There is one fungus you surely know and love - mushrooms. But, to leave food aside, when we are talking about fungus on the skin, we mean annoying infections. A fungus is a primitive organism that can live in the air, soil, water, plants, and even in the human body. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise, because the fact that you are here means you have already noticed how some fungi can infect the body. It’s not a pleasant experience, although they are not life-threatening. Still, fungal infections are one of the hardest infections to get rid of. The little organism survives easily in many environments and can re-infect the body.
You might cringe when just thinking of having a fungal infection because it might feel icky. The reality, however, is that many types of fungi live on the skin all the time, even though you can't see them.
There are many different types of fungal infections and most commonly they happen in the lungs or the skin. What is more, not every type of fungus is bad. Inside our body, there are helpful fungi and harmful fungi. So, in order to know what are you dealing with, whether it’s normal, or how to get rid of it, you need to be familiar with the different types of fungal infections, their causes, symptoms, and how to treat fungus on the skin effectively - for good!
Fungal spores are everywhere - often in the air or in the soil, which means one can easily inhale them or land on them. This is the reason why they first appear in the lungs or more commonly on the person’s skin. Let’s break down the ones that appear on the skin.
This is a common condition that affects normal skin pigmentation. The result may be small, discolored patches, lighter or darker than the surrounding skin. The trunk and shoulders are the areas most at risk, and the condition occurs most frequently in teens and young adults.
It can be caused by oily skin, humid, warm weather, sweaty clothes, hormones, or a weak immune system.
Symptoms include patches of skin discoloration, usually on the back, chest, neck and upper arms, itching, and scaling. The condition is not painful or contagious, but because it’s visible it can lead to stress, self-consciousness, and other psychological problems. Over-the-counter antifungal creams, lotions or shampoos can help treat tinea versicolor successfully. But even then, skin color may remain uneven for several weeks or months. Be patient, and avoid wearing tight and sweaty clothes. Let the skin breathe.
Tinea cruris or jock itch is another common fungal infection of the skin. It belongs to the tinea family - the same group as the tinea versicolor, the athlete’s foot, and ringworms. And, just as the other conditions in this group, jock itch is typically harmless, but it can spread really quickly and be quite unpleasant. It’s caused by mold-like fungi, known as dermatophytes, that live on the skin and thrive in warm, moist areas.
It usually develops on the skin around the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks, and it affects men more often. Sweaty clothes are typically what makes this fungus thrive and develop symptoms. Have in mind that jock itch is highly contagious, and you may get it through close personal contact with an infected person or through contact with the unwashed clothing of an infected person. Obesity is also a contributing factor since the folds of skin are more prone to sweating.
Symptoms include redness, itching, burning sensation, cracking skin, or a rash that gets worse with physical activity. The good news is, it’s very easy to treat - simply apply any topical, over-the-counter, antifungal product and keep the affected area clean and dry. You should feel relief, and notice symptom withdrawal really quickly.
Athlete's foot or tinea pedis is a fungal infection that happens between the toes or on the foot. Belonging in the same family, athlete's foot is closely related to other fungal infections such as ringworm and jock itch. The symptom of tinea pedis is a scaly, red rash between the toes. Itching may occur while taking off the shoes or socks. Be careful, since this condition is highly contagious and it can spread to your hands if you scratch or touch the infected areas. Athlete's foot is caused by wearing damp socks and shoes for a long time, warm, humid conditions, sharing towels, shoes, or any other close contact with an infected person. Over-the-counter topical solutions are available, as well as prescribed medications since the condition is known to recur.
Tinea corporis is a superficial fungal infection (dermatophytosis) of the arms and legs commonly but can occur on other parts of the body as well. True to its name - a ringworm infection looks like an enlarged, raised, red ring, with a central area of clearing. It’s caused by a small fungus known as dermatophyte, which lives on the skin’s surface and can provoke a rash or an infection when the opportunity is right. Close contact with an infected person or an animal can transfer the infection. Touching the belongings of the infected person or animal can also spread the fungus. A weakened immune system and excessive sweating are additional risk factors.
Most cases can be successfully treated with over-the-counter, topical, antifungal creams to the skin, but in complicated or difficult to treat cases, systemic treatment with oral medication may be required. Topical antifungals are applied to affected areas twice a day for at least 3 weeks. You should expect results after two weeks of treatment but should continue to treat the area for at least a week after that to make sure that the fungus is completely gone.
Other common types of ringworm fungal infections are ringworm of the beard (Tinea Barbae) and ringworm of the scalp (Tinea Capitis), which are infections of the hair.
Tinea unguium is a fungal infection that affects the nails. It’s so common that some surveys reveal a prevalence of 10% among the adult population, more often found in males than females. Symptoms include white or yellow thickened nails and separation of the nail from the nail bed. Even though the infection occurs in both toenails and fingernails, toenails are more likely to be affected. Having other types of fungal infections can cause this condition. It’s most closely associated with athlete’s foot. Other things that can cause tinea unguium include having close contact with someone who is infected, a poor immune system, or peripheral vascular disease. There are over-the-counter topical solutions, as well as nail polishes that are advertised to do the trick. Still, the most effective treatment is antifungal medication, taken by mouth, but some researches have associated it with liver disease.
