Skin fungus or dermatomycosis is one of the most common skin diseases in all countries, but this disease is actually easy to avoid. Anyone who does become infected should go to the doctor immediately in order to get rid of the disease as quickly as possible.
What is a skin fungus?
In dermatology, a skin fungus is also referred to as dermatomycosis or tinea. This is an infection that leads to skin disease. The disease is characterized by itching, redness and flaking of the affected areas of the skin. It is triggered by certain fungi, which are also called dermatophytes in technical jargon.
There are usually three different types of fungi that cause this disease: trichophytes, microspores or epidermophytes. Trichophytes are the pathogens that are considered to be the cause of skin fungus in about 70 percent of cases in Central Europe.
The superficial skin fungus is also known as tinea superficialis and can appear on all kinds of parts of the body. The so-called tinea profunda usually affects the deeper skin layers of hairy parts of the body, mainly the head and beard area.
In order for a skin fungus to break out, certain areas of the skin must come into contact with a pathogen. The pathogens enter the body, spread around the area of entry and trigger inflammation of the skin.
Skin fungus on feet is particularly common. Especially public buildings such as swimming or outdoor pools, where people walk barefoot and there is a warm, humid climate that promotes fungi, are often places where you can easily get infected with skin fungus (or athlete’s foot ). In addition to floors, contaminated objects can also be the cause of infection with a skin fungus.
Animals can also be carriers of fungal diseases. The pathogens are passed on to humans when they are stroked or when cleaning cages or brushes. The danger for humans here is that the fungi can often survive for a long time in the horn material of the animals without the animals showing any symptoms of the pathogen. People with a weakened immune system are particularly susceptible to skin fungal diseases.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Skin fungus is usually associated with very unpleasant symptoms that have a very negative effect on the patient’s quality of life and also significantly reduce it. The patients primarily suffer from redness that occurs directly on the skin. This redness spreads over the entire body and thus also reduces the aesthetics of the person concerned.
Many patients therefore also suffer from significantly reduced self-esteem and inferiority complexes, which can lead to psychological problems. The redness is often associated with itching, which only gets worse when you scratch it. Abscesses can also develop. If the person concerned scratches the redness, scars can also appear.
The skin fungus can also be transmitted to other people if proper hygiene is not observed. Patients often lose hair on the affected areas, making these areas appear bald and unsightly. However, the life expectancy of those affected is not negatively affected by the skin fungus. Special complications usually do not arise with this disease if it is treated in time. It can also be limited relatively well by means of self-help.
Diagnosis & History
A superficial skin fungus is expressed by reddened and scaly areas of skin that itch badly. The hair on infected skin areas also typically breaks off. If the deeper layers of the skin are infected, the pathogens usually spread along the hair roots.
This leads to inflammation with abscesses and accumulations of pus, which later form crusts. The inflamed hairs are easy to pull out and often lead to bald spots. Due to the many easily noticeable symptoms, a diagnosis can often be made quickly.
Usually, a skin fungus is diagnosed by examining it with a microscope or using the Wood light method, in which the affected skin areas are irradiated with ultraviolet light and the color of the skin areas indicates a disease.
The skin fungus causes very unpleasant discomfort and symptoms on the patient’s skin. In most cases, the skin is red and itchy. This usually gets worse when the patient scratches their skin.
As the disease progresses, abscesses form. The skin fungus also has a negative effect on the patient’s self-esteem and often leads to an inferiority complex. Those affected are often ashamed of the symptoms and are socially excluded. In children, the skin fungus can also lead to exclusion or bullying. Furthermore, the skin fungus can also lead to psychological complaints and, not infrequently, depression.
The affected areas can also be associated with pain, which sometimes puts sleep at a disadvantage. The skin fungus does not usually disappear if it is not explicitly treated. The treatment itself does not lead to further complications or symptoms. The symptoms can be relieved relatively well with the help of medication. In some cases, the skin fungus leads to hair loss. This can also be stopped with the help of medication.
When should you go to the doctor?
Skin changes are often considered unusual and should be monitored. If redness or swelling occurs, a doctor’s visit is necessary as soon as it lasts for several days. The spread of the changes should also be examined by a doctor. If you experience itching or blistering on your skin, see a doctor unless it is caused by a minor insect bite. A dry or easily inflamed skin quality is a reason for a medical clarification.
If scaling or the formation of a horny layer occurs in some areas of the body, a doctor’s visit is recommended. As soon as your own targeted body care does not bring any improvement, there is a skin disease that should be investigated. The person concerned can try to alleviate the symptoms with particularly moisturizing cosmetics. If this is not achieved within a few weeks or if the hardening of the skin increases, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
In particular, thickened and discolored skin layers should be examined. In the case of tears in the skin or open wounds, sterile wound care must be provided. Pathogens can get into the organism through the skin and trigger further diseases. Skin pain, numbness or sensory disturbances must also be examined and treated by a doctor.
