Not Sure What's on Your Skin? It Could Be a Fungal Infection

Fungal infection on someone's arm Not Sure What's on Your Skin? It Could Be a Fungal Infection

Unfortunately, there is often an overlap between the signs and symptoms of different skin conditions. The untrained eye might not be able to distinguish one skin problem from another, which is why it’s crucial to get diagnosed by a professional dermatologist. For instance, your doctor might tell you that the skin problem you’re facing is actually a fungal infection.

Here’s how you might become infected, how to identify fungal infections, and how to treat them.

What to Know About Fungal Infections

How Do You Contract Fungal Infections?

The only way to contract a fungal skin infection is to come into direct contact with fungi. Of course, there are many avenues through which one might brush up against a certain type of fungus. Fungi, such as mold, mildew, and yeast, mainly thrive in warm, damp environments (i.e. public pools, sweaty parts of the body like armpits, feet, groin area, etc.). If your bare skin is exposed in such an environment and touches a surface or another individual harboring fungi, the fungal spores can quickly find a new home on your dead skin cells (i.e. the outer layers of skin and nails) and multiply. To make matter worse, fungi can spread from one area of the skin to another via touching and scratching.

What Are the Signs of Fungal Infection?

Generally speaking, fungal infection symptoms include:

  • Itching
  • Irritation
  • Redness
  • Blisters
  • Burning
  • Scaly skin
  • Swelling

These symptoms are also correlated with other skin conditions unrelated to fungal infection, such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and more. One way to tell these different conditions apart is to consider their location. Though fungal infections can affect any area of your body, they are most often found in moist areas, as previously mentioned. So, if your symptoms primarily occur on your feet, groin area, underneath your armpits, and/or similarly damp, enclosed areas, you might be facing a fungal infection. Your dermatologist can help you determine the precise nature of your skin condition.

Common Fungal Infections To Look For

Our world is filled with millions of species of fungi, though only a select number commonly affects human skin. Some of the most prevalent fungal infections include:

  • Athlete’s Foot (Tinea Pedis)
  • Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris)
  • Ringworm (Tinea Corporis) -- fungal infections typically found on the arms, shoulders, face, and other areas of glabrous (smooth, hairless) skin
  • Beard Ringworm (Tinea Barbae)
  • Yeast Infections (Cutaneous Candidiasis)
  • Fungal Nail Infections (Tinea Unguium)
  • Tinea Capitis -- fungal infections found on the neck and/or scalp

There are other types of fungal skin infections out there, and the ones listed above include variations that yield different symptoms and levels of severity.

How Do You Get Rid of Fungal Skin Infections?

Many fungal skin infections go away on their own, though it can take several weeks or months for this to happen without intervention. Additionally, some infections can spread and create further complications (i.e. bacterial infections). To prevent such problems, relieve symptoms, and speed up recovery, your dermatologist might recommend an over-the-counter or prescription-strength antifungal spray, cream, or ointment. Oral antifungal medication is often required to treat a severe, systemic, and/or persistent fungal skin infection. With proper treatment, most superficial fungal infections will improve within weeks. If results are lacking, you may need to try different treatment methods under the supervision of your dermatologist.

Ultimately, the best way to clear your skin from fungal foes is to avoid infection in the first place. While there’s no way to guarantee total prevention, certain measures can decrease your level of risk, such as:

  • Practicing excellent skin hygiene
  • Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting bathtubs, showers, and floors
  • Avoiding direct-skin contact in public places such as pools, saunas, and locker rooms
  • Not wearing artificial fingernails
  • Separating towels, sheets, and clothing from those around you who currently harbor fungal skin infections

Experiencing itchy, inflamed, reddened skin? Fungal infection might be the culprit. To know for sure, reach out to your dermatologist and/or the experts at Premier Dermatology Partners. Our specialists can help you find the right treatment options for your skin conditions. To learn more about our team and all the services we provide, contact us.

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