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Fungal Infection and Yeast Infections

Information About Yeast and Fungal Infection of the Skin and Nails

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Updated May 22, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Most people cringe at the thought of having a fungal or yeast infection. The reality, however, is that we all have many types of fungi that live on our skin all the time. Most of the time these fungi don't cause any problems, but sometimes a fungus will change and cause an infection. These are some of the more common fungal and yeast infections people experience.

Tinea Versicolor

Tinea versicolor is also known as pityriasis versicolor. It is a fungal infection of the top layer of the skin, the epidermis. The yeast responsible for this rash loves oil glands, so teenagers and young adults tend to get tinea versicolor more often than older people.

There is a treatment, but the infection often comes back. Fortunately, this infection doesn't cause any pain or itching.

Jock Itch

Jock itch, also known as tinea cruris, is a fungal infection of the skin in the groin. Fungi flourish in a warm, moist environment -- and that certainly describes the groin.

Jock itch can be very itchy but it usually responds well to over-the-counter fungal infection creams. Preventing jock itch involves keeping the groin as dry as possible and sometimes using an antifungal powder every day.

Athlete's Foot

Athlete's foot, or tinea pedis, is a common fungal infection of the feet. There are different types of athlete's foot infections, but the most common one occurs in between the toes. This infection causes intense itching and breaks down the skin so it often looks like white goo between the toes.

Athlete's foot is typically treated with creams or lotions but sometimes a bad case will require an oral antifungal medication.

Ringworm

Ringworm, also known as tinea corporis, is a common fungal infection of the skin of the body. There are several fungi that can cause ringworm and they live in the epidermis.

Ringworm causes more symptoms than tinea versicolor, like itching and a noticeable rash, and it's treated pretty easily with a topical antifungal medication.

Ringworm of the Scalp

Ringworm of the scalp, or tinea capitis, is a more intensive fungal infection than ringworm on the skin. The fungi that cause this ringworm not only invade the skin of the scalp but also the hair follicle. It can cause the involved hair to fall out leaving a bald spot with a ringworm-type rash in the center.

Tinea capitis does not respond well to topical creams. It has to be treated with oral antifungal medications.

Ringworm of the Beard

Ringworm of the beard, or tinea barbae, is similar to ringworm of the scalp in that the fungus infects the skin and the hair follicle. The most common type of tinea barbae is an infection deep in the skin that causes very red nodules on the face with pus that drains and tunnels through the skin to other areas close to the nodules. A less common type is a mild infection on the surface of the skin.

This infection has to be treated with oral antifungal medications. Creams or lotions are not effective.

Fungal Nails

A fungal nail infection, or onychomycosis, is caused by a fungal infection in the part of the toe that makes the nail. As the nail grows out, it becomes brittle, thickens, and separates from the nail bed.

Fungal nail infections have to be treated with oral antifungal medications. Creams and lotions don't help.

Intertrigo

Intertrigo is a yeast infection in skin folds. Because this yeast grows easily in warm, moist areas, any place on the body where skin touches skin is susceptible. Intertrigo most commonly occurs in the armpits, groin, and under heavy breasts or fat folds.

Thrush

Thrush is a yeast infection inside the mouth. It is common in babies because their immune systems are still developing. It can also occur if someone takes antibiotics or uses an inhaled corticosteroid without rinsing their mouth afterwards.

Thrush is easily treated with antifungal medicine in the mouth.

Id Reaction

An id reaction isn't exactly a fungal infection. It's actually a rash on another part of the body in response to a fungal infection somewhere else on the body. An id reaction is very itchy and often causes blisters on the skin.

This rash goes away after the fungal infection has been treated.

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