Fungal Infections

March 1, 2012

Five types of Skin Fungus

Five types of Skin Fungus

It’s not everyone’s favorite subject — and understandably so. For most people, developing an unsightly skin fungus may be pretty embarrassing. But such infections are actually very common. For instance, it’s estimated that at any one time in the United States, at least one in five people have athlete’s food, a particular type of skin fungus .

Still, for many, the sight of — or mere idea of — a fungus living in one’s skin is repulsive. But if you can distance yourself from the disgust, fungus is actually pretty fascinating. Once thought to be plants (mushrooms are still sorted among vegetables in the supermarket, after all), fungi’s distinct cell walls and lack of chlorophyll distinguish them today as their own kingdom consisting of at least 80,000 species.

Most of the types of fungus we’ll discuss are molds known as dermatophytes. These dermatophytes like to set up camp on skin because they feast on keratin, a strong, fibrous protein that makes up much of your skin (as well as nails and hair, where fungus can also thrive).

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that, besides keratin, fungus loves two things: warmth and moisture. This is why it so often holes up on sweaty feet. Skin fungus is contagious and can spread most commonly among people, but you can also get it from animals and clothes and fabrics (and even soil).

We’ll go through some of the common types of skin fungus and also look at signs of getting them and how to treat them.

1.) Tinea Pedis (Athlete’s Foot)

2.)  Candidiasis

3.)  Tinea Verisicolor

4.)  Tinea Corporis

5.) Tinean Cruris (Jock Itch)

Discovery Fit & Health

October 29, 2008

Jock Itch Tinea Cruris

Jock Itch Tinea Cruris

Jock itch, also known as tinea cruris, is a fungal infection of the skin in the groin. The warm, moist environment is the perfect place for the fungus to grow. Anything that enhances that environment puts the person at risk of getting jock itch. Therefore, wearing sweaty, wet clothing in the summer time or wearing several layers of clothing in the wintertime causes an increased incidence of jock itch. Men are affected more often than women.

The Jock Itch Fungus
The fungus that most commonly causes jock itch is called Trichophyton rubrum. It also causes fungal infections of the toes and body. Under the microscope, this fungus looks like translucent, branching, rod-shaped filaments or hyphae. The width of the hyphae is uniform throughout which helps distinguish it from hair, which tapers at the end.

Some hyphae appear to have bubbles within their walls, also distinguishing them from hair. Under most conditions these fungi inhabit only the dead skin cells of the epidermis.

Jock Itch Appearance
The rash of jock itch starts in the groin fold usually on both sides. If the rash advances, it usually advances down the inner thigh. The advancing edge is redder and more raised than areas that have been infected longer. The advancing edge is usually scaly and very easily distinguished or well demarcated. The skin within the border turns a reddish-brown and loses much of its scale. Jock itch caused by T. rubrum does not involve the scrotum or penis. If those areas are involved, the most likely agent is Candida albicans, the same type of yeast that causes vaginal yeast infections.

Rashes Similar to Jock Itch
There are other rashes of the groin that can cause symptoms similar to jock itch. The first is called
intertrigo which is a red, macerated rash at the groin fold not caused by a fungus. It is seen many times in obese patients and caused by moist skin rubbing against moist skin. The skin cracks and breaks down in lines called fissures, which can be very painful. These fissures can get secondarily infected with fungi or bacteria. The edge of the rash usually does not advance until much later in the life of the rash.

The other condition that mimics tinea cruris is called erythrasma. This is a bacterial infection that affects the groin and advances down the inner thigh similar to tinea cruris. However, the rash of erythrasma is flat and more brown than red throughout the affected area. It also does not have any scale or blisters.

Jock Itch Diagnosis
The best way to diagnose tinea cruris is to look for hyphae under the microscope, a
KOH test. The skin is scraped with a scalpel or glass slide causing dead skin cells to fall off onto a glass slide. A few drops of Potassium hydroxide (KOH) are added to the slide and the slide is heated for a short time. The KOH dissolves the material binding the skin cells together releasing the hyphae, but it does not distort the cell or the hyphae. Special stains such as Chlorazol Fungal Stain, Swartz Lamkins Fungal Stain, or Parker’s blue ink can be used to help visualize the hyphae better.

