Fungal infection on skin is a skin disease due to fungi. Fungi are eukaryotic microorganisms. These are present in air, water, dirt and all physical surfaces. It is startling that fungi also exist on our skin and inside our body. While more than 1.5 million fungal species have been discovered, only about 300 of those have been identified as having the ability to make a person sick.
Here is a list of top 10 fungal infections on skin
- Ringworm of the body (tinea corporis)-
Ringworms, unlike the name, are not actual worms. Ringworms are one of the most common types of fungal infection around the world. Ringworms are caused by a species of fungi called dermatophytes. Trichophyton Rubrum, Trichophyton Mentagrophytes, Trichophyton Tonsurans and MicrosPorum Canis are the common dermatophytes that cause skin infection.
Ringworms are transmitted through direct skin contact via other infected humans, animals or from dirty surfaces such as dirt and soil. You are more prone to infection if you live in a humid or warm environment or wear tight clothing. Children and old people with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes are more prone to infection. Ringworms are superficial fungal infections commonly erupting in most body surfaces except scalp, feet, hand and groin area. These infections are circular or oval with scaly or patchy appearance and grow outward. It causes irritation, itch and even pain in the infected area.
Ringworms can be avoided by maintaining proper hygiene. Keep your skin dry and clean, change clothes regularly, keep finger and foot nails clean, avoid walking barefoot and not sharing personal belongings with the infected.
- Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis)-
Athlete’s foot is a type of fungal infection predominantly affecting the feet. Like ringworms, Athlete’s foot is caused by dermatophytes. Trichophyton Rubrum, Trichophyton Interdigitale and Epidermophyton floccosum are the most common dermatophytes that cause Athlete’s foot.
Athlete’s foot is majorly caused by excessive sweating, chronic use of enclosed footwear with poor air flow or sharing facilities like swimming pools and showers with an infected person. As the name suggests it is commonly seen in athletes and is more common in men than women. These infections appear on the feet with scaly texture between the toes and gradually spread across the soles, thickening with time. It may also cause the eruption of painful vesicles on the sole. Erosions and ulcers between the toenail and the skin also develop in later stages. It can be cured with topical Anti- fungal medications.
Athlete’s foot can be avoided by keeping toenails clean, keeping footwear clean and dry and avoiding walking barefoot. You should also avoid wearing socks that cannot soak sweat or do not get dry easily.
- Jock itch (tinea cruris)-
Jock itch is a fungal infection affecting the groin, buttocks and inner thigh area. Dermatophytes cause these fungal infections.
It is often caused due to fungal build up in the groin area due to poor hygiene and excessive sweating. Obesity is another risk factor for fungal infections like Jock Itch. These infections are more commonly seen in men than women. The infected area develops a rash that causes irritation and itching. It may lead to pain and bleeding also. It can be cured through Anti- fungal cream and powders.
It is very important to keep the groin region clean and dry. People suffering from these infections should refrain from consuming sweet things. It is advisable to lose weight if you are obese to avoid chronic infections.
- Tinea versicolor-
Tinea versicolor is a common non contagious fungal infection in teens and pre-teens. The fungal infection is caused by Malassezia Furfur.
Tinea versicolor causes pigmentation on the trunk and hands of the infected person. The pigmentation can spread throughout the back. The pigmentation might be lighter or darker than the original skin colour.
The pigmentation is not painful, but the infected person may sometimes experience itching. These infections can be easily cured with antifungal creams and powder but the chance of recurrence is higher than other infections.
It is important to maintain proper hygiene. You should stay indoors in the daytime during summers to avoid tinea versicolor. Chronic steroids users should be careful because steroids can cause more infections.
- Tinea Capitis-
Tinea Capitis is called the Ringworms of the scalp. Tinea Capitis is caused by the same fungi that causes Ringworms.
Tinea Capitis causes rash, redness and baldness on the scalp. It is usually seen in small and school going children and is contagious. If Tinea Capitis is not treated in time, it may cause Kerion. Kerion is a severe inflammation in the scalp that fills with pus and creates an amber coloured scaly layer on it. It cannot be treated with over-the-counter antifungal. In case a person gets the infection they should consult a doctor immediately.
