Many skin diseases, such as ringworm, thrush, nail infections and athlete’s foot are caused by fungi.
Symptoms of fungal skin infections
The symptoms of a fungal skin infection depend on the type of fungus that’s caused it, and where it is. You may notice changes in your skin, hair or nails, which may or may not cause you some discomfort. The fungus can affect just one area, or several areas of your body.
Fungal skin infections can cause a variety of different skin rashes. Some are red, scaly and itchy and others may cause skin discolouration or produce a fine scale, similar to dry skin. Fungal rashes can sometimes be confused with other skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis so it is important to get any changes to the skin checked out to ensure the correct treatment.
If you get a fungal infection of your scalp, you may lose some hair.
Causes of fungal skin infections
There are many different fungi which can cause infections of your skin, hair and nails. These may be spread from person to person, from animals to people or close contact with clothing, toiletries or furniture that carries the fungi. Walking barefoot on communal shower or pool floors also increase the risk of picking up fungi on your feet.
Fungi like warmth and moisture so you’re more likely to get an infection if you:
- Wear tight clothing, or shoes that don’t let your feet ‘breathe’ in a warm, humid environment
- Are overweight and so have skin folds which rub against each other
You’re also more likely to get a fungal infection if you:
- Have a weakened immune system through illness (such as HIV) or use medication (such as corticosteroids)
- Have diabetes
- Having been taking antibiotics
- Are pregnant
Treatment is topical or anti-fungal depending on the fungal infection.
Prevention of fungal skin infections
There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting a fungal skin infection and stop an infection from spreading. Here are some tips;
- Dry your skin well after you have a bath or shower.
- Wash your socks, clothes and bed linen regularly to remove any fungi.
- Don’t walk barefoot in communal areas, such as showers, saunas and swimming pools.
- Wear loose- fitting cotton clothes, or breathable fabrics that are designed to keep moisture away from your skin.
- Don’t share towels, hairbrushes or combs as they could be carrying fungi.
- If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar under control.