Jock Itch Treatment
Jock itch is best treated with topical creams or ointments since the fungus only affects the top layer of skin. Many of the antifungal medications require a prescription, but there are three that can be bought over-the-counter (OTC). The OTC antifungals are tolnaftate (Tinactin), clotrimazole (Lotrimin), and miconazole (Micatin). Creams used to treat jock itch should be applied twice a day for at least two weeks. Application can be stopped after the rash has been gone for one week. Creams should be applied to the rash and also at least two finger widths beyond the rash. Many people with jock itch also have athlete’s foot and these same creams can be applied to the feet. However, treatment of athlete’s foot can take up to four weeks. If the rash is very red and itchy, especially if it has blisters at the edge, a topical steroid such as hydrocortisone can be applied also. Steroids should not be used in the groin alone without consulting a health care provider since steroids alone can make the rash of jock itch much worse.

Jock Itch Prevention
To prevent jock itch from occurring or re-occurring, several measures may be taken.

  • Wear loose fitting clothing made of cotton or synthetic materials designed to wick moisture away from the surface.
  • Avoid sharing clothing and towels or washcloths.
  • Allow the groin to dry completely after showering before covering with clothes.
  • Antifungal powders or sprays may be used once a day to prevent infection.


Jock Itch

Game over! It was a hard-fought match, and you’ve just won in the final seconds. Now, as you bask in the afterglow of sweet victory, you think about all the great things you’re going to get from your sweaty efforts – admiring glances, bragging rights, a medal, a trophy, maybe even a mention in the local paper. But suddenly, your celebration is interrupted. Something’s not quite right. You’re feeling a little itchy and uncomfortable in a strange area due south. And it’s starting to burn. Yes, it’s something else you got for your athletic efforts, something you really didn’t expect and really didn’t want – jock itch.

What Is Jock Itch?
Jock itch is a pretty common fungal infection of the groin and upper thighs. It’s part of a group of fungal skin infections called tinea (pronounced: tih-nee-uh), and it’s related to athlete’s foot and ringworm (by the way, ringworm isn’t really a worm – it’s a fungus). The medical name for all of these types of fungal infections is a tinea infection, and the medical name for jock itch is tinea cruris (pronounced: tih-nee-uh krur-us).

Jock itch, like other tinea infections, is caused by several types of mold-like fungi called dermatophytes (pronounced: dur-mah-tuh-fites). All of us have microscopic fungi and bacteria living on our bodies, and dermatophytes are among them. Dermatophytes live on the dead tissues of your skin, hair, and nails and thrive in warm, moist areas like the insides of the thighs. So, when your groin area gets sweaty and isn’t dried properly, it provides a perfect environment for the fungi to multiply and thrive.

Who Gets Jock Itch?
You don’t have to be a jock to get an itch in your groin area. Jock itch is so named because mostly athletes or “jocks” get it, but it can affect anyone who tends to sweat a lot. It most often affects guys, but girls can get it, too. Certain factors can make jock itch more likely to develop, like lots of sweating while playing sports, hot and humid weather, friction from wearing tight clothes for extended periods (like bathing suits), sharing clothes with others, diabetes mellitus, or obesity.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
Jock itch is usually less severe than other tinea infections, but can it last for weeks or months without treatment. Symptoms of jock itch include:

  • a circular, red, raised rash with elevated edges
  • itching, chafing, or burning in the groin, thigh, or anal area
  • skin redness in the groin, thigh, or anal area
  • flaking, peeling, or cracking skin

How Do I Get Rid of It?
Jock itch usually responds to self-care, and using over-the-counter antifungal creams and sprays will probably clear it up, though prescription antifungal creams are sometimes required. Be sure to:

  • Wash, then dry the area using a clean towel.
  • Apply the antifungal cream, powder, or spray as directed on the label.
  • Change your clothes, especially your underwear, every day.

