Fungal skin infections, also known as superficial mycosis, can affect your skin by causing irritation, itchiness, discomfort, and even inflammation. Needless to say, these fungi are no fun at all. At SABEResPODER, we know how bothersome, painful, and inhibiting these infections can be. As a result, we created this guide to teach you about the most common types of fungal skin infections and effective treatment remedies. The more informed you are, the less likely they’ll spread and affect your daily life.
What Are Fungal Skin Infections?
Fungi are microscopic organisms that invade your body and can cause issues such as immune system deficiencies, skin complications, or severe pain. This type of infection occurs because fungi reproduce and settle into an environment with ease, meaning they can spread quickly from one part of the body to another.
Causes of Fungal Infections
There are many reasons why you might end up with a fungal skin infection. A lot of these causes are due to environmental factors. Some are related to hygiene or the effects of pre-existing conditions. A few of the most common causes of fungal skin infections are:
- High humidity and moisture
- Contact with contaminated plants or weeds
- High temperatures
- Tight clothes
- Lack of hygiene
- Contaminated surfaces (common in pools or gyms)
- Skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis
- Misuse of antibiotics or immunosuppressants
The Main Types of Fungal Skin Infections
There are a wide variety of fungi that can affect your skin. They tend to live on your nails, hair, hands, and feet - areas that are exposed to a lot of moisture. This results in a conducive environment for fungal infections to grow and reproduce. The main types of fungal skin infections are:
This condition is caused by the fungus Malassezia Furfur. The fungus prevents melanin production and presents as white spots on one or more parts of the body, primarily on the back and chest. It might also appear on your scalp, appearing as scabs that can decrease hair volume or cause it to fall out.
Pitiriasis versicolor tends to be painless and doesn’t often sting or cause inflammation. It can affect your appearance, which is why people tend to visit a dermatologist for treatment.
Nail fungus (onychomycosis) is an infection where the fungus lives under or on your nails, causing them to yellow, thin, become inflamed, and turn the surrounding area red. This type of infection mostly appears on toenails because the area tends to be more frequently exposed to moisture and contaminants, such as dirty water in puddles.
More commonly referred to as thrush or a yeast infection depending on its location, candidiasis is caused by a fungus called Candida albicans, which occurs naturally in the mouth and throat areas. It can be caused by an imbalance in your immune system. Stinging and irritation are common in places where the body is exposed to more moisture, especially in the genital area.
This is one of the most common fungal infections. It’s usually caused by a prolonged use of footwear. Athlete’s foot can be very annoying due to the itching between the toes that it causes, making it nearly impossible to not scratch the affected area and causing more open wounds on your feet as a result.
Ringworm is another extremely common fungal infection. There are several types of fungi that cause it, and it can manifest on different body parts. Ringworm looks like a circular pink blotch (shaped like a ring) accompanied by an intense stinging and burning sensation. In some cases, the fungus can also cause white spots to appear in the center. These are indicative of an infection.
Groin ringworm is a superficial fungal skin infection that mostly affects skin folds in the crotch area. Sometimes called jock itch, groin ringworm is caused by the Tinea cruris fungus. This fungus affects this area due to its high moisture concentration and other factors, such as wearing tight clothing or being overweight, which can cause friction between your thighs and aggravate the area.
This type of ringworm mainly affects your scalp and causes hair loss, discoloration, and scaly, flaky skin patches. This type of ringworm tends to happen to men more than women and can be exacerbated by the use of hair gel or buildup from other hair products.
Eight Home Remedies for Fungal Skin Infections
Fighting fungal skin infections can be a real challenge, especially given that they reproduce very easily and quickly and can develop a resistance to medication. That’s why we created this list of eight possible solutions focused on home remedies that fight the presence of fungus. The earlier you start using these remedies and fighting the infection, the better.
This is one of the most common remedies to fight nail fungus. Mouthwash contains ingredients like menthol and eucalyptus which have antimycotic properties and quickly combat fungus that can appear on your nails.
Its powerful antimicrobial properties make garlic a strong ally in the fight against fungal skin infections. Just rub some crushed garlic cloves on the affected area for 30 minutes once a day. Just make sure you don’t have any type of garlic allergy before you apply it.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has strong antifungal effects that can help treat more resistant nail fungus like Candida albicans (candidiasis). Simply apply a few drops on your nails using a cotton ball.
Oregano oil has antifungal properties that will help you eliminate the presence of skin fungus. Just put two or three drops on the affected area in the morning. This treatment also soothes the burning sensation common in these infections.
Try some vinegar to combat toe fungus. You can do this by soaking your feet in a mixture of warm water and vinegar for 20 minutes. Just keep in mind that this isn’t recommended for sensitive skin or skin with open wounds, because it can cause irritation.
Boric acid is one of the most effective remedies in the treatment of fungi such as candidiasis or jock itch. In women, it has an effectiveness of more than 65% making it a powerful and easily accessible treatment.
Coconut oil can provide relief and gradually remove fungal skin infections. This oil has antifungal properties that eliminate the presence of mycosis and prevent it from spreading to other parts of the body.
Turmeric is having quite a moment right now! From lattes to beauty products, this spice is everywhere. It comes as no surprise, since it’s one of the most beneficial natural skincare remedies and is a great antifungal remedy. This is due to the presence of curcumina, a compound with powerful antifungal properties.
Keep in mind: These treatments must be used as the first line of defense against the presence of fungus. Fungal skin infections should be treated as quickly as possible to prevent them from getting worse. If your symptoms last for more than a few days, we recommend seeing a specialist that can properly treat your fungal skin infection.
Habits to Prevent Fungal Skin Infections
Prevention is the most important thing you can do to inhibit fungus from growing on your skin and nails. Fungus tends to be related to bad hygiene. There are a few habits that you can implement to prevent fungal skin infections, such as:
- Using flip flops in gym and pool showers, or anywhere that fungus is more likely to grow
- Not sharing utensils or workout clothes
- Drying off completely right after you bathe
- Using condoms during sexual relations
- Washing your hands after being in contact with a pet
- Avoiding contact with grass that can cause body fungus
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I see a dermatologist?
Head to a dermatologist if none of the home remedies work. Fungal infections often return because they tend to be very resistant to treatment. Call your local dermatologist if you experience the following symptoms:
- Pain at the infection site
- Recurring infections
- Spreading to other areas
What’s a good fungal skin infection cream?
Most antifungal creams effectively treat fungal skin infections because they tend to have components that allow the infection to subside.
Keep in mind: Some of these creams are available over the counter. Before you choose a cream, consult your dermatologist to select the best option for the type of fungal infection that you have.
What soap should I use for fungal skin infections?
It’s a good idea to use medicated antifungal soaps that will strengthen your topical treatment and prevent new types of fungi from inhibiting your recovery. These types of soaps are available over the counter at drugstores and contain properties that promote healthy skin.
How long does a fungal infection last?
The time it takes to cure a fungal skin infection is related to the type of infection you have. A few types of mycosis have a longer recovery process due to their adaptability and the resistance of the microorganisms living on different body parts exposed to moisture. Less aggressive fungal infections will usually resolve within 2-4 weeks so long as the fungus is in the initial phase and isn’t resistant to treatment.