Fungal Conditions - Marlene J. Mash, MD

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Fungal Conditions

Medical Dermatology
Different types of fungi cause fungal skin infections. These causes include dermatophytes and yeasts. The fungi invade and grow in dead keratin. The protien keratin makes up your skin, hair, and nails.

There are several different types of fungal infections. They are divided into different groups depending on what type of fungus is involved.
  • Athlete’s foot - caused by a fungus that grows in warm, damp areas of the skin, such as between your toes. The fungal infection makes your skin itchy, flaky and red. It also causes white cracks to appear, especially between your toes and on the sides of your foot. Occasionally, it causes blisters.
  • Nail infections - usually start at the edge of your nail and spread slowly down to the base. They tend to take a long time to develop. They cause your nail to discolor and become crumbly. The surrounding tissue may also thicken.
  • Ringworm of the body - often affects exposed parts of your body, such as your arms, legs, or face, and causes a red, ring-shaped rash. Ringworm is contagious.
  • Ringworm of the groin - also called ‘jock itch’ because it’s more common in young men. It can cause an itchy, red rash in your groin and the surrounding area.
  • Ringworm of the scalp - mostly affects children before they reach puberty and can affect any part of your scalp, but you usually get patches of it. Symptoms can be similar to those of ringworm on your groin and body, and your scalp will look scaly and feel itchy. You may also develop pus-filled areas on your scalp called ‘kerions’. During the infection, your hair may fall out and leave bald areas, but this usually grows back once the infection has been treated.
  • Yeast infections - there are two types:
      1. Intertrigo is a yeast infection that you can get in the folds of your skin, such as on your abdomen (tummy), if you're overweight. It's often caused by the yeast candida albicans. Your skin may turn red or brown and if it’s very moist, it can start to break down.
      2. Pityriasis versicolor is caused by a type of yeast called Malassezia. It’s quite common and usually affects young adults after they reach puberty. If you have pityriasis versicolor, your back, upper arms and torso may have patches of scaly, itchy and discoloured skin.
  • Thrush - is a common fungus that often lives in your mouth, stomach, skin, and women’s vaginas. Thrush often looks like small white patches, which leave a red mark if you rub them off.
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