It’s important to continue this treatment for 2 weeks, even if symptoms disappear, to prevent the infection from recurring. If these steps don’t work, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. Sometimes, a doctor may need to prescribe a stronger antifungal cream, spray, or pill.

Can I Prevent Jock Itch?
Good hygiene is the most important thing that helps prevent jock itch. Keep the area as dry as possible by always using a clean towel after showering or swimming (also remember to avoid sharing towels). If you play sports and wear an athletic supporter, make sure you wash it as often as possible.

Jock itch is pretty common, but can be avoided through proper care and attention. Be sure to keep your groin area clean and dry, especially after strenuous and sweaty activity. If you do get jock itch, remember that it almost always goes away on its own.

Updated and reviewed by: Eliot N. Mostow, MD
Date reviewed: May 2004
Originally reviewed by:
Patrice Hyde, MD


Tinea Infections

Filed under: fungal infections — Tags: , , , — patoconnor @ 1:13 pm

Tinea Infections

If your kids are active, chances are that locker-room showers and heaps of sweaty clothing are part of their everyday lives. It’s important to take the proper precautions so that your child doesn’t develop fungal skin infections that can be itchy and uncomfortable.

Jock itch, athlete’s foot, and ringworm are all types of fungal skin infections known collectively as tinea. They are caused by fungi called dermatophytes that live on skin, hair, and nails and thrive in warm, moist areas.

Symptoms of these infections can vary depending on where they are on the body. The source of the fungus is usually the soil, an animal (usually a cat, dog, or rodent), or most often, another person. Minor trauma to the skin (for instance, scratches) and poor skin hygiene increase the potential for infection.

It’s important to learn some of the signs and symptoms of these infections so that you can get the proper treatment for your child. Many of these infections can be treated with over-the-counter medication, but some of them may require treatment from your child’s doctor.

Ringworm isn’t a worm, but a fungal infection of the scalp or skin that got its name from the ring or series of rings that it can produce. Ringworm may first appear on your child as a red, scaly patch or bump on the skin that becomes very itchy. It may cause your child to experience dandruff-like scaling and hair loss (with broken stubbles of hair).

Symptoms of Ringworm
Ringworm of the scalp may start as a small sore that resembles a pimple before becoming patchy, flaky, or scaly. These flakes may be confused with dandruff. It may cause some hair to fall out or break into stubbles. It can also cause the scalp to become swollen, tender, and red.

Sometimes, there may be a swollen, inflamed mass known as a kerion, which oozes fluid. These symptoms can be confused with impetigo or cellulitis. The distinctive features of ringworm are itching, redness on the skin, and a circular patchy lesion that spreads along its borders and clears at the center.

Ringworm of the nails may affect one or more nails on your child’s hands or feet. The nails may become thick, white or yellowish, and brittle.

If you suspect that your child has ringworm, you may want to call your child’s doctor.

Treating Ringworm
Ringworm is fairly easy to diagnose and treat. Most of the time, the doctor can diagnose it by looking at it or by scraping off a small sample of the flaky infected skin to test for the fungus. The doctor may recommend an antifungal ointment for ringworm of the skin or an oral medication for ringworm of the scalp and nails.

Preventing Ringworm
A child usually gets ringworm from another infected person, so it’s important to encourage your child to avoid sharing combs, brushes, pillows, and hats with others. 

Jock Itch
Jock itch, an infection of the groin and upper thighs, got its name because cases are commonly seen in active kids who sweat a lot while playing sports. But the fungus that causes the jock itch infection can thrive on the skin of any kids who spend time in hot and humid weather, wear tight clothing like bathing suits that cause friction, share towels and clothing, and don’t completely dry off their skin. It can last for weeks or months if it goes untreated.

