A fungal infection is an inflammatory skin condition caused due to invasion of skin or other tissues by a fungal organism. There are millions of fungal organisms present in the environment, in the soil, air, water or land. However, only a few hundreds of them are known to be pathogenic to humans, causing infections of skin and other organs.
Fungal skin infections are commonly called mycosis and can occur anywhere on the skin. The signs and symptoms of the infection depend on the area affected, species involved and the type of fungal disease.
The most common fungal diseases are:
Causative organism: Candidiasis is the most common fungal infection, caused due to Candida Albicans. Candida Albicans is a common inhabitant of human skin and mucous membranes, like oral mucous membrane and vagina. However, its overgrowth due to changes in the host environment causes the occurrence of disease in humans.
Occurrence and causes: Candidiasis commonly occurs in women, due to the colonisation of C. Albicans in the genital area. This occurs due to hormonal imbalances, stress, improper antibiotic coverage and poor dietary habits in women. It is more common during hot and humid weather conditions.Candidiasis can also occur on the skin, particularly between skin folds, in the areas of armpits, inter-digital area, below the breasts, around the nails or along the corners of mouth.
- It is characterised by itching, swelling and redness of the affected area.
- Pain and burning sensations during micturition and intercourse are also noted in this condition.
- Unusual vaginal discharge consisting of watery liquids or whitish grey clumps is also reported by some women.
- In severe cases, development of a rash is noted in the vaginal area.
- Candidiasis is a serious condition and should be treated immediately to avoid worsening of symptoms and systemic involvement.
Prevention and treatment
- Maintaining proper hygiene and wearing loose fitted clothes, made from natural fibres will avoid the overgrowth of microorganisms.
- Use of hot water and treacherous skin products must be avoided in the genital area.
- Frequent changing of garments and socks is recommended to avoid colonisation of organisms.
- Consuming a healthy diet, along with stress management also helps to avoid this condition.
- Treatment involves the use of topical antifungal agents, in the form of creams and gels.
- Prescription of systemic or oral antifungal medications is also helpful in the successful management of the lesion.
2. Athlete’s foot a.k.a Tenia Pedis.
It is a common fungal infection occurring in the foot, most commonly caused due to fungal species, Trichophyton Rubrum.
It occurs due to the growth of fungal microorganisms in the foot. This occurs due to the presence of warm and moist environment, in socks and tight shoes. It is common during warm and moist weather conditions.
It is a contagious disease, and can easily spread from person to person. It is thus, commonly observed in individuals who use common bathrooms and pools.
- Redness of skin
- Burning sensations
- Peeling of skin
- Presence of blisters
Prevention and treatment:
- Athlete’s foot is prevented by maintaining proper hygiene of the feet. This involves regularly washing the feet with soap and water, routine pedicure treatments and avoidance of tight shoes and socks.
- Socks must also be changed frequently.
- Feet must be kept dry. Use of foot powder to avoid perspiration and ensuring the dryness of feet is recommended.
- In rainy season, use of waterproof shoes is advisable.
- Care must be taken while using public bathrooms and pools.
- Treatment of the condition involves the use of topical anti-fungal agents on the affected site.
- In severe cases, oral antifungal agents may also be prescribed to the patient.
Ringworm, also called dermatophytosis or tinea, is a highly contagious fungal infection of the skin, with lesions being seen on the skin and scalp.
A variety of fungal species are involved in the development of this lesion.
Millions of cases of ringworm infections are reported annually.
- Initially, red, itchy and scaly patches of skin are observed in the affected area.
- Soon, these patches deepen in colour and become raised along the borders of the lesion, resembling a ring, thus the name.
- Formation of blisters and oozing of the skin may occur in some cases is also noted in this condition.
- The lesion also spreads to the surrounding areas and other areas of the skin, as it is highly contagious.
- If the lesion involves the scalp proceeds to the scalp, presence of bald spots in the affected area is seen, along with the presence of the lesion.
- The lesion must be immediately treated as it is highly contagious and distressing to the patient.
- Keeping the skin dry and clean, wearing loose clothing items will help in preventing the occurrence of this lesion.
- Once present, the lesion must be kept covered. Touching the lesion and any kind of contact must be avoided to prevent the spreading of lesion to other sites.
- Treatment of the lesion involves the application of topical antifungal agents in the form of creams, gels or sprays, as prescribed by the dermatologist.
Thus, it can be concluded that fungal infections commonly occur on the skin, scalp, genital areas, toes and nails, due to the involvement of different fungal species. Presence of warm and moist environment favours the growth of these species. Fungal infections commonly present in individuals, due to neglect of hygiene or other misbalances, causing a favourable environment for fungal growth.
These infections are usually contagious, and so must be treated immediately, to prevent them from spreading to other parts of the body. The lesions can be easily managed by the use of topical anti-fungal agents - use of systemic anti-fungal medications may also be advisable in some cases. Contact with the affected individuals and involved sites must be avoided to prevent spreading of fungal infections.
If properly diagnosed by a professional dermatologist, fungal infections can be easily taken care of. For any fungal related skin problems, you should always consult a dermatologist ASAP.