Skin, the largest human organ with size of around 2 square meters or 21 square feet acts like a first line of defense from harmful impacts of the environment. Despite being exposed to high risk of physical damage, it also gives an ideal habitat for various microorganisms, like unpleasant fungus. They have the capability of destroying keratin, a basic component of skin cells, which they attack with specific enzymes causing fungal skin conditions or dermatomycoses.

People can get infected by fungus through contact with other people or from various objects like clothes, shoes, hats, bed sheets, etc. Infection transfer is especially effective in large groups like kindergarten, schools and working environments. Also people can get infected by fungus from animals or fungi that are primarily living on the soil.

Humidly fertile surface

Healthy skin is excellent protection against various unwanted citizens, like fungus. But wet, damaged skin will serve as a great entry point for all kinds of microorganisms and help in their propagation and cause illness. Especially good places for that are ones where skin is under constant friction and thus easy to miss with naked eye.

For fungus to spread there has to be good conditions like humidity, temperature around 37 C or 99 F and skin pH acidity from 5 – 7. Some people are more prone to fungal infections due to various reasons like lower immune system, exhaustion and fatigue, long therapies with antibiotics and cytostatics, AIDS, etc.

For fungal diseases there are various names, but in practice there are three types – saprophytic fungus, dermatophyte fungus and systemic fungal infection.  Saprophytic fungus live and spread on the surface of the skin and they don’t cause any inflammations.  Dermatophyte fungus are destroying keratin and causing changes on skin, hair and nails. Systemic infections are the hardest fungal infection where infection is spreading to internal organs.

The most common fungal infection overall is saprophytic Pityriasis versicolor since they love humid and warm places. Therefore they are more prone to infect people that sweat more like athletes, physical workers, overweight people, etc. The infection doesn’t just cause an aesthetic problem but it has to be taken seriously due to part of skin affected by it becoming entry points for different infections. People need to arm themselves with patience since this type of fungal infection is very resilient to therapy. Treatments are done in short intervals over a longer period of time with various shampoos, spreyes and solutions that have antifungal effect.

Hygiene and persistence

If you have a problem with this type of fungal infection after showering you need to pay attention to remove skin peelings where most of the fungus reside. Also wear clothes made from natural fabrics and avoid synthetic clothes. Try to avoid all activities where you would sweat more and forget swimming in public pools for a while. Stay persistent with the therapy.

Dermatophyte fungus infections that cause inflammation on the skin are coming from a larger group of fungus like Microsporum canis, T. rubrum, T. mentagrophytes,  and sometimes yeast like Candida albicans. Yeasts are special group of fungus that can cause changes on mucosa, or cause some dangerous infection in organs.

Depending what is the cause of the infection, the clinical picture can be different. On smooth skin without hair there are usually pink-reddish spots that slowly spread and flake, but the center of the spot is recovering. On the scalp, except the skin flaking the hair itself starts to break so sometimes it looks like there isn’t any hair on those infected areas. It is very important to find the right cause. In other cases the fungus will spread deeper into skin and cause deep inflammation and pus nods.

Also other areas can be infected. If it’s nails they can become yellow with white spots that spread to the whole nail which eventually starts to crack, thickening or sometimes even fall out. If the infection is on the place where there is skin frictioned by movements, like areas between fingers, under the breasts, under the armpit or on thighs, than the skin becomes red, wet, flaking and away from infected area there starts to appear so called „satellite pustula“. On that spot there will be scratching sensation, and if you remove the skin flakes it shows a shiny light red surface.

Athlete’s foot

Changes can appear on hands and feet, mostly between the fingers and toes causing itching, red skin, cracks and sometimes bubbles. This type of infection often affects athletes and therefore comes the name „athlete’s foot“.

If you suspect a fungal infection, you should definitely consult with the dermatologist. After a series of specific tests the doctor will determine the proper diagnosis and according to that a proper way of treating it. Therapy depends on a number of factors with most important the area of infection (scalp, skin, nails), how deep infection is, inflammation and contagious. Main therapy includes antifungal drugs, but also there are creams, losions, sprays and shampoos which are used directly on the infected areas. Systemic therapy is needed when the infection is persistent and it spreads to bigger areas of skin. In case of bacterial superinfection there should be antibiotics included in therapy also.

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Disclaimer: This text is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and it is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, and prescription or recommendation. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Dimology – Healthy World are not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any other information, services or product you obtain through this site.

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