What is skin fungus?

A fungus is a tiny organism, such as mold or mildew. Fungi are everywhere — in the air and water and on the human body. About half of fungi are harmful. If one of the harmful fungi lands on your skin, it can cause a fungal infection. You may develop a rash or feel itchy.

Who is at risk for developing a fungal rash?

Anyone can develop a fungal rash. Superficial infections of the skin and nails are cited as the most common form of infection, affecting up to 20-25% of the world’s population at any given time. For example, athlete’s foot often affects otherwise healthy people. You may have a higher risk for developing a skin rash if you:

  • Have a weakened immune system (for example, if you take immunosuppressant medications, have a disease that weakens the immune system or are undergoing chemotherapy).
  • Take long-term or high-dose antibiotics.
  • Have excess weight.
  • Have diabetes.
  • Try a new skin care product.
  • Experience incontinence (for example, babies getting diaper rashes).
  • Sweat heavily.
  • Are pregnant.

What does a fungal rash look like?

A fungal skin infection often looks bright red and can spread across a large area. A fungal skin rash may also have characteristics including:

  • Color more intense at the border.
  • Scale more intense at the border
  • Smaller, more defined lesions (pustules) at the edges of the rash area.

Where does a fungal rash appear?

The rash can appear anywhere on the body, including the nails. It’s more common in areas with skin folds, such as the groin, buttocks or thighs.

What are different types of skin rashes?

The medical name for a fungal skin infection is tinea. Types of fungal infections include:

  • Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis): The most common type of fungal infection, this condition often spreads when people walk barefoot in public bathrooms or locker rooms. The skin between your toes turns white and starts to peel. Athlete’s foot can also affect the soles (bottoms) of the feet.
  • Nail fungus (onychomycosis): This infection is a common foot problem. It usually affects the toenails, which become yellow and thick and break easily.
  • Jock itch (tinea cruris): A rash of the groin area, jock itch affects more men than women.
  • Scalp ringworm (tinea capitis): This rash occurs mostly in children. It causes hair loss, but with the right treatment, the hair usually grows back.
  • Ringworm (tinea corporis): This “catch-all” term is what healthcare providers call a rash that doesn’t fit into any other category. The rash often forms a ring shape.

What causes a fungal rash?

When your skin comes into contact with a harmful fungus, the infection can cause the rash to appear. For example, if you borrowed a pair of shoes from someone who had athlete’s foot, the fungus could come in contact with your foot and infect you. Rashes often pass from person to person or from animal to person by direct contact.

What are symptoms of a fungal rash?

A fungal rash is often red and itches or burns. You may have red, swollen bumps like pimples or scaly, flaky patches.

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