Types Of Fungal Infection

It’s important to realise that not all types of infections of the skin referred to as “fungal infections” are due to Candida albicans. There are actually many other types of fungus infection of the skin, hair and nails apart from yeasts of the Candida family. This is important because the type of infection determines the type of treatment needed. You wouldn’t necessarily use a yeast infection home remedy in cases of ringworm, for example. Home remedies that will destroy Candida may be ineffective against other species of Dermatophyte.

Classification of fungal skin infections

Skin is subject to fungal infection because microorganisms which cause these infections can live off keratin, a protein which is found in skin and hair and nails.

There are several types of fungal skin infections, the most common of which are as follows:

Dermatophyte infections

(A Dermatophyte is a fungus which affects the skin. The organisms which are responsible for such infections include the familiar yeast Candida albicans and many other species.  These other species tend to be responsible for  conditions like Athlete’s foot.)

Athlete’s foot (Tinea pedis)

Did you know that some estimates suggest as many as one person in six actually has athlete’s foot at any one time? Clearly it’s extremely common. This infection is caused by a fungus that tends to make skin itchy and flaky, and occasionally causes the skin to crack, particularly between the toes. It might even cause blisters. In mild cases, you might not feel a thing, and you can only identify it by looking between your toes and finding signs such as flaking skin.

Athlete’s foot can be picked up by contamination in infected areas such as communal changing facilities, swimming pools and perhaps even saunas. If you touch it, and then put your hand on other parts of your body, you can spread it into other areas of your own body, particularly your underarms area and your groin area. Good hygiene is therefore essential when you’re dealing with this problem. It is caused by a yeast infection, and can be cured using over-the-counter medications or suitable home remedies, though possibly not those suitable for Candida infections.

Medilexicon’s medical dictionary defines Tinea Pedis as:

Dermatophytosis of the feet, especially of the skin between the toes, caused by one of the dermatophytes, usually a species of Trichophyton or Epidermophyton; the disease consists of small vesicles, fissures, scaling, maceration, and eroded areas between the toes and on the plantar surface of the foot; other skin areas may be involved.

athletes-foot-mild

Nail infections (Tinea unguium)

Because the nails are hard, the development and cure of nail infections can take a long time. The nail usually discolors and often changes texture; surrounding tissue may be affected as well. Toenails are more affected than fingernails.

toe-fungus

Jock itch (Tinea cruris)

Once again, this is a problem in the groin because the area can be moist and warm. It’s a common problem for athletes and young men, perhaps because of the folds of the scrotum providing an ideal environment for the fungus to grow. This is a fungal or yeast infection, which can be passed by direct contact or even contact with unwashed clothes. Symptoms tend to include a red and itchy rash in the groin or surrounding area. It can develop after you touched athletes felt and then moved your hand onto your groin area.

Infections such as this are caused by various types of fungus, including yeasts such as Candida (yeast), Trichophyton and Epidermophyton (fungal molds). Candida regularly occurs in the groin area, on the penis, and the vulva and vagina, so if you have any doubt about which organism is affecting you, please see a doctor.

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Penile Yeast Infection

image of balanitis

Ringworm of the body (Tinea corporis)

This is a fungal infection that can affect exposed parts of the skin, including the arms, face and legs. The key sign of ringworm is a circular red shaped rash. It can be passed by direct contact or by touching contaminated clothing, swimming pools surfaces, make up access is, and so on. It can also be passed on from domesticated animals who can carry the fungus that causes this particular form of fungal infection. Over the counter medications are available to treat it.

ringworm

Ringworm of the scalp (Tinea capitis)

Although this is mostly a problem found in children, can occur at any age. It can affect all of the scalp, or just parts of it, and the symptoms are similar to those in other parts of the body. Unfortunately may also cause the hair to fall out, and can, in extreme cases, cost-plus filled areas to develop.

tine-scalp

Other skin infections caused by yeast infections:

Intertrigo

This is yeast infection which develops between folds of skin. It is caused by our old friend Candida albicans, which likes the environment between two skin folds where they rub together. It therefore tends to affect obese people, and areas of the body where conditions are warm and moist with close skin folds.

Thrush

This is also caused by Candida albicans. While Candida is usually present in the stomach, gut, vagina and mouth and is found on the skin, vulva, and penis, it generally causes no problems. As we know, under certain conditions it will multiply rapidly, causing symptoms known as “thrush”. These look like small patches of white fungal infection, and in the vagina & penis can be accompanied by intense itching and white discharge. Although this is commonly described as white, cottage cheese, it actually can vary from slightly watery to thick and white.

thrushcreativecommons

Newborn babies are commonly affected by thrush, which develops as white patches in their mouths. As you can see, there is a wide variety of organisms which can be responsible for fungal infections, and if you’re in any doubt about the source of your infection, please see a qualified medical practitioner.

Home Remedies For Athlete’s Foot

On another page of this site we’re going to give some home remedies for  another fungal infection, athlete’s foot. Unlike the home remedies for Candida albicans infection, these tend to be practical remedies about hygiene and care of different parts of the body. For example, keeping your feet clean and dry is a key step in keeping athlete’s foot at bay. So is ensuring that you avoid sources of infection such as walking barefoot on changing room or locker room floors, swimming baths, and saunas. These are practical steps, but highly effective in warding off the likelihood of athlete’s foot and other fungal and non-fungal infections.

Is Jock Itch Related To Vaginal Candidiasis?

Well no, according to “go ask Alice”, the medical information service of Columbia University. One girl wrote in to say that she developed a yeast infection in her vagina several days after having sex with a guy who had jock itch. She asked if there might be a connection. The answer seems to be that there is no obvious relationship.

For one thing jock itch is caused by a dermatophyte such as Trichophyton rubrum, which is different to Candida albicans, the source of vaginal fungal infection. Trichophyton can grow on skin, mucous membranes and internal tissues. It’s still a fungus, and therefore it’s correctly referred to as a fungal infection, but this is not the yeast infection generally spoken of when we talk about Candida albicans overgrowth.

As described elsewhere on this website, Candida is normally present in the vagina, but is controlled by the presence of probiotic bacteria. More accurately, by the environment these bacteria create (a slightly acidic one.) When Candida overgrows, it can produce the symptoms of “yeast infection” (thrush).

Possible causes of this include use of certain birth control tablets containing progesterone, a weak immune system, hormonal changes during pregnancy, diabetes, treatment with antibiotics, bacterial vaginosis (or any other factor that changes the internal environment of the vagina), excess consumption of sugar, and even macerating friction between different skin surfaces.

Now, having said that, men can get Candida infections in the groin, and they may pick up a fungal infection from a female partner if they have had sex with her when she is infected with thrush.

Thrush can also be transmitted to women from men, so I think the answer given by the Columbia health service is slightly ambiguous or perhaps incomplete. This guy may or may not have had a Candida infection on his genitals, and if he did it’s possible that he passed it on to his partner. And since jock itch, as caused by Trichophyton species, is also contagious, there was a risk of the woman getting an infection simply from bodily contact with a sexual partner.

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