Symptoms of Jock Itch
The symptoms of jock itch may include:

  • itching, chafing, or burning in the groin, thigh, or anal area
  • skin redness in the groin, thigh, or anal area
  • flaking, peeling, or cracking skin

Treating Jock Itch
Jock itch can usually be treated with over-the-counter antifungal creams and sprays. If you are using one of these substances, make sure that your child takes the following steps so that the treatment is as effective as possible:

  • Wash and then dry the area using a clean towel.
  • Apply the antifungal cream, powder, or spray as directed on the label.
  • Change clothing, especially the underwear, every day.
  • Continue this treatment for 2 weeks, even if symptoms disappear, to prevent the infection from recurring.

If the ointment or spray is not effective, you may want to call your child’s doctor, who can prescribe other treatment.

Preventing Jock Itch
Jock itch can be prevented by keeping the groin area clean and dry, particularly after showering, swimming, and performing sweaty activities.

Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s foot typically affects the soles of the feet, the areas between the toes, and sometimes the toenails. It can also spread to the palms of the hands, the groin, or the underarms if your child touches the affected foot and then touches another body part. The condition got its name because it affects people whose feet tend to be damp and sweaty, which is often the case with athletes.

Symptoms of Athlete’s Foot
The symptoms of athlete’s foot may include itching, burning, redness, and stinging on the soles of the feet. The skin may flake, peel, blister, or crack.

Treating Athlete’s Foot
A doctor can often diagnose athlete’s foot simply by examining your child’s foot or by taking a small scraping of the affected skin to detect the presence of the fungus that causes athlete’s foot.

Over-the-counter antifungal creams and sprays may effectively treat mild cases of athlete’s foot within a few weeks. Athlete’s foot can recur or be more serious. If that’s the case, you may want to call your child’s doctor who may prescribe a stronger treatment.

Preventing Athlete’s Foot
Because the fungus that causes athlete’s foot thrives in warm, moist areas, infections can be prevented by keeping your child’s feet and the space between the toes clean and dry.

Athlete’s foot is contagious and can be spread in damp areas, such as public showers or pool areas, so you may want take some extra precautions with the feet. You may want to encourage your child to:

  • wear waterproof shoes or flip-flops in public showers, like those in locker rooms
  • alternate shoes or sneakers to prevent moisture buildup and fungus growth
  • avoid socks that trap moisture or make the feet sweat and instead choose cotton or wool socks or socks made of fabric that wicks away the moisture
  • choose sneakers that are well ventilated with small holes to keep the feet dry

By taking the proper precautions and teaching them to your child, you can prevent these uncomfortable skin infections from putting a crimp in your active child’s lifestyle.

Reviewed by: Patrice Hyde, MD
Date reviewed: May 2005



Tinea Infections

“Tinea” refers to a skin infection with a dermatophyte (ringworm) fungus.

Depending on which part of the body is affected, it is given a specific name.

Sometimes, the name gives a different meaning.

  • Tinea versicolor, also more accurately called Pityriasis versicolor, a common yeast infection on the trunk
  • Tinea incognito when the clinical appearance has changed because of inappropriate treatment
  • Tinea nigra affects the palms orsoles which appear brown (on white skin) or black (on dark skin)

DermNet NZ

Fungal Infections in Children

Filed under: fungal infections — Tags: , , , , , , — patoconnor @ 1:09 pm

Fungal Infections in Children

What do you think of when you hear the word fungus? Do you think of mushrooms? A mushroom is one type of fungus, but fungus also refers to a type of germ that lives on all of us.

This germ is harmless most of the time, but sometimes it can cause a problem called a fungal infection (say: fung-gul in-fek-shun). It sounds gross, but don’t worry or feel embarrassed. A lot of people get fungal infections, but they’re usually easy to treat becuase a fungus rarely spreads below the skin. If you get one of these infections, before you know it, you’ll be saying bye-bye to fungi (say: fung-guy).

