What is a Fungal Skin Infection?

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  • Written By: Adam Hill
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 06 April 2019
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Fungi are organisms that can cause infection in humans, and many of these infections involve the skin. Some types of fungi are naturally present in our bodies, while others are foreign to us. A fungal skin infection is usually the result of the presence of some type of foreign fungus on the skin. These fungi grow best on those areas of the skin that are warm, dark and moist. The symptoms of a fungal skin infection vary depending on exactly which type of fungus is present, but an itchy rash on the skin is almost universal.

Among the more common varieties of fungal skin infection are athlete's foot, jock itch and yeast infections. Athlete's foot may be the most common one of all. Environments like shoes, socks, locker rooms and floors in gym showers all provide ideal conditions for athlete's foot fungus to grow and spread. This infection is characterized by peeling and intense itching on the skin of the feet, and more severe cases can lead to redness and blistering as well.

Not all skin with such symptoms is indicative of a fungal skin infection. Only a doctor can properly diagnose a fungal infection, and this is usually done by examining skin scrapings under a microscope. A biopsy may sometimes be required as well.


Jock itch and ringworm are two other fungal infections that are somewhat similar as to their symptoms. While they are less common than athlete's foot, and occur on different areas of the body, they usually respond to the same treatments. Topical anti-fungal creams are almost always the first line of defense once a fungal skin infection has set in. These usually go a long way to reduce symptoms and stop the spread of the infection. It is important to remember that a fungus can remain in the skin after the symptoms of the infection are gone, and therefore a treatment should not be stopped prematurely just because the symptoms improve.

Most fungal skin infections are fairly easy to prevent through proper hygiene. In the case of athlete's foot, it is a good idea to wear shoes that allow air to circulate and reach the skin, as often as possible. This will reduce moisture on the skin and make it very hard for a fungus to become established and grow. Avoiding the use of other people's personal items in public areas is also helpful to avoid transmission of a fungal infection.



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