Fungal infections of the skin are widespread. Can affect a wide variety of body regions. Read how to recognize and treat fungal skin infections.
Treat skin fungus
The earlier the treatment starts, the better the chances of getting rid of a skin fungus quickly. And the lower the risk, his to infect fellow human beings. Important to know: The main symptoms of fungal infections of the skin – reddened, scaly areas, itching, burning – can also occur in many other skin diseases. This begins with allergic reactions. Ranges from psoriasis to neurodermatitis.
Therefore, the diagnosis belongs in the hands of a Dermatologist. In most cases the dermatologist can already recognize the presence of the Appearance and location, what form of skin fungus is involved. To confirm the diagnosis, the pathogen can be detected either by culturing in a special nutrient medium and by microscopic examination of a skin sample. How skin fungus is treated depends above all on which fungus is behind it.
Medicines for skin fungus
The drugs used for skin fungus are called Antimycotics. They either inhibit the growth and multiplication of the fungi (fungistatic effect) or kill them (fungicidal effect).
Although many of these skin fungus remedies are available over-the-counter at pharmacies, they should not be used without consulting a doctor. Not all antifungal agents are equally effective against the various forms of fungal skin infections. In addition, the severity of the infection also plays a role in the choice of the appropriate medication. Factors such as age or possible pregnancy play a role.
As a rule, skin fungus First treated locally or topically. That is, with ointments, creams, powders or tinctures containing antifungal agents applied to the affected skin areas. Since fungal infections can be very persistent, these agents must be used for as long as prescribed by the doctor – even if the visible and noticeable symptoms have already subsided. This prevents the skin fungus from flaring up again.
If local treatment does not achieve the desired success and if the skin fungus is very pronounced, the dermatologist may prescribe an antifungal drug in tablet form. Also in case of a threatening spread of the skin fungus into the blood. On internal organs, such systemic therapy is sometimes necessary.
Home remedies for skin fungus
Since fungi do not like an acidic environment, vinegar is considered a proven home remedy against skin fungus and especially against athlete's foot. Some herbal substances, such as lavender or tea tree oil, have even been shown to be beneficial in scientific studies. However, according to the current state of knowledge, these skin fungus remedies are clearly less effective than antimycotics. Therefore, they should be used only in consultation with the attending physician. At most, be used concomitantly with drug therapy.
Recognize the different types of skin fungus
The most important symptoms of Skin fungus, caused by dermatophytes – i.e. filamentous fungi – are reddened, often sharply demarcated and finely scaling areas of skin, which are usually itchy and sometimes also burn. In the course of the disease, these foci can expand.
The characteristic of Head fungus are broken hairs in the affected areas of the scalp – the whole then resembles a mown cornfield. In the case of athlete's foot, the skin appears softened and small tears, so-called fires, develop. Some forms of skin fungus, such as hand fungus, are also manifested by the formation of blisters, thick scales and painful skin cracks.
Knotty blisters known as papulopustules are at the beginning of skin infections that are caused by Yeast fungi of the genus Candida are triggered. This so-called cutaneous candidiasis then quickly develops into red, sometimes weeping raised spots on the skin – so-called plaques – with a scaly fringe at the edge.
Definition: What is skin fungus?
Cutaneous fungus is not a uniform clinical picture, but a collective term for various infections of the skin whose common feature is that they are caused by fungi. Depending on which pathogen is behind it and which areas are primarily affected, physicians divide cutaneous fungus into the individual forms.