What Is a Fungal Infection?
Fungi, the word for more than one fungus, can be found on different parts of the body. Here are some common types of fungal infections:

Tinea (say: tih-nee-uh) is a type of fungal infection of the hair, skin, or nails. When it’s on the skin, tinea usually begins as a small red area the size of a pea. As it grows, it spreads out in a circle or ring. Tinea is often called ringworm because it may look like tiny worms are under the skin (but of course, they’re not!). Because the fungi that cause tinea (ringworm) live on different parts of the body, they are named for the part of the body they infect. Scalp ringworm is found on the head, and body ringworm affects the arms, legs, or chest.

Athlete’s foot is another type of fungal infection that usually appears between the toes but can also affect toenails and the bottom or sides of the feet.

Jock itch is a fungal infection of the groin and upper thighs. You might think only men and boys get it, but girls and women can get it, too. 


(say: kan-duh-duh) is a yeast, similar to a fungus. It most often affects the skin around the nails or the soft, moist areas around body openings. Diaper rash in babies is one type of candidal infection, as is thrush (white patches often found in the mouths of babies.) Older girls and women may develop another form of candidal infection in and around the vagina. This is called a yeast infection.

Why Do Kids Get Fungal Infections?
Lots of kids get fungal infections. Kids love to share and hang out together. Some of these infections are  contagious (say: kon-tay-jus), which means they easily spread from person to person. Close contact or sharing a comb or hairbrush with someone who has tinea can spread the fungus from one person to another. Because fungi need a warm, dark, and humid place to grow, public showers, pools, locker rooms, and even the warmth of shoes and socks can give fungi the perfect opportunity to strike. 

Taking antibiotics can cause some kids to get a yeast infection. Antibiotics get rid of germs that make us sick, but they can also kill many of the harmless bacteria in our body. These harmless bacteria normally fight with the yeast for a place to live, but when antibiotics kill them, the yeast is free to grow.

Sometimes, a fungus may infect kids if they have an immune system disorder (this means their bodies can’t fight certain types of infections). This is rare, but it does happen.

How Do I Know If I Have a Fungal Infection?

There aredoctor. Here are some signs you and a parent can look for:

  • Athlete’s foot causes symptoms that include red, dry, cracked, and itchy skin between the toes. Some people also have red, scaly bumps filled with pus on the bottoms and sides of their feet.
  • Jock itch appears as a rash with elevated edges. It’s itchy and often feels like it is burning. It’s pretty common, especially if you play sports. Sweating and wearing athletic equipment can bring on this kind of rash. 
  • Ringworm of the head begins as a small pimple or scaly patch that looks like dandruff. The pimple or patch becomes larger and the hair in the infected area can become brittle and break off. This can create scaly patches of baldness, but the hair will grow back. If you have ringworm on your arms, legs, or chest, you may see small, red spots that grow into large rings.
  • Candida, the yeast, causes the skin around the infected area to itch. The skin may also be red and swollen.

Farewell to Fungus!
Getting rid of a fungal infection is not that difficult. Your doctor may decide to scrape a small amount of the irritated skin or clip off a piece of hair or nail and look at it under a microscope. Once your doctor knows what kind of infection you have, there are special antifungal creams and shampoos that can help to get rid of it. Sometimes the doctor will prescribe a
medicine to take. Make sure you take the medicine for as long as the doctor tells you.

Maybe fungal infections can’t be avoided altogether, but there are some ways you can help yourself ward them off.

Walk away from athlete’s foot by:

  • Washing your feet every day.
  • Drying your feet completely, especially between your toes.
  • Wearing sandals or shower shoes when walking around in locker rooms, public pools, and public showers.
  • Wearing clean socks. If they get wet or damp, be sure to change them as soon as you can.
  • Using a medicated powder on your feet to help reduce perspiration. (Ask a parent first.)

You can ditch jock itch by: 

  • Wearing clean, cotton underwear and loose-fitting pants.
  • Keeping your groin area clean and dry.

Prevent beastly yeast infections by:

  • Changing out of wet swimsuits instead of lounging around in them. 
  • Wearing clean, cotton underpants.

There may always be a “fungus among us,” but we can make it a lot tougher for them to invade and grow!

Reviewed by: Patrice Hyde, MD
Date reviewed: May 2004

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