Fungal infections are often thought of with a flush of embarrassment, but given how common they are, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Fungal infections can happen for a variety of reasons, and thankfully there are also many different options for treating them.
A fungal infection refers to any skin condition that’s caused by a fungus. There are countless types of fungus, and many even live safely on the skin. When the skin is punctured or makes direct contact with certain fungi, it can become infected. Fungal infections generally appear as scaly, itchy lesions. In some instances, their symptoms can closely resemble other conditions like acne. They can occur anywhere on the body, but some specific conditions like athlete’s foot or jock itch generally impact the same areas. Fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, so they often infect skin where this is the case. Athlete’s foot is a very spreadable infection that develops on the feet. Since feet are so often in shoes and are warm and moist after physical activity, the condition is generally associated with physically active people. This is not always true, however. Anyone can get athlete's foot, though it does thrive in places like gym showers or locker room floors. When the foot comes into contact with this fungus, it can become infected and become itchy, red and scaly. Jock itch is another condition commonly tied to athletes, and it can cause itchy, red, ring-shaped irritation on your genitals, thighs or buttocks. Fungal infections like these often spread quicker in the summer when the weather is humid and hot, but they can happen just about anywhere and to anyone.
Given how quick fungal infections can spread and the irritation they can cause, you’re going to want to get it treated as soon as possible. Fortunately, there are many treatment methods that can usually eliminate fungal infections with relative ease.
If you’re diagnosed with a fungal infection of the skin, your dermatologist’s first action will usually be a topical antifungal medication. Depending on your condition and where it appears, there are different ways this treatment can be applied. In addition to the most common ointments and sprays, specialized antifungal shampoos or powders. Once your dermatologist has successfully diagnosed your condition, treatment shouldn’t take long.
If your fungal infection is more serious or is resistant to topical treatments, don’t panic. There are other options for treating your fungal infection. Oral antifungal drugs are usually reserved for more severe or widespread fungal skin infections. Fluconazole and itraconazole are two oral antifungals that can treat multiple fungal infections. You’ll be prescribed these drugs and take them daily for a set amount of time, after which you may need to take them with less frequency to maintain results. In some cases, all it takes is a round of oral antifungals and some knowledge on prevention to keep fungal infections from cropping up again.
As mentioned above, some fungal infections are not created equally. Not every condition is just an itchy, red lesion. For example, malassezia folliculitis is a fungal infection with symptoms that closely resemble acne. MF, as it’s sometimes called, is transmitted like any other fungal infection. Usually some skin is damaged near or at a hair follicle, which contains sebaceous glands responsible for producing oil. When this damage occurs, the malassezia fungus can sometimes enter the follicle and spread out quickly. As a result, the sebaceous glands are clogged and become inflamed with oil and pus. MF closely resembles acne, and it’s not always easy to diagnose. Thankfully, it can be treated with a combination of antifungals and isotretinoin. This is a powerful anti-acne medication that works to reduce oil production in the skin, preventing pores from becoming clogged. Without the fungus and excess oil, the acne-like bumps will clear up in a matter of weeks.
There are so many different types of fungus that we can’t possibly describe all of them and their treatments. If you are curious about fungal infections or believe you have one, call us at Northeast Dermatology Associates today.
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