Everything You Need to Know About Fungal Infections and How to Treat Them

Skin is the largest organ of your body and the main function of the skin is to protect the body from various types of diseases and infections. Your skin is exposed to infections which are caused by germs and microbes such as bacteria, fungi and virus of which fungal infection is the most prominent amongst everything else. Based on the severity of the infections, it may be termed as mild, moderate and serious. Mild fungal infections can be treated at home using some home remedies, but serious infections may require medical attention. In this article, we are going to elucidate on the fungal infection, its types, and tips to cure the fungal infection.

Fungal Infection 

There are over 3 million species of fungus which are found in nature, of which only 300 species of fungus are known to be harmful to the human body. The fungus is found everywhere and is generally not harmful unless they multiply abnormally and penetrate your skin through a wound or cut. Fungus thrives in the moist and warm area of your skin which does not get enough air circulation, particularly your armpits, groin, feet and folds of your skin. Mycosis or fungal infection is a skin disease which is caused by fungus.

Common Causes Of Fungal Infection And Its Symptoms

Skin is the part of the body which is exposed to germs and microorganisms found in the surrounding. Various yeast and fungi are responsible for causing skin infections in the human body. These fungi thrive in the damp and warm areas of your body such as folds of the skin, armpits, groin, thighs, buttocks etc.

Let us have a closer look at some of the common causes of fungal skin infection:

  • Not maintaining proper personal hygiene.
  • Not cleaning your inner wears and socks properly.
  • Not consuming a healthy diet.
  • People with weakened immunity due to diseases such as HIV, Cancer or Diabetes.
  • Hot & humid climate, as this climate is favourable for the growth of fungi.
  • Excessive sweating and damp clothes.

The symptoms of the fungal infection on the skin can vary from person to person as its symptoms may go from being mild to severe. Topical application of OTC antifungal ointments are beneficial in treating the fungal infection with mild to moderate symptoms, whereas severe infection may require treatment from the medical professional.

The common symptoms of fungal infection can be skin rash, redness, itching and irritation, skin peels or cracks etc. Fungal infection can cause a lot of discomfort to the person. The infection is spread through direct contact with the infected person or by coming in contact with fungi on clothing.

Types Of Fungal Infections 

Fungal infection can happen on any part of the skin, particularly damp and warm areas of your body such as the armpit, groin, folds of the skin etc. Let us elaborate on the types of fungal infections

1. Athlete’s Foot 

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot or Tinea pedis is the most common type of fungal infection which affects us. This type of fungal infection is found among sportspersons or athletes because the fungus thrives in damp and warm environments such as socks and shoes. Athlete’s foot is common during warm climate and in the months of summer when the fungi multiply tremendously

Symptoms 

  • The infected area of the skin starts to peel or crack
  • The appearance of blisters or redness on the area
  • Itching or burning sensation on the infected area.
  • Symptoms may vary from person to person.

Treatment 

Topical application of antifungal ointment is helpful in treating Athlete’s foot. Severe infections need to be treated by taking oral medicines as well. Special care should be taken to keep the infected area dry by allowing air circulation and by keeping the infected area clean.

2. Yeast Infection 

Candida is a common yeast infection which is generally found in the vaginal area in women, also leads to toenail infection and diaper rash. The abnormal growth of Candida disrupts the natural balance of yeast and bacteria in the vagina. Stress, poor diet, antibiotics, hormonal imbalances are some factors that contribute towards yeast infection.

Symptoms 

  • Itching and swelling around the vagina.
  • Soreness and redness around the vagina.
  • Burning sensation during urination or during intercourse.
  • Unusual vaginal discharge.

Over a period of time, you may develop a skin rash and if proper care is not taken, it may become severe.

Treatments 

Yeast infections can be treated with the application of topical creams or ointments, tablets or suppositories which are easily available in any drugstore. Severe infection may require proper medical attention from medical healthcare professionals.

Ensuring proper hygiene and consuming a balanced diet helps to prevent yeast infection. Avoid tight-fitting clothes and as far as possible wear loose-fitting clothes that allow proper air circulation.

3. Ringworm 

Ringworm

Tinea corporis is commonly known as Ringworm which is a type of fungal infection caused by fungi that thrive on dead skin tissues such as skin, nails and hair. This fungus is responsible for causing Athlete's Foot and Jock Itch.

Symptoms 

  • Itchy red patches on the skin which turn scaly and over a period often turn into a raised ring-shaped patch.
  • The infection may spread into several ring-shaped patches all over the skin.
  • The outer ring is often swollen, red and the skin inside the ring will often appear as scaly.
  • Ringworm is a highly contagious fungal infection which spreads through contact. You may also contract the infection from pet animals such as dogs.
  • Ringworm fungus is also found in soil and when you come in contact with the infected soil you may contract the disease.

