If fungal skin infections sound scary to you, you aren’t alone. However, there’s nothing to fear, and arming yourself with knowledge on common fungal infections will help ease your concerns.
Ringworm sounds a lot stranger than it really is. Many mistake it for a parasitic infection based on its name, but ringworm is actually caused by a fungus. Also called tinea corporis, ringworm is characterized by a ring of raised and irritated skin surrounding skin that appears healthy. Its unique, circular shape is the reason for its name. Ringworm, like most fungal infections, is contagious. Skin that comes into contact with infected skin can be impacted by ringworm. Ringworm, or Tinea corporis, can linger on clothing, furniture and other surfaces, where it can be picked up and infect skin. It thrives and lives in humid, warm areas like showers or saunas. Ringworm can show up anywhere on the skin, and be localized to a single spot or spread out with interconnected rings. Affected skin will be itchy and irritated.
Luckily, it can be treated by antifungal drugs. While these drugs are available over-the-counter, your dermatologist can diagnose and prescribe the best drug to treat your condition once and for all. Antifungal drugs for ringworm are almost always applied topically, and include clotrimazole, miconazole and terbinafine. In the event of a very severe ringworm infection, oral antifungals may be prescribed.
You’ve probably heard of athlete’s foot, or you’ve had it yourself. It’s a common fungal infection that most often impacts the feet and toenails. Like other fungal infections, the fungi that cause athlete’s foot flourish in humid, warm areas. Given how much time many people’s feet spend in shoes, athlete’s foot can be spread by shoes or in shared bathrooms. New England summers can stay humid for months, so we’re certainly in a high-risk time during the spring and summer months. The symptoms of athlete’s foot vary, but most commonly your feet will be itchy, and the skin may appear scaly and dry.
There are three types of athlete’s foot. The most common form is called an interdigital athlete’s foot, and it typically forms between the pinky and ring toes on your feet. It can spread to other parts of the foot if left untreated. Moccasin athlete’s foot is most often characterized by dryness and cracking, and can often encompass the entire sole of the foot. Finally, vesicular athlete’s foot is the rarest and most painful form of the condition. This condition appears as quickly forming, fluid-filled blisters on the sole of the feet or spreading to the toes or top of the foot. Vesicular athlete’s foot can be painful and should be diagnosed and treated quickly.
Malassezia folliculitis, or MF, is a unique fungal infection for a few reasons. It can develop anywhere there are hair follicles that contain sebaceous glands. Sebaceous glands produce a natural oil that helps to protect the skin and keep moisture in. When the malassezia fungus enters a follicle, there’s a chance that it will take root and spread. Most commonly, MF forms on the upper torso and shoulders, but it can also develop on the face. The symptoms of MF closely resemble acne, and can be misdiagnosed as such. The main difference between MF and acne is that malassezia folliculitis is itchy. To get a proper diagnosis, visiting a dermatologist is a must. Antifungals, either topical, oral or both, are the first treatment option for MF. Your dermatologist may prescribe isotretinoin, an oral acne drug. Isotretinoin works by inhibiting your skin’s production of sebum, reducing the likelihood of developing further MF outbreaks as the antifungals do their job.
Some fungal infections can even produce simple hives that often call for nothing more than a topical antifungal. Others are more rare or only appear in certain parts of the world. Regardless of the kind of fungal infection at play, your dermatologist is best-equipped to help treat your condition.
Now that you know the basic ins and outs of fungal infections, you’re better prepared in the event that you or someone you know deals with this issue. If you believe you may have a fungal infection or want to learn more, call the experts at Northeast Dermatology Associates today.
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