Fungal Diseases

Fungal Diseases of the Skin, Hair, and Nails

Fungal infections of the skin, hair, and nails are very common and generally mild. However, in some people who have a weakened immune system, a fungal infection can cause severe disease. Fungal infections can be superficial, subcutaneous, or systemic. Most fungal infections are superficial and treatable.

Skin

Tinea corporis is a superficial fungal infection of the skin that affects anywhere except the hands, feet, scalp, face, groin, and nails. This infection is most known as ringworm because the infection presents as ring-shaped lesions. Tinea corporis often presents as red patches with scaly edges and a border that can be popular or pustular, and the infection is generally itchy.

Tinea pedis, also known as athlete’s foot, is a superficial fungal infection of the feet. This is the most common superficial fungal infection and is prevalent in hot, tropical, and urban environments. Tinea pedis is usually acquired through direct contact with infected materials such as shared towels, shared equipment, and walking barefoot in public areas.

Tinea cruris, also known as jock itch, is a superficial fungal infection of the groin, public region, and adjacent thigh. The infection presents as a localized, asymmetrical rash that is often itchy.

Hair

Tinea capitis is a fungal infection of the scalp that involves both the skin and hair. Symptoms of tinea capitis include dry scaly areas, redness, itch, and hair loss in the infected areas. Tinea capitis is most common in preadolescent children and adults who are immunocompromised.

Nails

Tinea unguium, also known as onychomycosis, is a fungal infection of the nails that makes the nails become thick and discolored. Fungal infections are more common in the toenails than fingernails and can coexist with tinea pedis, or foot fungus.

What is the treatment?

  • Topical medications: Topical antifungal creams or solutions can be prescribed for the scalp, skin, and nails. Anti-fungal shampoos can also be prescribed for the scalp and as a wash for the body.
  • Oral medications: Oral antifungal medications can be prescribed to help clear fungal infections. Sometimes your dermatologist might send a skin scraping or nail clipping to a dermatopathologist for analysis to determine the best medication for treatment.
  • What to do at home:
    • Keep all areas clean and dry
    • Avoid sharing personal belongings
    • Wear loose fitting clothing

If you suspect that you have a fungal infection, reach out to our dermatologists to seek care and determine the best treatment plan for you.