Treatments 

OTC antifungal ointments are available for treating this type of fungal infections. Ringworm of the scalp or severe ringworm infection may require medical attention. Maintaining proper hygiene can prove to be beneficial in preventing and treating ringworm. Always keep your skin clean and dry. Wear loose-fitting clothes which are made of natural fibre.

4. Jock Itch 

Tinea cruris is another type of fungal infection which is also known as Jock Itch. This type of fungus thrives in warm and damp areas of your body such as the groin, inner thighs and buttocks. This skin infection is more common during the summer season and in humid areas. This type of fungal infection is slightly contagious and is spread through contact with the infected person or by using an object that carries the fungus.

Symptoms 

  • Red rashes and strong itching sensation in the groin area, on thighs or buttocks.
  • Skin irritation and burning sensation in the affected area.
  • Red rash on the thighs which is circular in shape and with raised edges.
  • Flaking or peeling of skin on the affected area.

Treatment 

Jock itch can be treated by using OTC antifungal creams and ointments and sometimes intake of oral medicines may also be required. Maintaining proper hygiene around your private parts is very essential in treating this infection. Wearing loose-fitting clothes, especially undergarments which are made of natural fibres is helpful in preventing this type of fungal infection. Avoid contact with the infected person and also avoid sharing towels, bed sheets etc.

5. Onychomycosis 

Tinea unguium is also known as Onychomycosis. This is a type of fungal infection which is generally found on your nails which includes your fingernails as well as toenails, although the toenail infection is more common.

Symptoms 

  • The infected nails become discoloured and typically turn brown, yellow or white.
  • The nails become brittle and break off easily.

Treatment 

This type of fungal infection may often require prescribed medicines. In severe cases, the infected part of your nail may be removed. Above mentioned are some common fungal skin infections. Most of these fungal infections if diagnosed early can be treated with the application of OTC medicines. Only some severe conditions may require medical attention.

Home Remedies For Treating Fungal Infections 

Fungal skin infections are very common and mild to moderate type of infections can be treated at home using ingredients which are easily available in your kitchen. Let us explore some of the go-to home remedies for treating fungal skin infection:

1. Apple Cider Vinegar 

 Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar is a well-known home remedy for fighting various types of infections. It can be taken internally and is also ideal for topical application. Apple cider vinegar possesses antibacterial and antifungal properties which are beneficial for treating various types of skin infections. ACV is known to prohibit the growth of candida yeast which is responsible for causing skin infections. Dilute Apple Cider Vinegar with water and apply on the affected area.

2. Tea Tree Oil 

Tea tree oil exhibits strong antifungal and antiseptic properties due to which it has proved to be beneficial in treating various types of skin infections. It effectively treats Athlete's foot. Add a few drops of Tea tree oil to coconut oil and apply on the affected area.

3. Turmeric 

Turmeric

Turmeric exhibits strong antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties due to which turmeric is considered to be beneficial for treating fungal skin infections. The beneficial properties of turmeric are due to the presence of an active compound-curcumin. Turmeric is known to be effective in treating skin infections caused due to Candida and various other species of fungus. Mix turmeric with a carrier oil such as coconut oil and make a thick paste. Apply this paste on the affected area.

4. Garlic 

Garlic is well known for its antifungal properties and is a very popular ingredient for fighting fungal infections. It also helps to boost your immune system, which is another added benefit of using garlic. You can directly apply garlic juice on the affected area or make a garlic water solution by boiling water and to this add few crushed cloves of garlic and let it cool. Apply this solution on the affected area.

5. Coconut Oil 

Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil is known for its antifungal properties. It is rich in Vitamin E, healthy fatty acids and hence one of the most favourite ingredients in all the skincare creams and ointments. Always use extra virgin coconut oil for best results. Take a few drops of coconut oil in your palm and apply directly on the infected area.
You can try any of these home remedies for treating various types of fungal infections. The above-mentioned compounds are quite potent which prohibit the growth of fungi and effectively treats various fungal skin infections.

Risk Factors 

Fungal skin infections are very common and are generally not very severe if treated at an early stage. If left untreated they can lead to skin infections becoming more severe and painful. Some people are at a higher risk at developing skin infections. Let us explore the possible risk factors.

  1. Individuals who take antibiotics are at higher risk of developing fungal skin infections.
  2. People with a weakened immune system are also prone to skin infections.
  3. People taking steroids, people with HIV, diabetes and people undergoing chemotherapy are also at the risk of developing fungal skin infections.
  4. Children and old people whose immune system is weak are also at a higher risk of developing a fungal skin infection.

Take Away 

Most fungal infections are not very severe and can be treated with the topical application of OTC skin creams or ointments and home remedies. Fungal skin infections if diagnosed and treated at an early stage are not very severe, but if left untreated can become a cause of concern. Maintaining personal hygiene and keeping your skin clean and dry, especially your private parts, prove to be very helpful in preventing skin infections. If the skin infection becomes severe do consult a doctor.

 

 

 

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