How Do Fungal Infections Spread? Factors Affecting Patients
Fungal infections can be spread through direct contact with a contaminated animal or human. They can also be picked up from the floor. Using shared showers or bathrooms, or using a towel used by a person with a fungal infection can cause it to spread.
What Is Fungal Infection?
Types of fungal infections
Sometimes fungal infections are localised to specific parts of the body:
Also known as ringworm, tinea is an aggressive fungus that can take over parts of the body. It can infect the groin, feet, scalp and the skin below the breasts. These are parts of the body that get the hottest, and where perspiration can collect when you get very hot.
Contrary to its name, there is no worm, but the fungus can be spread through sharing contaminated items like towels, clothes or shoes. Tinea causes one of the most common podiatry foot conditions, athlete’s foot, which is believed to affect one in 20 Australians.
Yeasts are another type of fungus that can cause infections in different parts of the skin such as the groin, mouth, digestive system, armpits and under the breasts.
Scalp and beard
Fungal infection of the scalp or beard begins with a single pimple that may cause the hair on it to fall out. The patch can spread, causing the hair to become brittle and break off.
Fingernails and toenails
Fungal infections of the nails can cause thickening and yellowing of the nails. The nails can become brittle and break off easily.
A ring-shaped, flat lesion may appear on the skin, signalling the presence of a fungal infection. The skin may get itchy. The edges of the lesion may be red, dry or raised. The surface may be moist or develop a crust.
One of the more common podiatry foot conditions is athlete’s foot, caused by a fungus. The skin may appear cracked or scaly. It can cause the skin to crack, especially between the toes and it can be very itchy.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Tinea?
The signs of fungal infections from tinea may include
- A red scaly rash that is shaped like a ring
- Formation of blisters
- Nail discolouration (nails go white or yellow)
- Bald spots can develop on the scalp
- Cracking or splitting of the skin between the toes.
How To Prevent Fungal Infections?
Fungi live all around us, and having a fungal infection isn’t necessarily an indication of hygiene habits.
- Stay away from people who have active infections, until at least the day after they have started their treatment.
- Wash your pets with an antifungal wash
- If you are using shared showers in a public area, make sure you wear shoes in the shower, when you are getting changed and when you are walking around a public pool area
- Practice effective hand washing using a good antifungal soap
- Allow your towels, socks and shoes to air dry in the sun well after each use
- Make sure you dry your body well after showering and bathing so you do not trap moisture on your skin and create a breeding environment for fungi.
You are more at risk of developing a fungal infection if you
- Are a smoker
- Have recently taken a course of antibiotics
- Have high blood sugar levels
- Are overweight
- Have a weak immune system
How Is A Fungal Infection Diagnosed In A Patient?
If you suspect you have a fungal infection, including concerns about podiatry foot conditions, your general practitioner will ask about your symptoms before doing an examination. He or she may also take a sample of the affected area and send it to a laboratory for testing.
Fungal Infection Treatments
Most infections are treated with topical ointment, powder or cream that needs to be reapplied during the day. Some podiatry foot conditions can be treated with a convenient spray.
If the infection covers a very large part of your body you may need a stronger approach and be given a tablet to take.
You can expect to continue using the topical treatment for up to two weeks after the infection has cleared. It is quite common for a fungal infection to return after it has ostensibly healed, and the new rash may look identical to what has just cleared. Treatments for toenail infections may need to be taken for up to a year.
For a more personalised answer to ‘what is fungal infection’ or for a consultation with a professional please contact us (02) 9884 9300.