Fungi Overview of Fungal Infections Fungi are living organisms, but they are not plants or animals. All living things are divided into categories called kingdoms, and fungi have their own kingdom. Some fungi cause infections in... read more usually live in moist areas of the body where skin surfaces meet: between the toes, in the genital area, and under the breasts. Yeasts and molds are types of fungi.
Candida Candidiasis (Yeast Infection) Candidiasis is infection with the yeast Candida. Candidiasis tends to occur in moist areas of the skin. This skin infection may cause rashes, scaling, itching, and swelling. Doctors examine... read more and Malassezia furfur Tinea Versicolor Tinea versicolor is a fungal infection of the topmost layer of the skin that causes scaly, discolored patches. This infection is caused by a type of fungus. Typically, people have tan, brown... read more are yeasts that cause common fungal infections.
Epidermophyton, Microsporum, and Trichophyton are dermatophytes Overview of Dermatophytoses (Ringworm, Tinea) Dermatophytoses are fungal infections of the skin and nails caused by several different fungi and classified by the location on the body. Dermatophyte infections are also called ringworm or... read more that cause fungal infections. Dermatophytes are molds (a type of fungi).
Many of these fungi live only in the outermost layer of the skin (stratum corneum Structure and Function of the Skin The skin is the body’s largest organ. It serves many important functions, including Protecting the body against trauma Regulating body temperature Maintaining water and electrolyte balance Sensing... read more ) and do not penetrate deeper.
People with obesity are more likely to develop these infections because they have excessive skinfolds, especially if the skin within a skinfold becomes irritated and broken down (intertrigo Intertrigo Intertrigo is irritation and breakdown of skin (maceration) in areas where two skin surfaces rub together. Sometimes bacterial or yeast infections develop. The diagnosis is based on the location... read more ). People with diabetes Diabetes Mellitus (DM) Diabetes mellitus is a disorder in which the body does not produce enough or respond normally to insulin, causing blood sugar (glucose) levels to be abnormally high. Symptoms of diabetes may... read more tend to be more susceptible to fungal infections as well.
Strangely, fungal infections on one part of the body can cause rashes to appear on other parts of the body that are not infected. For example, a fungal infection on the foot may cause an itchy, bumpy rash on the fingers. These eruptions, called dermatophytid reactions Dermatophytid Reaction A dermatophytid reaction is the body's reaction to a dermatophyte (fungal) infection and is a skin eruption that appears on an area of the body that is not the area where the infection first... read more , are allergic reactions to the fungus. They do not result from touching the infected area.
Diagnosis of Fungal Skin Infections
Skin scrapings or cultures
Doctors may suspect a fungal infection when they see a red, irritated, or scaly rash in one of the commonly affected areas.
They can usually confirm the diagnosis of a fungal skin infection by scraping Scrapings Doctors can identify many skin disorders simply by looking at the skin. A full skin examination includes examination of the scalp, nails, and mucous membranes. Sometimes the doctor uses a hand-held... read more off a small amount of skin and having it examined under a microscope or placed in a culture medium Culture Doctors can identify many skin disorders simply by looking at the skin. A full skin examination includes examination of the scalp, nails, and mucous membranes. Sometimes the doctor uses a hand-held... read more where the specific fungus can grow and be identified.
Treatment of Fungal Skin Infections
Measures to prevent moisture
Fungal infections are typically treated with antifungal medications, usually with ones that are applied directly to the affected area (called topical medications). Topical medications may include creams, gels, lotions, solutions, or shampoos.
Antifungal medications may also be taken by mouth.
In addition to medications, people may use measures to keep the affected areas dry, such as applying powders or wearing open-toed shoes.
Corticosteroids can help relieve inflammation and itching caused by some infections, but these should be used only when prescribed by a doctor.