Fungal infections

Almost all fungal infections are caused by a type of parasitic fungi known as dermophytes that infect the skin, hair or nails. Fungi are microscopic organisms consisting of cells such as mould, mildews and yeast. They are saprophytes that absorb nutrients from the skin. Fungal infections are not uncommon and are mostly easy to treat.

Fungal infections of the skin are also known as ringworm and are of several types, including body ringworm (tinea corporis), jock itch (tinea cruris), athlete’s foot (tinea pedis), face ringworm (tinea faciei) and nail ringworm (tinea unguium).

How do Fungal Infections Spread?

Fungal infections dwell in warm, moist areas of the skin, such as in the underarms, in the groin and between fingers or toes. Most fungal infections spread quite easily, carried by various modes like towels, combs, pillows and pets. Contact of the infected area can also cause the fungal infection to spread.

What are the Symptoms of Fungal Infections?

The symptoms of some of the most common fungal infections are as follows:

  • Ringworm appears like a ring-shaped, pink or red rash, with a very clear center, and itches a little.
  • Jock itch looks like a red ring-shaped rash that appears around the groin area. It can be extremely itchy and painful.
  • Athlete’s foot appears between the toes, making the skin scaly and sore. The first sign is a rash. Athlete’s foot should be treated quickly because its makes the skin more prone to bacterial infection.
  • Nail ringworm causes the infected nail(s) to look thick and dull. Toenails are more susceptible to this infection than fingernails. The infected part of the nail may break off from the rest of the nail.
  • Scalp ringworm causes an itchy scalp and hair loss in the infected parts.

How to Treat Fungal Infections?

Proper diagnosis is very important for detecting fungal infections. This may be done by scraping a tiny piece of skin from the affected area to examine under a microscope. This will determine the type of fungus. Fungal infections can be treated by applying an antifungal cream on the affected area. Scalp ringworm can be treated with special shampoo. Jock itch infected persons should wear loose fitting clothes and avoid soap on the affected area. Antibiotics may be prescribed if the infection has advanced significantly before treatment begins.

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