Although there are millions of fungal species, only about 300 of them can cause infections in humans. There are several fungal infections that can affect your skin. In the following article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common fungal infections and ways to treat and prevent them.
What is fungal disease?
Fungal disease or fungal infection is common because fungi live everywhere. They can be found in plants, soil, and even your skin. These microscopic organisms on your skin typically do not cause any problems unless they multiply faster than normal or penetrate your skin through a cut or lesion.
Because fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, fungal infections can often develop in sweaty or damp areas without much airflow. E.g; these include the foot, groin, and skin folds.
Usually, these infections present as a scaly rash or discoloration with itchy skin.
Some types of fungal disease are very common. While the infection can be bothersome, it is usually not serious.
What are the causes of fungal disease?
Fungal infection causes generally include:
- Hot and humid climate, sweating a lot or wearing damp clothes can cause fungal disease to develop.
- Diabetes , HIV/AIDS , cancer etc. A weakened immune system due to the underlying disease, such as fungal infections can cause.
- Living in an unclean environment and not practicing personal hygiene can cause fungal infections.
- Wearing dirty clothing, such as unclean socks and underwear, can lead to fungal infections.
- Wearing very tight clothing can cause sweating, which can lead to the development of fungal infections.
- Obesity can lead to fungal infections. Moisture can be trapped in the skin folds, giving the fungus a breeding ground.
- Stress can compromise our immune system and lead to fungal disease.
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to vaginal yeast infections.
What are the types and symptoms of fungal disease?
Many common fungal infections can affect the skin. In addition to the skin, another common site for fungal infections is the mucous membranes. Some examples of these are vaginal yeast infections and oral thrush.
Listed below are the most common fungal diseases that can affect the skin:
Body fungus (tinea corporis)
Tinea corporis is also caused by a fungus. It is usually seen on the trunk and limbs. Since its name is not very familiar to our language, it is generally known as body fungus among the people.
The main symptom of body fungus is a ring-shaped rash with slightly raised edges. The skin within these circular rashes usually appears healthy. The rash may spread and is often itchy.
Tinea corporis is a common fungal infection and is highly contagious. It’s not serious though and can usually be treated with an antifungal cream.
athlete’s foot (tinea pedis)
athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that affects the skin on your feet, usually between your toes. Typical symptoms of athlete’s foot include:
- Itching, burning and stinging sensation between your toes or on the soles of your feet
- Skin that looks red, dry, or flaky
- cracked or blistered skin
In some cases, the infection can spread to other parts of your body. E.g; it can spread to your nails, groin, or hands.
Fungus (tinea cruris)
Inguinal fungus is a type of fungal disease that occurs in your groin and thighs. It is even more common in boys and adolescent boys.
The main symptom of jock itch is an itchy red rash that usually starts in the groin area or around the upper inner thighs. The rash may worsen after exercise or other physical activity and may spread to the buttocks and abdomen.
Affected skin may also appear scaly or cracked. The outer border of the rash may be slightly elevated and darker than other skin areas.
Hair fungus (tinea capitis)
Fungal disease known as the rheumatoid arthritis affects the scalp and associated hair. It is common in young children and needs to be treated with antifungal shampoo along with prescription oral medications. Ringworm symptoms can include:
- Localized bald patches that may appear scaly or red
- Itching in related areas
- Tenderness or pain in related areas
Skin fungus (tinea versicolor)
Tinea versicolor is a fungal/yeast skin infection that causes small, oval white patches to develop on the skin. This is caused by an overgrowth of a certain type of fungus called Malassezia , which is found naturally on the skin of about 90 percent of adults .
These white patches of skin appear most often on the back, chest, and upper arms. Sometimes it may appear lighter or darker than the rest of your skin and may be red, pink, tan or brown. These patches are itchy and scaly.
Tinea versicolor is more likely during the summer months or in areas with warm, wet climates. Sometimes it can develop again after being treated.
Skin fungus (cutaneous candidiasis)
This is a skin disease caused by Candida fungi. These types of fungi are naturally found inside our bodies. When it overgrows, it can become an infection.
Candida skin infections occur in hot, humid and poorly ventilated areas. Some examples of typical areas that may be affected include the under breasts and hip folds.
