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Fungal Skin Infections Part 1

20 June 2013 1 comment

Dear Itch, Please Leave Me Alone. Painfully Yours, Chronic Scratcher - Part 1

itchWe, the people have been there. We have experienced it. That feeling you get when you suddenly want to reach out and scratch that malingering itch. Did you? Most of us certainly did. What most of us are not aware of is that the itch may actually be a symptom of a fungal infection. Fungi are ubiquitous microorganisms that feed by getting their nutrients from the immediate surroundings. They have their own group which lies somewhere between plants and animals. A fungus can be both beneficial and harmful to humans. Fungal skin infections are fungi which can cause disturbance on the skin, hair and nails. There are generally two groups of fungi which infect the skin namely: yeasts (which cause Candidiasis, thrush, intertrigo, diaper rash, etc.) and dermatophytes (which cause tinea). Both groups of fungi can start out as an itch. itch10This article is about dermatophytes. There are three famous fungi that belong under dermatophytes, and can be transferred from people, animals and soil. They are Trichophyton, Microsporum and Epidermophyton. Never mind the complex sounding names, let's just call them, Larry, Curley and Moe for simplicity. Larry, Curley and Moe like to infect the skin and cause some problems. When they do, the resulting skin infection is called tinea. They can infect almost any skin on your body. The infection is named according to the body part affected. itch11Tinea capitis (head). When Larry, Curley and Moe infect your head, they usually prefer the scalp. Your scalp may show a scaly, red rash. Of course, let's not forget that it's itchy, very itchy. If you know how Larry from the Three Stooges looks like (he's bald on the top and hair on the temples), you can remember that these fungi can cause baldness, but only in spots. You don't have to cut your hair or totally go Bruce Willis style (seriously). It is possible that you can provide a humble abode for these guys and not feel anything. This makes you a carrier who can infect others through close contact. To stop the infection, get rid of hair products like combs or hair pins which can harbor these nasty fugitives. Tinea corporis (body). This type of fungal skin infection occurs on a body part other than the ones mentioned here. The affected body part has an itchy oval or circular patch of skin. The skin may be scaly with the center having the same color as the surrounding skin. The edges of the lesion are raised and red in color. This type of infection is sometimes called ringworm due to the worm-like appearance of the rash arranged in a circular configuration. The name ringworm can be confusing for you because you might think that it's an actual worm on your skin - but it’s not - (sigh of relief). Tinea cruris (groin). This fungal skin infection is also called jock itch. It starts in the creases where your thighs rub your body. If you leave this untreated, it can also propagate and invade your buttocks and anus. Heavy sweating further worsens the condition. This fungal infection more often than not originates from your feet. 119512074Tinea pedis (foot). Athlete's foot is the other name given to this fungal skin infection. This is perhaps the most painful and itchy location for Larry, Curley and Moe to set up camp. The skin between your toes is red, tender, cracked, scaly and terribly itchy. Simultaneous infection of the hands, groin and nails usually happen. To speed up the process of healing, wear open shoes and let your feet breathe. Try an antifungal foot powder to prevent recurrence. Other specific areas of the body which can hide the three are the nails ( tinea unguium), hands (tinea manuum), face (tinea faciei) and beard (tinea barbae). moe

How to Keep Larry, Curley and Moe Away

Here are some guidelines on how you can keep these critters away from your body.
  • 1. Use your own equipment and clothing.
  • 2. As much as you can, please don't go barefoot especially in public areas. The soles on your feet may be thick or even calloused, but the areas right above it are generally not that thick.
  • 3. Don't let sweat settle on your skin. As soon as you can, try to wash immediately after your activity.
  • 4. Please, change your socks and underwear. No using side A and then side B of your underwear, this is truly serious.
  • 5. Before putting on any piece of clothing, dry your body first. It doesn't matter whether you air dry or use a towel.
  • 6. Pay close attention to your pets. Any suspicious looking rash or bald spot on them can be a fungal infection. Your pets can be a reservoir for these critters.
  • 7. If you have athlete's foot, wear socks first before undies.
rel Try and remember that an itch which doesn't go away after you scratch it is not normal. Scratching isn't the solution. Consult your physician if the itch persists or if other symptoms of fungal skin infection manifests. Larry, Curley and Moe may not be deadly or debilitating, but they are certainly uncomfortable and can be quite embarrassing. You, the chronic scratcher, can't downright hate and blame Larry, Curley and Moe for causing you an itch. After all, you provided the situation for them to grow and pester you. Hey, don't hate the players, hate the game. Peace out. Click here to read part 2.

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