with normal skin tone in the middle
  4. Skin color may be abnormally dark or light
  5. Scalp bald patches
  6. Discolored, thick, or crumbling finger and toenails

Treatment for ringworm

Topical antifungal therapy, which includes:

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Jock itch fungal infection

Jock itch (tinea cruris) is a fungal infection of the skin at the groin. It is frequently transferred to the groin from a tinea infection on the feet, also called tinea pedis and athlete's foot. It may be seen in the inner thighs along with the groin and may spread to the abdomen.

Jock itch is quite widespread all around the world although it is more prevalent in warm, damp climates where the fungus grows.

Jock itch is more common in those who wear tight clothing for long periods, share clothing, indulge in athletics or are overweight or diabetic. Adult men are more prone to it.

6 symptoms of jock itch

  1. Redness
  2. Burning sensation
  3. Persistent itching
  4. Flaking
  5. Peeling
  6. Cracking skin rash that worsens with exercise or activity, changes in skin color does not improve or spread despite using over-the-counter hydrocortisone (anti-itch) cream

Treatment of jock itch

Over-the-counter antifungal lotions are quite effective, such as:

  • Miconazole
  • Clotrimazole
  • Tolnaftate

Apply the lotion two times a day until the rash appears to be gone, which usually takes two to three weeks. For several weeks, there may be flat, brown spots of discoloration, but they do not need to be treated if there is no itching or lumps and scales in the region.

Reinfection can be avoided. Keep the region cool and dry by completely drying the body after showering and wearing loose cotton clothes. Warm water should be used to wash clothes and linens.

Yeast fungal infection

Candidiasis often called a yeast infection, is an infection caused by Candida albicans, which is a common yeast or fungal organism present in the environment. This yeast can sometimes be found in the mouth, stomach (gastrointestinal tract), and vagina.

They may reside with a variety of harmless bacteria, without creating any problems; however, in some situations, the fungus will grow and cause sickness, such as:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Prolonged use of antibiotics or corticosteroids
  • When a person is on treatment modalities against cancer
  • Individuals with diabetes

Depending on the location affected, yeast infections can take many forms. Because yeast thrives in moist environments, it is most typically found in the mouth, vagina, and wetter skin regions.

Most yeast infections are superficial and treatable. However, significant life-threatening yeast infections can spread throughout the body in patients with compromised immune systems.

4 common types of yeast infection

  1. Oral thrush: The lining inside the mouth, tongue, and mouth angles are involved. They turn red and cracked. There may be some white spots in those regions and some discomfort or no symptoms at all.
  2. Cutaneous (skin): Small to large patches of red, damp, raw skin that form in body folds, such as under the breasts, tummy, or crotch. Itching or soreness in the skin is possible. Around the margins of the red regions, little pus-filled lesions (pustules) may form.
  3. Vaginitis: Vaginitis is characterized by vaginal itch, soreness, or burning, which may be followed by a cottage cheese-like discharge. Sexual intercourse is generally painful.
  4. Esophagitis: Esophagitis may be unpleasant or make swallowing difficult, and there may be pain behind the breastbone.

7 treatment options for yeast infections

  1. Most yeast infections may be avoided by keeping body-fold regions clean and dry
  2. Individuals with diabetes should maintain appropriate blood sugar control
  3. Combination therapy of over-the-counter antifungal creams is prescribed to treat the infection, which includes:
    • Clotrimazole or miconazole two times daily for 10 to 14 days with hydrocortisone cream 0.5 to 1 percent administered two times daily after the antifungal cream
  4. Nonpregnant women can treat vaginitis with an over-the-counter vaginal suppository or antifungal ointment miconazole or clotrimazole
  5. Obese patients should lose weight
  6. Usually, the woman's partner does not require therapy if they do not present any symptoms
  7. Avoid sexual activity until the yeast infection has healed

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Medically Reviewed on 1/3/2022
References
Cleveland Clinic. Skin Fungus. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4276-skin-fungus

Sepsis Alliance. Fungal Infections. https://www.sepsis.org/sepsisand/fungal-infections/

Cedars-Sinai. Tinea Infection. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/health-library/diseases-and-conditions/t/tinea-infection.html