Fungal infections - what are they? - Burchell & Associates - Podiatry

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Fungal infections - what are they?


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What is athlete's foot?
It is a skin or nail infection most commonly caused by fungi that are called dermatophytes which are found on human skin as part of our natural fauna and in warm moist environments such as pools, showers and changing rooms. However, if conditions are right the dermatophytes multiply, "invade" the skin, and cause infection. Fungal infection is said to affect 70% of the population at some time and has a higher incidence in males and is less common in children.

Tinea Pedis.
Fungal infection on the sole of the foot.
The 3 common types of fungi that cause us problems are: Trichophyton Rubum, Trichophyton Interdigitale and Epidermophyton Floccosum and are also known as "ringworm" or "tinea". The location of the area infected gives the condition its name.
Tinea Pedis, (athlete's foot) - There are 3 main types associated with the foot, but the condition mainly occurs between the toes where it is dry with scaling or moist with peeling and fissuring.

Interdigital Tinea Pedis is the most common form and usually the first to develop. It occurs between the toes especially the 3rd & 4th and commonly spreads onto the top of the foot and under the toes. It can be red, dry, scaly and cracked or white and soggy. It can be itchy and give a burning or painful sensation and can cause a nasty smell. This is generally caused by all three types of fungi.

Moccasin Tinea Pedis presents as a mild redness with mild to profuse scaling and a powdery dryness which is worse in the folds of the skin and minute blisters around the margins of the infection. It can cover the sole of the foot and extend around the heel and side of the foot. It is named because the area is said to resemble a moccasin shoe. This is generally caused by Trichophyton Rubum.

Acute Vesicular Tinea Pedis is characterised by a rapid onset of fluid filled blisters over the top of arch area of the foot usually originating from the interdigital spaces and often involving a bacterial infection. It is made worse by breaking the blisters. This is generally caused by Trichophyton Interdigitale and Epidermophyton Floccosum.

Other areas that are affected by the fungi are: Tines Manuum, (hand), Tinea Cruris, (groin), Tinea Corporis, (body/trunk), Tinea Facialis, (face), Tinea Ungus or Onychomycosis, (nails). The nails often become yellowy, thick and crumbly.

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