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Fungal Skin Infection

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Definition

Infection of the skin caused by a fungus. A variety of micro-organisms like bacteria, mold-like (dermatophytes or tinea), and yeast-like fungi (Candida) are normally present on the skin. Some of these are useful to the body and are known as good bugs. Others may, under proper conditions, multiply rapidly and cause infections.

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Causes

Fungal skin infections can be grouped as:

  • Ringworm Infections - caused by a a mold-like fungus (dermatophytes) called tinea. These fungi live on the dead tissues of the hair, nails and outer skin layers. According to its location on the body, tinea infection can be sub-divided into :
    • Tinea pedis - ringworm infection on the feet (athlete's foot)
    • Tinea capitis - ringworm infection of the scalp
    • Tinea cruris - ringworm infection of the groin, also called jock itch
    • Tinea corporis - ringworm infection of the skin
  • Candida Infections - Cutaneous candidiasis is an infection of the skin caused by the fungus Candida albicans. It may involve almost any skin surface on the body, but usually occurs in warm, moist areas such as armpits and groins. Oral thrush is a form of candida infection found on the mucous membranes of the mouth and vaginal yeast infections are extremely common candida infections.
Ringworm Infection
  Athlete's foot
(heels, toes)
(Tinea Pedis)
Scalp
(Tinea capitis)
Groin
(Tinea cruris)
Skin
(Tinea corporis)
S
y
m
p
t
o
m
s
  • Itching, burning, sensation of the skin
  • Rash
  • Redness
  • Blisters that may ooze or crust
  • Raw dry skin with cracks and scales
  • Skin discoloration and thickening
  • Itching
  • Round, scaly, gray or reddened bald patches
  • Hairs can be broken off but not missing
  • Small black dots on the scalp
  • Localized area of swelling, raw skin or pus filled lesions
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Rash without itching
  • Patches of skin rash with
    slightly raised, sharp borders
  • Dry or scaly blisters which may ooze or crust
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Distinct, scaly ring shaped
    reddened patch of skin with dark or light
    borders
  • C
    a
    u
    s
    e
    s
  • Poor hygiene
  • Closed toe shoes
  • Prolonged wetness of the skin from sweating in warm weather and during exercise
  • Minor skin cuts
  • Nail injuries
  • Poor hygiene
  • Prolonged wetness of the skin
  • Minor scalp injuries
  • Direct contact with infected individuals
  • Contaminated items such as combs, hats, clothing
  • Contact with pets
  • Passed by direct contact with affected individuals
  • Contact with contaminated items such as clothing
  • Persistent Jock itch may also be a cause of unexplained anal itching
  • Direct contact with affected individuals
  • Contact with contaminated personal items such as combs, clothing, shower, or pool surfaces.
  • Contact with pets
  • What

    You

    Can

    Do

  • Good personal hygiene.
  • Antifungal or drying powders
  • Wearing sandals at public pool
  • Drying the feet thoroughly after bathing or swimming
  • Wear absorbable preferably cotton socks
  • Change the socks on a daily basis to keep your feet dry.
  • Shoes should be made preferably of natural material such as leather.
  • Alternate between different pairs of shoes so each pair can dry completely between wearings.
  • Good general hygiene
  • Shampoo the scalp regularly especially after haircuts.
  • Avoid contact with infected individuals.
  • Avoid sharing personal items like combs, towels, headgear.
  • Wash your comb and hair brush thoroughly with soap and hot water
  • Good general hygiene
  • Keep the area clean and dry.
  • Use antifungal powder after bathing.
  • Avoid itching or rubbing
  • Wear loose and soft under clothing.
  • Wash athletic supports frequently.
  • Good general hygiene.
  • Avoid contact with infected pets
  • Clothing and items of personal use such as combs, hair brushes, towels and hats, that might have been used by an infected person, should be thoroughly cleaned and dried before reuse or use by another person to prevent the spread of the infection.
  • Wash the hands thoroughly after contact with any fungal infection
  • Use antifungal skin powder to treat the infection.
  •  

    Candida Infection
      Armpits, groin, around the corners of the mouth - angular cheilitis.

    S
    y
    m
    p
    t
    o
    m
    s
    • Intense itching
    • Skin rash, macule or papule
    • Redness
    • Infection of hair follicles (folliculitis), which may have a pimple-like appearance
    C
    a
    u
    s
    e
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    • Particularly common in individuals with diabetes and obese people.
    • Antibiotics
    • Oral contraceptives
    • Immunocompromised people with HIV, autoimmune diseases, people receiving cancer treatment, corticosteroid use

    What

    You

    Can

    Do

    • Good general health and hygiene help prevent candida infections.
    • Keep the skin clean and dry.
    • Drying or antifungal powders may help prevent fungal infections in people who are susceptible to them e.g. people with diabetes.
    • Weight loss and good sugar control in diabetics may help prevent these infections.


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    Rare Fungal Skin Infections

    • Blastomycosis - Blastomycosis is a fungal infection caused by Blastomyces dermatitidis. The skin becomes infected as the fungus spreads throughout the body. Skin lesions may be wart like or appear as ulcers and may affect the nose and mouth. It is acquired by inhaling fungal particles found in wood, moist soil, particularly amongst decaying vegetation. People with compromised immune systems such as HIV infection or organ transplant recipients are highly at risk for developing this infection.
    • Histoplasmosis - Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection caused by Histoplasma capsulatum. This fungus grows as a mold in soil contaminated with bird and bat droppings. The characteristic skin leisions of histoplasmosis appear as lumps or nodules. Elderly people or those who have underlying immune disorders such as AIDS are at higher risk for histoplasmosis infection.
    • Coccidioidomycosis - Coccidiodomycosis is a disease caused by the spores of the fungus, Coccidioides immitis which is often found in desert regions. Skin lesions of coccidioidomycosis are a manifestation in the skin of this fungal infection. The characteristic skin lesions can occur in the early stages of infection and appear either as ulcer, tender red papules, nodules (erythema nodosum) or as a hypersensitivity allergic skin rash (erythema multiforme). These rashes usually clear without treatment and are believed to be caused by an immune response to the infection.

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    Fungal Skin Infections