Published on June 5, 2024 at 8:00 / Updated on June 21, 2024 at 8:00

(mycosis, athlete's foot)

Fungi are organisms that are primarily found in hot and damp environments (e.g., bathtubs, showers, locker rooms). There are two types of fungi: yeasts and moulds. Generally speaking, fungi do not cause problems. Several fungi are naturally present on the body.

However, in certain situations, a fungus can develop to the point where it causes an infection. The type of infection will vary depending on where it is on the body and the type of fungus behind it. The most common fungal infections include athlete's foot (between the toes or on the soles of the feet), vaginitis (in the vagina or on the vulva), and thrush (in the mouth).

Since fungi thrive in moist places, they are usually found in the folds of the skin, in areas such as the following:

  • Between the toes
  • Under the breasts
  • In the genitals
  • Under the arms

These are the main symptoms of a fungal infection:

  • Redness or irritation
  • Itching or pain
  • Cracked or extremely dry skin
  • Lesions in the form of small blisters on the skin

If you have vaginitis, you may experience a burning sensation when urinating or notice a whitish vaginal discharge.

Causes and triggers

Fungal infections can be caused by different types of fungus. Contamination usually occurs through contact with a surface contaminated by a fungus. You can also contract an infection through direct contact with an infected person.

Factors that increase your risk of getting a fungal infection include the following:

  • You have diabetes
  • You have a serious, extensive burn
  • You have a disease that weakens your immune system, such as cancer
  • You take certain medications, such as antibiotics
  • You suffer from stress or a lack of sleep

Treatment

Fungal infections are treated using drugs known as antifungal medications. Some infections can be treated with over-the-counter medications. Ask a health care professional for advice before using an over-the-counter medication to treat a fungal infection.

There are several things you can do to reduce your risk of getting a fungal infection, including the following:

  • Dry your body and feet thoroughly after taking a bath or going for a swim
  • Wear sandals in public locker rooms to avoid coming into contact with a fungus
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing or shoes to allow your sweat to evaporate
  • Get out of your wet bathing suit or wet clothes as soon as possible

When should I see a health care professional?

Consult a health care professional if you suspect that you have caught a fungal infection or you develop one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Red skin
  • Itching or pain
  • Cracked skin
  • Lesions in the form of small blisters on the skin
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Whitish vaginal discharge

You should also consult a health care professional if the infection persists or returns after you use an over-the-counter medication.

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