Skin fungus is a common skin issue affecting people of all ages, including children. In fact, fungus infection is practically impossible to avoid as fungi live virtually everywhere.
Now, there are beneficial fungi, which naturally live on the skin. Normally, we aren’t aware of these. But, when these fungi proliferate, i.e. when they multiply out of balance, skin issues such as athlete’s foot, ringworm, jock itch or yeast infections occur. Although not life-threatening, these conditions can be really uncomfortable, and even embarrassing.
There are a number of contributors to skin fungus. The most common include sharing clothes and personal hygiene items with someone already infected.
The most common risk groups include:
- People who sweat excessively (fungus thrives in moist places)
- People with weakened immune system
- People working close together with people that are at higher risk of getting infected like doctors, nurses, students etc.
- People who have been taking antibiotics or immunosuppressants for a long time
- People or children who don’t have bladder control
The most affected parts of the body include the armpits, toes and feet, genital area and places where skin creases because fungus depends on moisture to reproduce and thrive.
One way to get skin fungus is through direct contact with someone infected or with their skin cells, meaning you should always be careful when using public areas such as swimming pools and locker rooms. It’s also important never to use things like combs or towel in those places.
It’s also good to know that synthetic materials also create perfect breeding grounds for fungi, so aim at wearing natural fabrics like cotton and linen. Pay particular attention when choosing your underwear. Also, keeping your skin, especially the skin under your breasts, clean and dry throughout the day is important too. Don’t forget your toes too, especially if you spend a long time in footwear.
A weakened immune system is another risk for fungal infections. A healthy well-balanced diet including lots of vegetables and fruits as well as natural probiotics, like yoghurt, can significantly improve your body’s immune response. As fungus thrives on sugar, it’s essential to cut down carbohydrates and increase protein and healthy fat intake. Proper hydration and good quality sleep are important too.
As fungal infections are highly infectious, avoid scratching the affected area in order to prevent spreading of the infection. Plus, maintaining proper hygiene at all times, like keeping the skin clean and dry, speeds up recovery. Use only clean towels to wipe your skin and make sure you wash them on a hot cycle afterwards.
Being updated on different types of fungal infections is important too. Fungal infections often give different symptoms depending on the area where they occur. For instance, athlete’s foot affects the toes and the skin in between causing prickly red skin. It can sometimes affect the soles of the feet as well.
Jock itch affects the groin area, predominantly in teen boys and adult males who play sports and spend a lot of time in locker rooms. It’s manifested by red scaly patches on the skin that feels sore.
Ringworm infection look like a small lifted red area resembling a small blemish. It is prickly and becomes flaky in no time. It affects different parts of the body except for the scalp, feet and groins.
There are a number of over-the-counter ointments and powders that effectively treat fungal infections. Although not serious, these skin conditions can affect the quality of your life, so it’s highly recommended to consult a doctor before you start treatment on your own. This is particularly important if you have a low immune system or diabetes.