Fungal Skin Infections

Superficial infections caused by dermatophytes – fungi that invade only dead tissues of the skin or its appendages.

Fungal infections of the skin are very common in all age groups. They are caused by microscopic fungal organisms which normally live on the skin surface without causing symptoms. Under appropriate conditions of moisture, warmth, irritation, or minor skin injury, they start to grow more rapidly and invasively, causing the a range of health problems. Certain underlying conditions other than the above may cause fungal infections to occur, and should be considered when the infection is highly recurrent or resistant to treatment. They include some endocrine disorders and immune diseases.

A variety of such conditions occur, especially in tropical environments where the heat and humidity allow the fungi to thrive. The commonest group are known as the dermatophytes:

Tinea or Ringworm. Tinea causes an itchy, red, scaly patch which spreads outward as it grows. Hairs in the area may fall out or break. Sometimes the skin may crack and become secondarily infected with bacteria. Spreading is by brushes, clothes, and other personal contact. The common terms used for tinea are as follows:

Tinea capitis (ringworm of the scalp) : involving the scalp or neck.

Tinea barbae : involving the beard area.

Tinea corporis (ringworm of the body) : involving the non-hairy parts of the body, such as the arms, shoulders, or face.

Tinea cruris (jock itch) involving the groin.

Tinea pedis (athletes foot) : involving the feet.

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Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

Explore Wellness in 2021