Symptoms of a Candida infection may include:
- red rash
- small areas of red skin
Onychomycosis (nail fungus)
Onychomycosis, also known as nail fungus , is a type of fungal disease that develops on your nails. Although infections of the toenails are more common, they can also affect the fingernails.
Possible symptoms of nail fungus include :
- Usually yellow, brown or white areas on the nails
- brittle nails
- thickening of nails
Prescription medications are often required to treat this type of infection. In severe cases, your doctor may remove some or all of an affected nail.
When to see a doctor for fungal disease?
Many types of fungal infections heal on their own with home remedies. However, it is recommended that you see a doctor in the following situations:
- If you have a yeast infection that does not improve, gets worse, or returns after home treatment
- If you experience hair loss along with itching or scaly skin
- If the immune system is weakened and a fungal infection is suspected
- If you are diabetic and suspected of fungal disease
How is fungal disease treated?
Antifungal medications are often prescribed by a doctor to treat fungal infections. These drugs can directly kill fungi or inhibit their growth and development.
Antifungal medications come in a variety of forms, including:
- Creams or ointments
If you suspect that you have a fungal disease, you can use this medicine by consulting your doctor to see if it helps to relieve the condition.
In more persistent or severe cases, your doctor may prescribe a stronger antifungal medication to help treat your infection.
What is good for fungal disease?
Here are the things that are good for fungal disease:
1- Yogurt and probiotics
Yogurt and other probiotics contain plenty of good bacteria that help ward off many fungal infections. These fight the germs that cause fungal infections. Fermented foods are another excellent source of probiotics.
2- Soap and water
You can clean the affected area with soap and water twice a day before applying any home remedies or other remedies. This will control the spread of the infection.
3- Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has antifungal properties. You can mix two tablespoons of lukewarm water and drink it, or dip a cotton ball in it and rub it over your fungal-affected skin. Doing this three times a day should produce beneficial results.
Related article: What are the benefits and harms of apple cider vinegar?
4- Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is naturally antifungal and antibacterial. Mix it with any carrier oil like coconut oil or olive oil and rub it on the infected area three to four times a day. This is one of the most effective home remedies to treat a yeast infection.
Related article: What are the benefits of tea tree oil?
4- Coconut oil
Coconut oil works as a powerful antifungal agent. Applying it on the skin makes it a good and safe topical remedy. It is also useful in the treatment of hair fungus (ringworm). You can apply it on the affected skin three times a day.
Related article: What are the skin benefits of coconut oil?
Turmeric is a powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory spice. Mix turmeric with some water and apply it to the fungal infection area. You can mix it with warm water or drink turmeric tea to benefit the inner parts of the body.
6- Aloe vera
One of the most tested natural remedies for curing any skin infection is aloe vera. It not only treats the infection, but also soothes and repairs skin damage.
Related article: What are the skin benefits of aloe vera?
Garlic is one of the most powerful antifungal and antimicrobial herbs. Those who regularly consume garlic are less susceptible to fungal disease. You can make a paste by crushing a few garlics with a little olive oil. Applying this to the infected area for about thirty minutes will be effective.
Gingerol, found in ginger, has powerful antifungal properties. Adding ginger to our diet in the form of ginger tea helps effectively prevent and treat fungal infections like Candida .
Can fungal disease be prevented?
To prevent the development of fungal disease, you can keep the following tips in mind:
- Make sure you practice good hygiene.
- Do not share clothes, towels or other personal items.
- Wear clean clothes every day, especially changing socks and underwear daily.
- Choose clothes and shoes that breathe well. Avoid very tight or restrictive-fitting clothing or shoes.
- Make sure to dry it properly with a clean, dry towel after showering, bathing or swimming.
- Instead of walking barefoot in locker rooms, use sandals or flip-flops.
- Wipe down shared surfaces such as gym equipment or mats.
- Stay away from animals with signs of fungal infection.
Fungal disease is quite common. While these infections are not usually serious, they can cause discomfort and irritation due to itchy or scaly red skin. If left untreated, the rash may spread or become more irritated.
There are many medications available at the pharmacy that can help treat fungal infections. However, you should definitely consult your doctor for fungi that do not go away with the medicine recommended by the pharmacist. You may need a prescription for more effective treatment.