Treatment & Therapy
A fungal skin disease does not go away without treatment. Instead, it spreads further and usually leads to infection of other people. It must therefore be treated medically in all cases.
The treatment of a skin fungus disease depends on the type and spread of the skin fungus. If the disease is superficial and detected relatively early, treatment with an appropriate drug, a so-called antifungal, is usually sufficient, which is available in the form of a cream or a liquid solution in the pharmacy.
The symptoms of the skin fungal disease are often alleviated after hours and the disease is completely healed after just a few days. On the other hand, treating skin fungal diseases in the deeper layers of the skin takes much more time. This requires both the administration of a drug that is applied locally to the affected areas and another drug that has to be taken orally over a longer period of time.
This drug then ensures that the pathogens are eliminated from the inside out. Depending on the severity of the disease, treatment can last up to several months. As a rule, however, a cure is possible in all cases, only an infection of the deeper layers of the skin can lead to permanent hair loss in the affected areas. In order to ensure successful healing, it is also possible to eliminate any causes of the disease and to take preventive measures in the future.
Outlook & Forecast
Skin fungus can be very stubborn and, if left untreated, will only disappear in an otherwise healthy person with an intact immune system after several months. However, it often occurs in immunocompromised patients. Since the skin is often poorly supplied with blood anyway and the immune system can therefore only attack there with difficulty, the skin fungus can persist for a very long time in these cases and also spread further. In the worst case, it weakens the immune system so severely that it can penetrate further into the body and infect internal structures and organs.
Treatment with oral and topical fungicides helps to heal skin fungus faster and without such sequelae. Due to the weak blood circulation in the skin, however, weeks or even months can be expected with such a treatment. The first results can be observed more quickly in otherwise healthy patients than in people with a weak immune system.
If there are no other health problems apart from the skin fungus, even an over-the-counter fundicide as an ointment from the pharmacy can be sufficient. The skin fungus can be treated at home if it has only spread a little. When the fungicide begins to take effect, the affected area of skin will initially become dry and scaly, which deprives the fungus of its livelihood. The visible redness will then subside and over time the skin will look the same as it did before the fungus broke out.
There are several ways to prevent skin fungus. Walking barefoot in public buildings should be avoided. Wearing slippers or flip-flops in swimming pools, saunas, hotel rooms and other places makes sense. There are also sprays and creams on the market that can be applied prophylactically to the feet after swimming.
Especially after swimming or showering, you should make sure that all parts of your body are dried well, including the areas between your toes. Shoes and socks can also be additionally disinfected. When cleaning objects that have been in contact with animals, it is advisable to use a fungicidal disinfectant spray.
A healed skin fungus does not lead to any immunity against re-infection. Former patients have a high degree of personal responsibility to prevent a recurrence of the disease. Preventive measures promise a remedy. Appropriate footwear should be worn in high-traffic and high-risk locations, such as swimming pools and hotel rooms.
Thoroughly dry skin on toes, genitals and armpits. However, systematic follow-up care including scheduled doctor appointments after successful treatment is not planned. As is known, there are no more complaints.
A fungal infection is often persistent. Patients with a chronic immune deficiency in particular suffer for months or even years. Depending on the severity, certain medications are used. In mild cases, external treatment is carried out using ointments, sprays or creams. If this therapy does not lead to the desired success, the doctor treating you usually prescribes tablets.
In order to replenish the therapeutic means, the doctor and patient agree on mandatory appointments. The doctor assesses the course of the disease and takes swabs if necessary. With the last he creates a fungal culture and can thus adjust the therapy. In the case of stubborn forms of progression, medical support in everyday life plays an important role. Information on hygiene, for example, rounds off the advisory service.
You can do that yourself
If you suspect skin fungus, you should consult your family doctor or a dermatologist. Sometimes the medical treatment can be supported by various home remedies and self-help measures.
First of all, it is always important to dry the skin carefully after bathing or washing. Breathable clothing made of cotton, linen or microfiber reduces perspiration and thus the development of skin fungus. Since the disease is contagious, towels, clothing and bed linen should be washed at over 60 degrees. In addition, there are household remedies such as baby powder or baking soda. Both prevent fungi and relieve the unpleasant itching on the skin.
Proven alternatives include coconut oil, garlic, lavender oil, or plain yogurt applied directly to the affected area. Aloe vera also provides quick relief. The remedy relieves itching and at the same time nourishes the skin. External and internal use is possible.
Alcohol-based disinfectants can be used in the case of severe fungal infestation. Medical alcohol in the form of disinfectant solutions can also prevent further spread of the infection. In order to avoid complications such as skin injuries and dehydration, such aggressive agents should only be used after consultation.