Fungal Infection

Fungal infections of the skin and its appendages are caused by microorganisms called fungi, and include mycosis of the skin, hair and nails (onychomycosis).

Dr. Konstantina Mamali
DERMATOLOGIST - VENEREOLOGIST
As the Dermatologist - Venereologist Dr. Konstantina Mamali explains, "Fungal infections are infections of the outer, usually, layers of the skin, while more rarely they affect internal organs, manifesting pneumonia, meningitis and other serious diseases. Depending on the fungus that has caused the infection, fungal skin infections can be divided into dermatophytes, candidiasis, downy mildew and uncommon fungal infections caused by rare species of fungi”.
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Fungal Infection

What are they?

Fungi, in general, are single-celled plant organisms and show enormous diversity. They are found everywhere, living both in soil, water and air, and many of them live naturally as parasites in the human body without causing any harmful disease.

However, conditions of high temperature and humidity create a favourable environment for fungal growth, leading to fungal infections. In particular, when a person's immune system is compromised, the occurrence of fungal infections is more frequent.

Onychomycosis mainly affects adults, although the number of cases of onychomycosis in childhood has increased considerably.

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Fungal Infection

Symptoms

Depending on the level of tissue they affect, fungal infections can be classified into superficial and cutaneous.
1

Superficial fungal infections

Limited to the outer layers of the skin and hair, but they can also affect the nails. They mainly affect the skin of young people and are most commonly found on the chest and back. The color of the spots that appear is usually brown. Factors that may cause the appearance of superficial mycoses are high humidity or hormonal abnormalities. Candidiasis belongs to this category. Candidiasis includes lenticular candidiasis, skin candidiasis and systemic candidiasis.
2

Skin or "deep" fungal infections

Cutaneous fungal infections extend deeper into the skin and often appear on the scalp or nails. Fungal infections in this category are caused exclusively by Dermatophytes. Symptoms of fungal infections appear 2 to 38 weeks after the person is infected and are located in various places such as the nails, skin, feet and genitals. Furthermore, they can also appear in the form of a new nevus. Usually, depending on the site of occurrence, they are ring-shaped, with a red or beige color on the inside of the ring and a reddish tint around the periphery.
Fungal Infection

Transmission

Fungi are primarily transmitted by skin contact. They can be transmitted from person to person, and also by using other people's personal belongings (e.g. towels, flip-flops). Transmission is very common in the summer, as the fungi can be transmitted by walking barefoot in the sand or pool area.
Fungal Infection

Causes

Several factors are responsible for the onset of mycosis, including the following:

  • Frequent use of broad-spectrum antibiotics
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Use of cortisone
  • Poor hygiene
  • Pregnancy
  • High fever
  • Taking antibiotics
  • Weakened immune system
Fungal Infection

Clinical Pictures

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Onychomycosis

Characterized by thickening of the nails (subungual hyperkeratosis), fragility and change of color of the nail.

Candida Nail Infection

Particularly common in people who have a habit of wetting their limbs. Affects the skin surrounding the nails (paronychia) and appears as a yellow tinge on the side of the onychium and may lead to onycholysis. Onychomycosis can be very easily observed due to a change in the appearance of the nails in either color or thickness. Although it is not dangerous, it takes a long time to be cured with pharmaceutical methods. A favorable environment for onychomycosis is humidity, as well as swimming pools. Often, it is the result of diabetes.

Tinea Capitis

Varies from mild scaling to one or more exfoliating or highly inflammatory purulent lesions. It occurs most often during pre-puberty and is characterized by intense itching in the area. Due to the intense itching and scratching, the affected areas become contaminated by bacteria, resulting in eczema-like lesions or bleeding. It is quite common during childhood because the fungal that cause scalp dermatophyte are often detected in nurseries and schools.

Genital Dermatophytosis

Affects the beard of men. It may appear in the form of scaly red plaques, follicular purulent lesions or may have an atypical form.

Ringworm – Tinea Corporis

Located on the trunk, upper and lower limbs. It is characterized by the appearance of red, scaly plaques that are usually round in shape. These plaques tend to expand peripherally with healing in the centre.

