The skin, being the body’s first layer of protection, keeps bacteria and other foreign invaders from entering the body. However, when it cannot protect itself, skin conditions such as fungal infections occur. Fungal skin infections may most likely develop through the accumulation of microscopic organisms in dark, warm, and moist areas in the body.
WHAT IS A RINGWORM?
This skin condition appears on the skin as scaly skin or small blisters forming a red ring, forming outward as the infection spreads throughout the surrounding skin. Fungi called dermatophytes are often responsible for this disease. Other types of ringworm may also be found on the scalp, face, hands, and nails.
WHAT AREAS ARE COMMONLY AFFECTED FROM FUNGAL INFECTIONS?
Also known as tinea manuum, ringworm commonly targets the hands, appearing on areas such as the palms and the spaces between one’s fingers. Hyperkeratosis, or thickening, is most often found on these areas.
WHAT IS ATHLETE’S FOOT?
Also known as tinea pedis, it is a fungal infection or ringworm of the feet. It may manifest peeling, itching, and burning of the skin. Sometimes it could even develop sores and blisters if not properly managed. Since the feet normally become warm and moist in wearing shoes and socks, fungus can accumulate in this area best.
WHAT CAUSES ATHLETE’S FOOT?
Wearing shoes that are too tight can prevent the feet to breathe and may produce fungal growth. Fungus thrives on dead tissue of the toenails and outer layers of the skin on the feet. A common fungus, called trichophyton rubrum, is usually responsible for athlete’s foot.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR ATHLETE’S FOOT?
Topical antifungal medication can be applied on one’s feet to treat this condition. However, in severe conditions, the physician may advise oral drugs. Dr. Matsuda and Dr. Sheu in Honolulu, HI may prescribe you with effective treatments for this condition. Other than medications, it is advised that the patient keep his or her feet clean and dry at all times.
WHERE ELSE CAN RINGWORM DEVELOP?
Ringworm can also develop on the nails. This condition, also called tinea unguium, is manifested by malformed, crumbly, and thickened nails. It is also commonly linked with athlete’s foot as it also develops on the toenails. Tinea cruris, or ringworm of the groin, is common in young men who are actively participating in sports activities. In this case, the groin becomes itchy and appears red. Ringworm can also occur on one’s body, or tinea corporis, particularly in the abdomen or limbs. It often appears red and raised, surrounding the clear area in the middle.
WHAT ARE YEAST INFECTIONS?
There are different types of yeast infections, which are caused by the fungus called Candida albicans.
Thrush. Naturally, we possess the candida fungus in our bodies. However, when the immune system is compromised, such as in cases of illness, pregnancy, or poorly controlled diabetes, this fungus can multiply causing thrush. Thrush often occurs in the mouth, yet it can also develop in areas that have a mucus membrane. These areas include the vagina as well as other areas in the skin which are commonly folded. Genital thrush can be painful, itchy, and may manifest a white discharge. It is also commonly found on the side of the mouths of newborn babies.
Intertrigo. Candida albicans may abnormally develop on certain areas on your skin where the environment is moist and warm. Intertrigo, which is characterized by soreness, scaling, and itching, may be commonly found on the armpits, groin, or on the skin under the breast.
Pityriasis versicolor. Literally meaning ‘of various colors’, this type of yeast infection commonly manifests as dark patches that appear in contrast to pale skin as well as light patches on people with darker skin. It commonly occurs in Hawaii with its warm, humid climate.
WHO ARE AT RISK FOR FUNGAL INFECTIONS?
There are various causes of fungal infections. You are at most risk of this condition if:
- You are currently on steroids.
- You are currently on antibiotic therapy.
- You are overweight.
- You have diabetes (and uncontrolled, at that).
- You have a compromised immune system (such as in the case of HIV or cancer).
- You have had any type of fungal skin infection in the past.
HOW ARE FUNGAL INFECTIONS PREVENTED?
Here are some preventive measures to reduce your risk of fungal infections.
- Wear loose fitting underwear.
- Choose socks that are of cotton material.
- Do not share towels and combs.
- Always wear sandals in communal areas, such as locker rooms and swimming pools.
- Dry your skin thoroughly after taking a bath.
- Change clothes every day.