Skin fungus: classification according to localization
A moist, warm environment, such as can be found in the spaces between the toes, the intimate area or under the breast, skin fungus pathogens love very much. In principle, however, they can infect any part of the human skin. Depending on the localization dermatologists divide skin fungus into different forms. These include:
Athlete's foot (Tinea pedis): By far the most common skin fungus caused by filamentous fungi – so-called dermatophytes – affects the feet, especially the skin between the toes. From there, the fungal infection can spread to other areas on the foot, such as the soles or edges of the feet. Hand fungus (Tinea manuum): Skin fungus on the hand and fingers usually only occurs on one side. If the infection persists for a longer period of time, it can spread to the second hand. Often the affected persons transfer the dermatophytes from a foot fungus to hand and fingers. Head fungus (Tinea capitis): Fungal infections of the hairy scalp occur mainly in children, but also in adults. Mostly the child gets infected from animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits or guinea pigs. These companions can carry the pathogen Microsporum canis, which is the main cause in Central Europe, in their fur. Skin fungus on the head can, however, also be passed on from person to person. Fungal infections of the trunk. On the limbs are called Tinea corporis. This form of skin fungus can affect all regions with fine body hair. The pathogens penetrate the skin via the hair follicle or hair follicle. Spread from there into surrounding hair follicles. Fungus on the face and neck (Tinea faciei and Tinea colli): Here the dermatophyte infection affects the face and/or neck. Although these two forms of skin fungus have their own name, they have the same mechanisms as other fungal infections of the hairy skin of the body. Therefore they belong to the disease group tinea corporis. Skin fungus in the groin (Tinea inguinalis): This disease is also caused by dermatophytes, whose growth is favored by the warm, moist environment in the groin and intimate area. Skin fungus often begins on the inner sides of the thighs. Extends as it progresses. Skin infection caused by yeastSkin infections caused by yeasts of the Candida genus are called cutaneous candidiasis. This form of skin fungus occurs mainly in body folds: for example in the armpit, groin, intimate area, under the female breast or between the buttocks.
You can find more on the subject of skin diseases in the ie Skin& Allergy by FOCUS-GESUNDHEIT, available as E-Paper or Print booklet.
What causes skin fungus?
Skin fungus belongs to the infectious diseases. This means that the causative pathogens are contagious. In most cases Transmission from person to person – either directly through body contact or indirectly through contaminated objects. This includes clothing and shoes, but also floors, bath mats or seating furniture, on which pathogen-containing skin flakes are found. Since skin fungi like to moist and warm skin fungi, the risk of contracting them is particularly high in swimming pools, saunas, showers and toilets.
The most important skin fungus pathogens
By far the most common cause of skin fungus, accounting for over 70 percent of all cases, are filamentous fungi known as dermatophytes. Three genera of these pathogens, which do not normally occur in healthy skin, are of medical relevance. These are called epidermophytes, Microsporum and Trychophyton. Filamentous fungi feed mainly on keratin, which is found in the epidermis and in skin appendages such as nails and hair. For this reason, dermatophyte-related skin fungus – doctors refer to these infections as tinea or dermatophytosis – is generally limited to the uppermost layers of the skin.
Yeast fungi, on the other hand, can also infect the mucous membranes and, in the worst case, even spread to internal organs, although this rarely occurs overall. The best-known representative is the natural skin inhabitant Candida albicans, which triggers diaper dermatitis in infants and small children.
Another yeast infection of the skin, widespread in tropical regions, is the Kleienpilzflechte, known in technical language as Pityriasis vesicolor. Molds such as Aspergillus play only a very subordinate role as pathogens of skin fungus.
What factors promote skin fungus?
Injured, poorly perfused or otherwise pathologically altered skin areas are particularly susceptible to fungal infections. This is shown, for example, by diaper dermatitis, in which fungi colonize already inflamed skin on the baby's bottom. However, skin fungus can also settle in healthy skin regions, especially if a rather humid and warm climate prevails in these areas. In the groin region, the armpits or the spaces between the toes, most skin fungus pathogens can both multiply better and penetrate more easily into the softened skin. Therefore, people who sweat a lot, wear tight, not very air-permeable clothing or are overweight, suffer more often from skin fungus.
Another risk factor for the fungal infections is a weakened body defenses. Possible causes are underlying diseases such as diabetes and AIDS, but also a therapy with drugs that suppress the immune system – so-called immunosuppressants.
Prevent skin fungus
Where many people walk barefoot, the risk of contracting fungal skin pathogens increases. The most important rule to prevent skin fungus on the foot is therefore to always wear bathing shoes or slippers in swimming pools, saunas, changing rooms or hotel rooms. Since many skin fungi prefer a warm and humid environment, it helps to dry the skin thoroughly after each contact with water. This is especially true for the spaces between skin folds, toes and fingers. Airy, breathable clothing and shoes also prevent skin fungus.
– Moll, I: Dual series dermatology; Thieme publishing house; 8. Edition 2016 – Siegenthaler, W.Siegenthaler's differential diagnosis of internal diseases; Thieme Verlag; 20. This article contains general information. Must not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor. You can find the right doctor via our medical directory.