Jock itch – Tinea Cruris

It is a dermatophyte fungal infection of the thigh-groin region and the buttocks. It occurs as a well-demarcated red patch, originally located unilaterally, which then extends bilaterally.

Fungal infection on hands & feet – Tinea Manuum & Tinea Pedis

It is distinguished into the hyperkeratotic and dyskidrotic types. The first type is characterized by the presence of multiple small hyperkeratotic bubbles which rupture and lead to the appearance of erythrocyte plaque. The second type is characterized by the appearance of multiple scattered bubbles or pamphlets. Dermatophytosis of this category usually affects the interdigital spaces, but in chronic conditions it may extend to the entire arm or leg. Initially, itching and redness are observed in the interdigital spaces, followed by white erosions. This category includes 'athlete's foot', which is the most common fungal infection occurring on the feet.

Vaginal Mycosis

A very common form of mycosis is vaginal mycosis and is caused by disturbance of the flora of the vagina. Fungi are naturally present in the vagina without causing symptoms. Sometimes, however, the conditions of the vagina change causing local inflammation. Fungal infections of the vagina plague many women and their occurrence is more common during the summer. Some indicative symptoms of vaginal mycosis include the appearance of thick, white-colored fluids, usually accompanied by itching, burning and irritation. Although more commonly seen in the female population, genital mycosis also affects men, but with a lower incidence.
In genital mycosis the symptoms appear on the genitals. In men, they are mainly seen under the penis or at the tip of the penis, while in women they are mainly seen as discharge.
When the symptoms of mycosis appear on the legs, they make walking difficult and often cause a bad smell.

Fungal Infection

Treatment

The treatment of fungal infections should be carried out by a dermatologist, who is the most expert for the correct diagnosis and choice of treatment.

Early diagnosis of fungal infections contributes to their timely and effective treatment and includes the following stages:

  • Collection of a sample from the area where the fungal infection occurs
  • Microscopic examination of the fungus
  • Culture and isolation of the fungus
  • Identification of the fungus
Fungal Infection

FAQ

What are fungi?

Fungi, in general, are single-celled plant organisms that show huge diversity. They are found everywhere, living both in soil, water and air, and many of them live naturally as parasites in the human body without causing any harmful disease. However, conditions of high temperature and humidity create a favorable environment for fungal growth, leading to fungal infections. In particular, when a person's immune system is compromised, the occurrence of fungal infections is more frequent. Onychomycosis mainly affects adults, although the number of cases of onychomycosis in childhood has increased considerably.

How are fungal infections caused in humans?

Fungal infections in humans can be caused by any fungus that penetrates the skin and mucous membranes and invades the tissues, causing superficial, subcutaneous or systemic disease. The most common genera of fungi responsible for most fungal infections are Microsporum, Trichophyton and Epidermophyton.

As a disease, mycosis does not threaten our general health, but if neglected, it can cause severe damage and can be combined with generalisation of mycosis to other areas of the body. This is not surprising, considering that up to 30 different species of fungi live in the most susceptible areas such as the armpits and hands. Furthermore, fungal infections can be accompanied by pain, tenderness when pressure is applied to the area and, especially in the case of onychomycosis, can cause thickening and detachment of the nail, leading to serious problems in the patient's psychology, social life and work.

How can I protect myself from fungal infection?

To prevent fungal infection, it is important to maintain good physical hygiene. At the same time, the use of other people's personal belongings (e.g. towels, flip-flops), the use of tight underwear and clothing by women, and staying for a long time in a wet swimsuit should be avoided.

Why should I choose Cosmetic Derma Medicine for the treatment of fungal infections?

Cosmetic Derma Medicine Medical Group is the largest and most specialized medical group in the field of Dermatology and Plastic Surgery, with 14 clinics in Greece and Cyprus.

The Medical Director of Cosmetic Derma Medicine is Dermatologist - Venereologist Dr. Amalia Tsiatoura, while the staff consists of a medical team of highly experienced and specialized doctors of many different specialties, as well as a fully qualified team of nurses. Our team is at your side every day, 24/7 for whatever you need.

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