Skin Care for Fungus
Fungal skin infections cause itchy, uncomfortable, red rashes that usually don't disappear without treatment. Fungal infections, also called tinea, are very common types of infections, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Identifying and treating fungal skin infections promptly and following a strict skin care cleansing regimen can keep these infections from spreading or worsening.
A fungus is a microorganism that thrives in warm, moist places. Some types of fungus invade skin folds and sweaty areas of the body because these areas provide the perfect conditions for fungi to grow and multiply. When fungi grow on the skin, the skin surface becomes irritated, and a rash develops. Fungal skin infections are contagious, and you can catch an infection if you touch another person's rash or handle anything that has come in contact with the rash, according to the AAD. Keeping the skin clean and dry can help reduce the likelihood that a fungal skin infection will occur.
Athlete's foot is a fungal infection that causes a rash on the toes and feet. Onychomycosis is a type of fungus that affects the toenails or fingernails. Nail fungus appears more frequently on the toenails and fingernails and affects about 12 percent of Americans, according to the AAD. Jock itch is a type of fungal infection that causes an itchy rash in the groin area and usually affects men.
Ringworm develops on any part of the body when a person comes in contact with fungus by touching an animal or soil containing the fungus. Ringworm may first appear as a small red spot, but gradually enlarges into a ring shape. A person who has ringworm doesn't actually have worms, but the raised, round appearance of rash looks similar to a worm burrowing under the skin. Ringworm can also occur on the scalp.
Fungal infections cause rashes that may eventually peel, blister or flake. The border of the rash may appear redder than the interior of the rash. Itching or burning may occur with the rash. Because fungal infections can easily be confused with other types of rashes, it is important to see a doctor if a rash does not clear up on its own after one week. When ringworm occurs on the scalp, it may cause hair loss. Hair usually returns after treatment, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD). Fungal infections of the nails cause the nails to turn yellow and eventually thicken and break.
Topical antifungal creams are effective in treating fungal skin infections. Creams to treat jock itch and athlete's foot are available without a prescription at drug stores. Particularly stubborn rashes may require treatment with prescription creams. Prescription creams require fewer applications and are stronger than over-the-counter products, according to the AOCD. If topical creams are not effective, oral antifungal medications may be needed. Pets that are carriers of ringworm must be treated for the fungus to prevent re-infection of family members.
Keeping skin free from fungus requires ensuring that the skin does not remain wet for long periods of time. Wearing clean underwear and changing out of wet bathing suits promptly can help, as can drying off the skin thoroughly after bathing. Skin should be cleaned daily with soap to prevent fungi from multiplying. Washing hands after handling pets or working with soil can reduce the chance of developing ringworm. Changing socks and shoes if they become soaked with perspiration reduces wetness that encourages the growth of fungi on the feet. Wearing open-toed sandals and using an antifungal foot powder can help prevent athlete's foot, according to the AOCD. Scratching the rash open may cause a bacterial skin infection and should be avoided. Prescription creams and oral medications can be helpful in reducing itching in addition to clearing fungus.
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