Many different types of fungi (yeasts or molds) that live in the environment can be the trigger for a fungal infection of the skin. For example, small cracks in your nail or the surrounding skin can allow the germs to enter your nail and cause it to become infected.
Some lifestyle choices may contribute to your recurring fungus on the skin. For instance, runners may get athlete’s foot quite more often as they tend to spend a lot of time in their running shoes, sweating. We mentioned that fungi often grow in warm, moist environments, and wearing sweaty clothes can increase your risk of developing a fungal infection on the skin.
Most fungal skin infections can be treated with non-prescription antifungal creams, lotions, or powders. The typical time period for application is 2 to 4 weeks before the infection completely disappears. If you have a non-prescription cream, lotion, or powder, follow the directions on the package label, and make sure you contact your healthcare provider if your infection doesn’t go away or gets worse. Some famous non-prescription products that are available are clotrimazole, miconazole, terbinafine, and ketoconazole.
Fungal nail infections, unfortunately, can be a lot more difficult to cure. They typically don’t go away without antifungal treatment, which is why you should ask for medical help and prescription antifungal pills taken by mouth. This infection can be really annoying, as it can take several months to a year to go away.
Why spend a lot of money on treatments that might just make things worse? This is why I love home remedies - they are safe, natural, filled with vitamins and antioxidants with antibacterial and antifungal properties, necessary for healthy skin. They are the bomb! You can use them to get everything - from clean and clear skin, to get rid of oily skin, and even butt acne. Yap, everything we need is in our nature, and today here are the home remedies that can help you treat fungus on the skin.
Your best friend is garlic, and I can’t stress this enough! Eat it, crush it and rub it on the skin, or mix it with other potent natural ingredients and leave it on the skin. Either way, it has the power to destroy that skin fungus right away. Most importantly, it does not kill beneficial bacteria in the gut. Garlic can be too strong to apply directly on the skin and to use it topically you can crush two garlic cloves, add a few drops of olive oil, and make a paste. Apply the paste on the affected areas and leave it on for 30 minutes. Then wash the area with lukewarm water and pat dry the skin thoroughly. You can use this treatment twice a day until you get rid of the infection.
Apple Cider Vinegar will kill the fungus on the skin surface, speed up the recovery process and prevent spreading the infection. You can either drink or apply apple cider vinegar topically - or maybe both! Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to one cup of warm water and drink it twice a day. To use it topically, dilute apple cider vinegar with an equal amount of water, and then apply it on the affected skin. Leave it on for 30 minutes, and then dry it off with a towel.
Turmeric is a highly anti-inflammatory ingredient. It also contains curcumin, which has antimicrobial properties. As with the other ingredients, you can add turmeric in your daily meals to get the best results. In addition to this, use it as a topical treatment by mixing it with coconut oil. Make a smooth paste and apply on the skin. Leave it for 30 minutes to act, and then rinse it off with warm water. Have in mind, that turmeric can make your skin appear yellowish, but don’t worry, that will fade away in a few days.
The fatty acids in the coconut oil help with the infection by damaging the cell membranes of the fungus. This is why is used in some products that treat skin infections. As a natural remedy, apply coconut oil directly on the affected area, three to four times a day. It’s an amazing moisturizer, which is why it’s best to continue to use it even after the infection is gone.
Tea tree oil has some powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties. It's a commonly used product for treating fungus on the skin. It detoxifies the infected area and reduces inflammation. You can use it directly on the skin, or if you have sensitive skin it best to mix it with coconut oil and apply on affected areas three times a day.
Another potent oil in the treatment of skin fungus is the oregano oil, which is made from wild oregano. Most of the oregano oil on the markets is made from common oregano (Origanum marjoram), so make sure you get wild oregano (Origanum Vulgare) oil. It contains thymol and carvacrol, ingredients that can stop the growth of fungus. For best results, mix it with coconut oil or water to dilute it and apply on affected areas. Let it act on the skin for at least 30 minutes before washing it off with warm water. You can use it as much as three to four times a day.
Knowing what to do to protect yourself is really important since recurrent episodes of the infection are very common. We mentioned that a fungal infection can be easily triggered by a normal type of fungus that lives on the skin, and can become aggressive at any time.
It’s a good idea to use topical antifungals once or twice a month as a preventive measure to keep the fungal infection from coming back. Additionally, if you experience fungal infections really often, it may be time to start using stronger cleansers on a regular basis - especially if you live in warm and humid areas. Warmer places mean more sun exposure, which is also something you should avoid. The sun can make the infection worse, and the rash more visible. Protect yourself properly by using a quality sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 30. But, be careful! Make sure you choose a non-greasy formula. Oily products don’t go well with fungal infections. This is also a tip to have in mind with other skin products that you might be using. Don’ wear tight clothing that might irritate the skin and make you sweat even more.
Don’t wait too long before you ask for medical help. Most fungal infections can be treated really easily when they are diagnosed on time. And most important of all - boost your immune system! You can’t really control everything you get in contact with on a daily basis, but you can control how ready your body is to fight off most of the particles in the environment that can potentially cause damage.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises that you: