Healthy Living

Are All Fungal Skin Infections Contagious?

Are All Fungal Skin Infections Contagious?

Key Takeaways

  • The most common areas of the human body that are susceptible to fungal attacks are found in between the toes, in the genital area, and under the breasts.
  • An important factor to prevent the fungus from attacking repeatedly is to maintain good hygiene levels.
  • Fungal medications are available in various generic names such as econazole, miconazole, terbinafine, fluconazole, and ketoconazole. 

Fungi are known to thrive in the human body, making their homes in moist areas where skin surfaces meet. The most common areas of the human body that are susceptible to fungal attacks are found in between the toes, in the genital area, and under the breasts. Most fungal skin infections are triggered by yeasts such as Candida or Tinea. Most fungi live on the upper surface of the skin or the epidermis and cannot penetrate into the skin. People who are overweight or suffering from obesity are most susceptible to fungal skin infections as they have numerous skin folds. Fungal skin infections are also commonly seen in people suffering from diabetes, which is a disease characterized by high blood sugar levels.

Fungal infections affecting a certain part of the body can also lead to the appearance of rashes. These rashes are allergic reactions from the fungi and may not be as a result of touching the infected areas. Fungal infections are largely characterized by a red, irritated, or scaly rash in the commonly affected areas. Hence, a diagnosis based on its appearance can be easily made by the medical practitioner. In cases when a detailed diagnosis needs to be performed to confirm the type of fungi, the diagnosis is carried out by scraping a small amount of the inflamed skin for a culture examination.

What are the most common fungal skin infections?

Some of the most commonly found fungal skin infections include:

  • Athlete's Footthis medical condition is also known as Tinea pedis. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection affecting the foot region of the body. It may result in peeling of the skin, redness, itching, burning sensation, and sometimes, blisters and sores. Athlete’s foot is a common occurrence during summer and in regions with high humidity. The fungus that causes athlete’s foot thrives best in warm and moist environments like shoes, socks, pools, and shower floorings. People wearing tight shoes as well as using common bathrooms and pools are most susceptible to catching this infection.
  • Jock Itch - is medically known as Tinea cruris. It is another form of fungal skin infection that is caused by the fungi called Tinea. This form of fungal infection largely affects the genitals, inner thighs, and buttocks. Since this fungus thrives in warm and moist environments, this infection is common in the summer season and wet climates. The appearance of this infection is characterized by the formation of a red itchy rash that is often in the shape of a ring. A jock itch infection is mildly contagious and spreads to a certain extent by either direct contact or through objects carrying the fungi.
  • Ringworm - ringworm in medical terminology is known as Tinea corporis. It is again a fungal infection affecting the skin and can affect any part of the body. In appearance, it looks like a flat, circular sore that is red in color. It is also accompanied by scaly and itchy skin in most cases. Usually, a ringworm infection is not a very serious condition. However, it is contagious in nature and can spread by direct contact with the infected human or animal. This infection can also spread through clothing or objects like furniture. Fungi can grow and spread in humid environments.
  • Yeast infections - yeast attacking the skin are known as cutaneous candidiasis. Its primary cause is attributed to the yeast-like fungi known as Candida. Infection can occur when the yeast grows actively on the skin surface leading to a red rash that is extremely itchy and scaly. Yeast infections can affect any skin surfaces and grow under warm and moist conditions. However, they are not contagious. People suffering from obesity, diabetes, and those on antibiotics are at high risk of acquiring this infection. Candida can also cause a diaper rash in infants as well as a result of nail-related infections. Candida is also known to cause vaginal infections. 

Types of Antifungal Medications

Antifungal medicines are available in various forms. Each of these medications is prescribed based on the diagnosis of the infection and its severity. The primary types of antifungal medicines are:

  • Topical antifungal - this kind of medicine can be directly applied to the affected part of the body, namely, skin, hair, or nails.
  • Oral antifungal – this antifungal medication is available in the form of a capsule, pill, or liquid.  Oral antifungals need to be consumed as per the prescribed dosage of your doctor.
  • Intravenous antifungal – this form of antifungal medication is injected into the bloodstream of the patient. Normally, it is administered in hospitals or other healthcare facilities.
  • Intravaginal antifungal pessaries – are recommended to treat vaginal fungal infections such as vaginal thrush. These medications are available as small, soft suppositories that are inserted into the vagina that will dissolve almost immediately after insertion.

Fungal medications are available in various generic names such as econazole, miconazole, terbinafine, fluconazole, and ketoconazole. Depending on the type of fungus and the intensity of the infection, the doctor generally prescribes what will best suit the patient to help speed up his or her recovery.

Effective Alternative Remedies for Fungal Skin Infections

An important factor to prevent the fungus from attacking repeatedly is to maintain good hygiene levels. Using an antibacterial soap, changing clothes after a game or run, wiping the body dry after a shower, and applying antifungal powders are basic habits that go a long way in keeping fungal skin infections at bay. Apart from the medications, there are a few simple natural remedies that have their proven efficacy in treating fungal infections. They are:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar - ACV is an excellent remedy for a number of health issues. It is especially beneficial in treating fungal skin infections like ringworm. Apple cider vinegar is rich in antiseptic properties and is a deep cleanser. When applied, it works by killing the fungi, thereby, preventing the chances of recurrent infections. To use apple cider vinegar, the affected area must be cleaned thoroughly with an antiseptic soap. After drying and cleansing the area, apply the apple cider vinegar with a cotton ball. Doing this remedy can better the symptoms in no time.
  • Tea Tree Oil - tea tree oil is a natural essential oil that also has natural antiseptic properties. Tea tree oil ointments are available and are known to provide immediate relief from skin infections. However, before application, the affected area must be cleaned thoroughly.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide - is considered as an effective home remedy for disinfecting cuts and bruises. It also has proven its efficacy in cleaning up fungal infections that are found on the skin. A solution made up of hydrogen peroxide and water should be applied to the infection using a cotton ball. For those seeking relief from athlete’s foot, they can soak their feet in a mix of hydrogen peroxide and water to kill the fungus completely.

Preventing Fungal Infections

Some of the easiest ways of preventing fungal infections are:

  • Maintaining a healthy hygiene.
  • Using a sanitizer to keep hands disinfected and free from germs.
  • Wearing loose clothes.
  • Wearing shoes when outdoors to prevent contact from outside germs.
  • Frequently changing, disinfecting, and washing of towels as well as clothes such as socks and undergarments.