Fungal Infections of the Skin


Ringworm is caused by fungus and appears as a pink, red or brown patch on the skin with well-defined borders that are often raised. It can appear dry and flakey, scaly, or even crusty with oozing.

Typically it is itchy, and a person may have multiple areas on the body involved. Although it is more common in children, adults can be susceptible too. It may be spread from person to person through skin to skin contact, but objects, clothing, or contaminated surfaces can also transfer it. Pets with round areas of hair loss should be evaluated by a veterinarian for possible ringworm.

Ringworm is usually identified by a dermatologist visually or the skin may be scraped to identify the presence of fungus under a microscope.

Athletes Foot

Athletes foot is another common name for foot fungus. Foot fungus most commonly appears as an itchy or burning rash between the small toes on the foot, or on the inner foot. The skin may crack, split, or peel, and there is often an odor. Sometimes it just looks like a dry foot all over with cracked heels.

Treatments may include topical or oral medications, as well as advice on proper foot care. Recurrence is common in susceptible individuals and in the right environment such as wet warm dark places. Treatment can eliminate the fungus and prophylactic treatments can reduce recurrence.

Nail Fungus (Onychomycosis)

Nail fungus is a fungal infection in either a fingernail or a toenail. Fungal infection can cause nails to become brittle or discolored and thickened.

Diagnosis can be made through physical examination and a culture of the nail. Many things can cause nails to thicken or discolor including chronic eczema, skin irritation, psoriasis or previous trauma.

Treatment of nail fungus includes either a prescription topical or an oral anti-fungal medication. Laser treatments for nail fungus can be effective but are expensive and have lower percentage effectiveness than the oral route. Treatments are usually 3-12 months for cure.

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