Outbreak of Tinea Capitis in schools is very common, so guardians should be aware of this infection. It is very important to wash hair with shampoo regularly. Tinea Capitis also spreads through stray animals so one should be careful around them.
- Onychomycosis (tinea unguium)-
Onychomycosis is the fungal infection of the nails. It is seen that toenails are more prone to these infections than fingernails. Dermatophytes, mould and non-dermatophyte yeasts can cause such types of infections.
These infections are prevalent in all age groups. Onychomycosis causes the nails to get ragged, discoloured (usually dark or yellow coloured). It is common for affected nails to get thicken and separate from the nail bed. In some cases, the fingers start to swell due to inflammation. Over time a foul smell starts coming from these fingers. Treatment of these fungal infections are specific anti-fungal medications. In later stages doctors might advise surgery to clean the infected nails.
Onychomycosis is very contagious and distancing should be maintained from the infected. As already mentioned, keeping hands and legs clean and dry is very important. Onychomycosis can be avoided by keeping toenails clean, keeping footwear clean and dry and avoiding walking barefoot. You should also avoid wearing socks that cannot soak sweat or do not get dry easily.
- Seborrheic Dermatitis-
The Malassezia Yeast is a fungus that lives on the skin surface of the human scalp. When this fungus starts to grow the human immune system tries to counter this resulting in an inflammatory reaction that causes Seborrheic Dermatitis.
This condition is seen predominantly in men with greasy, scaly patches on the scalp. There is no permanent cure for this infection. The severity can be reduced and checked with treatment but there are high chances that the issue will resurface as soon as the treatment stops.
Seborrheic Dermatitis can be avoided by intense self care only. Since stress can be a factor in aggravated immune system response to yeast, you should not take stress. Harsh detergents and chemicals are also triggers to the infection so you should always check the detergents and soaps used in the household for strong chemicals.
- Cutaneous Candidiasis
Candidiasis is a common fungal infection caused by the Candida Fungus.
Candidiasis causes red, itchy rashes in the folds of the skin on the body. Underbelly, armpits, under the breasts, groin and buttocks are common sites of this infection. Candidiasis develops more in warm weather and tight clothing due to trapping of sweat that causes preferable growing spots for fungus. Candidiasis can even spread to the inside of the body like the mouth but is easily treatable with oral antifungal medications.
Candidiasis can be avoided by maintaining proper hygiene, having probiotics in food and reducing sugar intake in food.
Chromoblastomycosis is a severe fungal infection of the skin that can even pass down to subcutaneous tissue. The fungus responsible for this infection is a specific group of dematiaceous fungi.
The infection usually forms around an injury as the fungus enters the body through the wound. These infections are more common in rural areas of tropical and subtropical areas. Warty nodules appear in the infected area, usually the limbs which resemble the florets of cauliflower.
In case of traumatic injury, the wound must be cleaned properly and sanitised properly. The wound must be regularly cleaned to avoid infection.
Sporotrichosis is a fungal infection of the skin. This is a severe infection that can even pass down to subcutaneous tissue. The fungus responsible for this infection is Sporothrix.
The infection usually forms around an injury as the fungus enters the body through the wound or through thorns of wild bushes. These infections are more common in rural areas of tropical and subtropical areas. These infections are common in gardeners and farmers. The infection forms nodular ulcer-like lesions on the limbs. Treatment of such infection takes time with a very high dosage of anti fungal coupled with antibiotics. In some cases the infection can spread to the bloodstream too.
In case of traumatic injury, the wound must be cleaned properly and sanitised properly. The wound must be regularly cleaned to avoid infection. It is always safe to wear full sleeves and thick, covered shoes while going outside.
Fungal infections can be severe and also contagious. After the deadly Covid many survivors had reported black fungus in India.
Because of tropical weather in most parts of India, some people tend to get skin infections. These skin infections can be treated by dermatologists. Some of the best dermatologists are in Southern India, specifically Ernakulam city in Kerala.
If you are living in Kerala, you should look for a dermatologist in Ernakulam because most of these dermatologists have received good reviews from their patients.