Fungal Infections

A fungal infection is caused by a type of fungus called a dermophyte that infects the top layer of the skin on your body (Tinea Corporis), scalp (Tinea Capitis), groin area (Tinea Cruris, also called jock itch), or feet (Tinia Pedis, also called athlete's foot).

In most cases, these infections are not life threatening. However, they may lead to more serious bacterial infections, especially in the elderly and those who have conditions that affect the immune system, such as AIDS. The following are types of fungal infections.


Athlete's Foot

Also known as tinea pedis is a fungal infection of the skin that causes scaling, flaking, and itching of affected areas. It is typically transmitted in moist areas where people walk barefoot, such as showers or bathhouses. Athlete's foot causes scaling, flaking, and itching of the affected skin on one or both feet. Blisters and cracked skin may also occur, leading to exposed raw tissue, pain, swelling, and inflammation. Secondary bacterial infection can accompany the fungal infection.

Nail Fungus

Nail fungus, also called Tinea Unguium or Onychomychosis, affects the fingernails and toenails. This disease is commonly misunderstood and left untreated for various reasons. The fungi that cause toenail fungus are related to those that cause ringworm, athelete's foot, and other common fungal infections. The nail plate can have a thickened, yellow, or cloudy appearance. The nails can become rough and crumbly, or can separate from the nail bed. There is usually no pain or other bodily symptoms, unless the disease is severe. These fungi can also be confused with other conditions, such as psoriasis of the nails and sometimes bacterial infections.

Tinea Versicolor

Tinea versicolor is a common skin condition caused by an overgrowth of yeast on the skin's surface. The yeast normally live in the pores of the skin and thrives in oily areas such as the neck, upper chest, and back. An overgrowth results in a fungal infection that causes uneven skin color, scaling, and sometimes itching.

These spots commonly affect the back, underarm, upper arm, chest, lower legs, and neck. Occasionally it can also be present on the face and can appear as small scaly white-to-pink or tan-to-dark spots. The fungus prevents the skin from tanning normally, so as the rest of the skin tans, pale spots become more noticeable, especially on dark skin.

Tinea Capitis

Tinea capitis, also known as Ringworm, is a superficial fungal infection of the scalp. It usually affects children and disappears at puberty; however, it can occur at any age. It may appear as thickened, scaly, and sometimes boggy swellings, or as expanding raised red rings. Common symptoms are severe itching of the scalp, dandruff, and bald patches where the fungus has rooted itself in the skin.

Tinea infections are contagious. You can catch tinea capitis if you come into direct contact with someone who has the condition, or if you touch contaminated items such as combs, hats, or clothing. The infection can also be spread by pets, particularly cats.

Tinea Cruris

Tinea cruris, also called Jock itch or ringworm of the groin, is an infection of the groin area caused by fungus. Symptoms include, itching in groin, thigh skin folds, or anus, with red, raised, scaly patches that may blister and ooze. The patches often have sharply-defined edges and are often redder around the outside with normal skin tone in the center or abnormally dark or light skin. Severe infections, frequently recurring infections, or infections lasting longer than two weeks may require further treatment by your doctor.

Tinea Corporis

Tinea Corporis, also called Ringworm is a skin infection caused by a fungus. Ringworm is a common skin disorder, especially among children, but it may affect people of all ages. Although its name suggests otherwise, it is caused by a fungus, not a worm.

Many bacteria and fungi live on your body. Some of these are useful to you and your body. Others can multiply rapidly and form infections. Tinea Corporis occurs when a particular type of fungus grows and multiplies anywhere on your skin, scalp, or nails.

Ringworm is contagious. It can be passed from one person to the next by direct skin-to-skin contact or by contact with contaminated items such as combs, unwashed clothing, and shower or pool surfaces. You can also catch ringworm from pets that carry the fungus. Cats are common carriers.


Candidiasis is an infection caused by a yeast-like fungus called candida There are more than 20 species of Candida, the most common being Candida albicans. These fungi live on all surfaces of our bodies and under certain conditions they can become so numerous they cause infections, particularly in warm and moist areas. It can infect the mouth, vagina, skin, stomach, and urinary tract. About 75% of women will get a vaginal yeast infection during their lifetime, and 90% of all people with HIV/AIDS develop candida infections. Oral infections (called oral thrush) are most common in infants, elderly people, and those with a weakened immune system.

Symptoms of candidiasis may include creamy white patches in the mouth or on the throat (oral thrush), painful cracks at the corners of the mouth, skin rashes, patches, and blisters found most commonly in the groin, between fingers and toes, and under the breasts, Vaginal itching and irritation with a white discharge resembling cottage cheese (vaginal yeast infection).


Thrush is an infection of the mouth caused by the candida fungus, also known as yeast. Candida infection is not limited to the mouth; it can occur in other parts of the body as well, causing diaper rash in infants or vaginal yeast infections in women. Thrush can affect anyone, though it occurs most often in babies and toddlers, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

Small amounts of the candida fungus are present in the mouth, digestive tract, and skin of most healthy people and are normally kept in check by other bacteria and microorganisms in the body. However, certain illnesses, stress, or medications can disturb the delicate balance, causing the fungus candida to grow out of control, causing thrush.

Thrush usually develops suddenly, but it may become chronic, persisting over a long period of time. A common sign of thrush is the presence of creamy white, slightly raised lesions in your mouth—usually on your tongue or inner cheeks—but also sometimes on the roof of your mouth, gums, tonsils, or back of your throat. The lesions, which may have a "cottage cheese" appearance, can be painful and may bleed slightly when you scrape them or brush your teeth.

Vaginal Candidiasis

Vaginal candidiasis is a very common yeast infection of the vagina. It caused by a fungal microorganism called Candida albicans and normally lives in the body in balance with other microorganisms such as "friendly" bacteria. Women at risk for vaginal candidiasis include those taking strong antibiotics, especially for a long period of time. Antibiotics kill bacteria, which can alter the balance of microorganisms in the vagina. This can result thick, white-yellow discharge that might be accompanied by itching, burning and swelling.


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