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Fungal infections

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A fungal infection of the skin can be caused by many different types of fungi, usually those that live harmlessly on the body when you are healthy. The infection happens when one particular type of fungus or yeast overgrows & subsequently cannot be contained by the immune system. Fungal infections thrive in moist, warm environments.

If you have the symptoms of a fungal infection or are experiencing a rash on your skin, an appointment with a dermatologist can help you get a diagnosis & the most effective treatment. Many fungal skin infections are contagious, so it is a good idea to get them treated as quickly as possible, to avoid spreading them to other people or to other parts of your body.

  • Nail infections (onychomycosis): this can affect any part of the fingernails or toenails, with symptoms of discolouration (thick white or yellow), crumbling of the nail, & a roughened or thickened nail surface. There may also be swelling or inflammation of the skin around the nail. Onychomycosis can develop as a result of initial infection with Athlete’s foot.
  • Ringworm: This fungal infection (not caused by a worm) makes a characteristic ring-shaped rash on the skin, with a red, round edge. The skin on & around the rash can be itchy, scaly, & red, & can affect any part of the body, including the groin (which is sometimes called “jock itch”) or scalp (which may include the formation of pustules, kerion & bald patches).
  • Candida (yeast, thrush): Candida is a type of fungus which lives inside the gastrointestinal tract & mucous membranes of the body harmlessly, but which can cause problems if it overgrows. Thrush infection makes the skin red, sore, & intensely itchy, & sometimes can cause pustules. A vaginal candida infection causes itching, pain with urination, & a thick, white discharge. If it affects the mouth, it causes white patches to appear, which leave a red mark when rubbed off. Candida overgrowth can also cause diaper rash in babies.
  • Pityriasis Versicolor: this infection develops from an overgrowth of Malassezia, a yeast that lives on the skin. Symptoms of pityriasis Versicolor include patches of itchy, discoloured (pink, brown, red, or very pale), scaly skin on the chest, back, & arms.

Definition

A fungal infection of the skin can be caused by many different types of fungi, usually those that live harmlessly on the body when you are healthy. The infection happens when one particular type of fungus or yeast overgrows & subsequently cannot be contained by the immune system. Fungal infections thrive in moist, warm environments.

Symptoms

A number of fungal infections can affect the skin, & symptoms depend on the type of yeast & area of the body that is affected.
Athlete’s foot: a common infection which affects most people at some point, caused by fungi that grow naturally between the toes & on the soles of the feet, & which can overgrow due to excessive sweating or moisture. Symptoms include redness, itching, scaling, & flaking skin on the feet, which may crack & cause fissures, or a thickening of the sole of the foot. Athlete’s foot is contagious.

Step By Step

Step 1

Consultation

The dermatologist will ask you a number of questions regarding your symptoms, & any other information that can be helpful in diagnosis, such as past medical or family history. They will also perform a physical examination of your skin & the affected areas.
 
Step 2

Procedure

In some cases, a skin scraping will need to be taken in order to confirm your diagnosis. There are a number of treatment options for fungal infections as they can have many different causes & presentations, so the dermatologist will discuss these with you & help you decide on the most effective method of treatment.
 
Step 3

After The Treatment

The dermatologist will provide you with any necessary prescriptions, as well as aftercare measures, or other aspects of your treatment plan. If you have tests during your consultation, the results will be delivered to you as soon as they are ready.