For most people, a fungal infection causes a mild skin rash or itching of the skin. Most infections develop on the skin, but can also affect the nails and hair.

If a person has a weak immune system due to a medical condition such as HIV or cancer, a fungal infection may be more severe.
Tinea is a medical name for fungal skin infections.

How Did I Get a Fungal Infection?

It is easy to get a fungal infection. Fungi, the plural term, spread easily from person to person.

Many people get a fungal infection through close personal contact with someone who has it, for example, sharing a contaminated object such as a towel or comb, or walking barefoot on a contaminated floor. Some people get it by touching an animal that has fungi on its fur.

People increase their risk of getting an infection when their skin stays wet for long periods. Fungi grow quickly in warm, moist areas. Underclothes, shower tiles, hot tubs, indoor tanning beds, and pool decks are common places for these organisms to grow.

What Are The Different Types Of Fungal Infections And How Are They Treated?

  • Athletes Foot (Tinea Pedis)
    Athletes foot usually starts between the toes, causing the skin to itch, peel, and flake. Without treatment, athletes’ foot can worsen. Some people even get itchy blisters on their feet. The bottom of your foot also may look dry and scaly. Most people catch athletes’ foot by walking barefoot through a public place such as a locker room or deck of a swimming pool.

    Sometimes, a dermatologist can tell if you have athlete’s foot by looking at your skin. Other times a medical test is necessary. Athlete’s foot can look like another skin condition such as contact dermatitis or psoriasis. These skin conditions also can cause a rash.

    If you have a mild case of athlete’s foot, an antifungal cream often works well to relieve the burning and itching. When the infection is more severe, a dermatologist may write a prescription for antifungal pills.
  • Nail Fungus (Onychomycosis, Tinea Unguium)
    This type of infection often affects the big toe. However, any or all nails may be involved. It can cause the nail to thicken and turn yellow. Sometimes the affected nail crumbles. This tends to be more common in people who have had athlete’s foot for a while or have injured a nail.

    Your fingernails can also be affected, but this is less common. Whether it affects the fingernails or toenails, it can be hard to treat. To clear a fungal infection, prescription antifungal medications that you brush on the nail or pills may be necessary. Some people find that nail contaminations return frequently.
  • Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris)
    Jock itch is a rash that begins in the groin area. This rash is itchy, can flake and has a red border. Jock itch affects both men and women. Individuals who sweat a lot may be more likely to develop jock itch. Treatment can include antifungal creams that are available without a prescription. See your dermatologist for prescription creams that may work faster.

  • Ringworm (Tinea Corporis)
    Ringworm causes a red, itchy, flaky patch that looks more like a ring as it grows. It is common to have several areas of ringworm at once in different body areas. Ringworm is very common in young children who spend time in close contact at daycare centers or schools.The infection also can affect dogs and cats, these pets can transmit to humans.

    There are antifungal creams available without a prescription that can treat ringworm. If the ringworm is persistent, your dermatologist may treat it with a prescription antifungal cream or antifungal pill.
  • Scalp Ringworm (Tinea Capitis)
    Scalp ringworm is most common in children. It can cause round, bald patches and flaking of the skin on the scalp. It is easily spread through shared brushes, hats or pillows. It is important to see a dermatologist for treatment. With the right treatment, any hair that is lost will often grow back in time.

Tips For Managing Infections?

To prevent a fungal contamination, or avoid getting it again, here are some things you can do.

  • To protect your feet from athlete’s foot, wear shower shoes, flip-flops, or sandals in gyms, shower or locker room areas, pools and hotel rooms.

  • When at the gym wipe down exercise equipment, particularly bicycle seats, and chairs, before and after use.

  • Avoid using another person’s personal items, especially if you know they have been contaminated. This includes towels, hair brushes, combs, and shoes.

  • Wash your hands if you have touched a contaminated part of your body or animal that has fungi. This will reduce your chances of getting or spreading it.

 

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