Fungal or mycotic infections may occur in many different areas of the body- on the feet or between the toes, in the groin, on the torso, hands, face or scalp. They are caused by many different types of fungi – a table of the varying groups and the conditions they cause is given below.
Fungi may spread from one area of the body to another and may originate from animals such as an infected cat or dog, (which will also need treatment if this is the case) and from contact with other people directly or indirectly. Tinea may be picked up from wet floors in public showers. People who perspire freely or have their hands frequently in water are more often affected, as fungi grow in moist, warm conditions.Inflamed or otherwise damaged skin is more easily infected.
Tinea capitis is simply ringworm of the scalp. In this condition the fungus invades the hair shaft. Tinea capitis is characterised by inflammation of the scalp with varying degrees of crusting and scaling. Hair loss results as well as broken abnormal hair stumps. This condition is rarely seen in pharmacy and is generally treated by medical practitioners.
Tinea barbae is ringworm of the beard and moustache areas of the face. This infection is characterised by inflammation, papules and pustules surrounding the hairs on the face and neck.
Tinea Corporis, Tinea Faciei
Ringworm of the body or face is characterised by sharply defined circular lesions. There is usually a raised red border of blisters with clearing in the centre of the lesion. The affected skin may be itchy. Single or multiple lesions may occur. This infection is usually transferred from an active lesion on an animal or another person.
This is a common infection, and is more frequent in males than females. However, it may occur in both sexes and extend backwards to the anal area and area between the buttocks. The patches of skin are often surrounded by a sharply defined outline. The degree of inflammation varies; the colour ranges from almost normal skin colour to tan to bright red. An intense itching is often present. A Candida albicans (thrush) infection may occur as a secondary infection. The skin of this area may also be affected by seborrhoeic dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema.
Any condition which is severe or is not responding to treatment should be referred for medical attention.
Tinea Pedis (Athlete’s Foot)
Tinea of the feet: The skin on the sole of the foot looks moccasin-likein appearance and is dry and peeling. Between the Toes: The skin is initially peeling and itching, and may become cracked and soggy due to the moisture and warmth. The affected skin is often itchy. Secondary bacterial infection is frequent. Candida albicans is also likely to be present in fissures which are soggy and macerated.
Tinea of the hands usually presents as redness and scaling of the palms. The cause may be from an infected animal (cat or dog), which if this is the case, will also need treatment. The arms, neck, upper part of the chest and cheeks may also become affected from touching by the hands. If the flesh at the base of the thumb is affected, the ringworm will take longer to eradicate as the flesh is thicker here, and a stronger preparation is likely to be needed.
Pityriasis versicolor is characterised by patches of opposite coloured skin – white on a sun-tanned or dark skin, coffee-colored on a pale skin. This infection usually occurs on the body and may spread to the neck or face.
The folds of skin surrounding the nails often become infected especially in those who have their hands constantly in water, e.g. nurses, bar attendants. The nail folds become red and inflamed. The nails themselves are sometimes infected and become discoloured. Bacteria also invade the affected area. The Candida species of fungi are frequently involved in moist skin-fold infections.
Thrush, Candidiasis, Monilia
Thrush, sometimes known as monilia or candidiasis, is usually caused by a yeast-like fungus, Candida albicans, but occasionally by other types of Candida. Candida albicans is normally present in the bowel, where it does no harm. Candida albicans tends to increase after the use of antibiotics and other imbalances of the environment, due to a decrease in the bacteria which normally control the growth of Candida albicans. It is sometimes also present in the vagina. Pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives and uterine devices increase the chance of Candida albicans infections.
People whose immunity is lowered by drugs or disease, or who suffer from diabetes, are also more vulnerable. Candidaalbicans may also be present in the napkin area of infants, or in the mouths of newborn babies where white patches of skin may be seen and for which medical attention is necessary. Candida albicans tends to infect skin or mucous membrane which is already inflamed, particularly in warm moist areas such as the groin, the vulvovaginal area or under the breasts.
The symptoms of vulvovaginal candidiasis include erythema and inflammation, intense itching and soreness and a creamy-white discharge.
A Candidal infection of the penis may occur in the sexual partner of a female with vulvovaginal candidiasis. This infection is also common in elderly males and in cases of diabetes mellitus. The symptoms include small white thin-walled pustules on the glans. Inflammation and erythemaare usually present.
Rashes in the napkin area may become secondarily infected with Candida. The skin will usually be red and inflamed. Candida can be diagnosed by the appearance of small white pustules around the edges of the rash.
It is important to note that, as bacteria are nearly always associated with fungal infections, the anti-fungal product used should also be anti-bacterial. It should also be effective against the organism Candida albicans, which frequently causes a superimposed monilial or thrush infection in warm, moist areas, where inflammation is already present, such as in the groin, the vulvovaginal area or under the breasts.
Candida albicans may also be present if the skin is soggy and macerated between the toes or fingers. To ensure that the fungal infection is completely and effectively treated and to help prevent recurrence it is important to continue the treatment for at least 5 days after the initial symptoms have disappeared. Soap should be avoided as it may cause further irritation to the skin. A soap alternative should be recommended.
Advice for the Patient
Careful drying of the skin and early treatment of the condition to prevent its spread to other areas is essential. The wearing of airy, absorbent clothing, light open shoes or sandals and the avoidance of overheating, rubber-soled shoes and synthetic socks will also help.
Products to Help (Soap Alternatives, Anti-pruritics)
An anti-itch, anti-inflammatory and cleansing solution with a pH of 6.5, Pinetarsol Solution relieves itching and reduces inflammation.
PINETARSOL BAR, PINETARSOL GEL
Pinetarsol Bar and Pinetarsol Gel are soap alternatives which can be used to cleanse the skin when ordinary soaps are contraindicated. Both Pinetarsol Bar and Pinetarsol Gel contain pine tar to relieve the itch and reduce inflammation. Pinetarsol Gel is ideal for ano-genital fungal infections when baths are not convenient.
PINETARSOL BATH OIL
Pinetarsol Bath Oil is a non-greasy, water dispensable bath oil for the treatment of dry, itching, inflamed skin conditions. Containing pine tar, Pinetarsol Bath Oil reduces the inflammation and relieves pruritus. Pinetarsol Bath Oil also contains emollient oils to hydrate the skin. Due to the cleansing properties of Pinetarsol Bath Oil it may be used as a soap alternative. Add 15-30mL to a warm to tepid bath (5mL to a baby's bath or hand basin) and bathe for 10 minutes once daily, more often in severe cases. Pat skin dry.
Products to Help (Anti-fungal Treatments)
Contains miconazole nitrate to provide treatment of athlete's foot, tinea, ringworm, pityriasis versicolor and fungal infections where bacteria may be present. It is a silicone based cream which helps to repel water and other irritants to help the site heal. Apply to the affected and surrounding skin twice daily for two weeks after symptoms disappear to avoid recurrence.
RESOLVE TINEA POWDER
With many fungal infections, the use of an anti-fungal powder in conjunction with a cream will help to prevent recurrences. Resolve Tinea Powder contains miconozole nitrate for the treatment of fungal infections especially of the foot and groin as it helps to keep the area dry. Dust onto affected skin and also inside clothing that is in contact with the affected area (such as socks) twice daily.