Fungal Skin Infection: Types, Treatment, Prevention (2023)

Although there are millions of species of fungi, only about 300 of them can actually cause infections in humans. There are several types of fungal infections that can affect your skin.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common fungal skin infections and the ways they can be treated and prevented.

Fungi live everywhere. They can be found in plants, soil, and even on your skin. These microscopic organisms on your skin typically don’t cause any problem, unless they multiply faster than normal or penetrate your skin through a cut or lesion.

Since fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, fungal skin infections can often develop in sweaty or damp areas that don’t get much airflow. Some examples include the feet, groin, and folds of skin.

Often, these infections appear as a scaly rash or discoloration of the skin that is often itchy.

Some fungal skin infections are very common. Although the infection can be annoying and uncomfortable, it’s typically not serious.

Fungal skin infections are often spread through direct contact. This can include coming into contact with fungi on clothing or other items, or on a person or animal.

Many common fungal infections can affect the skin. In addition to the skin, another common area for fungal infections is mucous membranes. Some examples of these are vaginal yeast infections and oral thrush.

Below, we’ll explore some of the most common types of fungal infections that can impact the skin.

Ringworm of the body (tinea corporis)

Contrary to its name, ringworm is caused by a fungus and not a worm. It typically occurs on the torso and limbs. Ringworm on other areas of the body can have different names, such as athlete’s foot and jock itch.

The main symptom of ringworm is a ring-shaped rash with slightly raised edges. The skin inside these circular rashes usually looks healthy. The rash can spread and is often itchy.

Ringworm is a common fungal skin infection and is highly contagious. It’s not serious, though, and can usually be treated with an antifungal cream.

Athlete’s foot (tinea pedis)

Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that affects the skin on your feet, often between your toes. Typical symptoms of athlete’s foot include:

  • itching, or a burning, stinging sensation between your toes or on the soles of your feet
  • skin that appears red, scaly, dry, or flaky
  • cracked or blistered skin

In some cases, the infection can also spread to other areas of your body. Examples include your nails, groin, or hands (tinea manuum).

Jock itch (tinea cruris)

Jock itch is a fungal skin infection that happens in the area of your groin and thighs. It’s most common in men and adolescent boys.

The main symptom is an itchy red rash that typically starts in the groin area or around the upper inner thighs. The rash may get worse after exercise or other physical activity and can spread to the buttocks and abdomen.

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The affected skin may also appear scaly, flaky, or cracked. The outer border of the rash can be slightly raised and darker.

Ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis)

This fungal infection affects the skin of the scalp and the associated hair shafts. It’s most common in young children and needs to be treated with prescription oral medication as well as antifungal shampoo. The symptoms can include:

  • localized bald patches that may appear scaly or red
  • associated scaling and itching
  • associated tenderness or pain in the patches

Tinea versicolor

Tinea versicolor, sometimes called pityriasis versicolor, is a fungal/yeast skin infection that causes small oval discolored patches to develop on the skin. It’s caused by an overgrowth of a specific type of fungus called Malassezia, which is naturally present on the skin of about 90 percent of adults.

These discolored skin patches most often occur on the back, chest, and upper arms. They may look lighter or darker than the rest of your skin, and can be red, pink, tan, or brown. These patches can be itchy, flaky, or scaly.

Tinea versicolor is more likely during the summer or in areas with a warm, wet climate. The condition can sometimes return following treatment.

Cutaneous candidiasis

This is a skin infection that’s caused by Candida fungi. This type of fungi is naturally present on and inside our bodies. When it overgrows, an infection can happen.

Candida skin infections occur in areas that are warm, moist, and poorly ventilated. Some examples of typical areas that can be affected include under the breasts and in the folds of the buttocks, such as in diaper rash.

The symptoms of a Candida infection of the skin can include:

  • a red rash
  • itching
  • small red pustules

Onychomycosis (tinea unguium)

Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of your nails. It can affect the fingernails or the toenails, although infections of the toenails are more common.

You may have onychomycosis if you have nails that are:

  • discolored, typically yellow, brown, or white
  • brittle or break easily
  • thickened

Prescription medications are often required to treat this type of infection. In severe cases, your doctor may remove some or all of an affected nail.

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(Video) Fungal Infections - Causes, Prevention and Cure

There are several factors that can put you at an increased risk of getting a fungal skin infection. These include:

  • living in a warm or wet environment
  • sweating heavily
  • not keeping your skin clean and dry
  • sharing items like clothing, shoes, towels, or bedding
  • wearing tight clothing or footwear that doesn’t breathe well
  • taking part in activities that involve frequent skin-to-skin contact
  • coming into contact with animals that may be infected
  • having a weakened immune system due to immunosuppressant drugs, cancer treatment, or conditions such as HIV

Many types of fungal skin infections eventually improve in response to over-the-counter (OTC) fungal treatments. However, call your doctor if you:

  • have a fungal skin infection that doesn’t improve, gets worse, or returns after OTC treatment
  • notice patches of hair loss along with itchiness or scaly skin
  • have a weakened immune system and suspect a fungal infection
  • have diabetes and think you have athlete’s foot or onychomycosis

Skin fungus treatment

(Video) Fungal infection of skin | Do's and Don'ts | Dermatologist | Dr. Aanchal Panth

Antifungal medications work to treat fungal infections. They can either kill fungi directly or prevent them from growing and thriving. Antifungal drugs are available as OTC treatments or prescription medications, and come in a variety of forms, including:

  • creams or ointments
  • pills
  • powders
  • sprays
  • shampoos

If you suspect you have a fungal skin infection, you may want to try an OTC product to see if it helps clear up the condition. In more persistent or severe cases, your doctor may prescribe a stronger antifungal drug to help treat your infection.

In addition to taking OTC or prescription antifungals, there are some things that you can do at home to help get rid of the fungal infection. These include:

  • keeping the affected area clean and dry
  • wearing loose-fitting clothing or shoes that allow your skin to breathe

Try to keep the following tips in mind to help prevent a fungal skin infection from developing:

  • Be sure to practice good hygiene.
  • Don’t share clothing, towels, or other personal items.
  • Wear clean clothes every day, particularly socks and underwear.
  • Choose clothing and shoes that breathe well. Avoid clothing or shoes that are too tight or have a restrictive fit.
  • Make sure to dry off properly with a clean, dry, towel after showering, bathing, or swimming.
  • Wear sandals or flip-flops in locker rooms instead of walking with bare feet.
  • Wipe down shared surfaces, such as gym equipment or mats.
  • Stay away from animals that have signs of a fungal infection, such as missing fur or frequent scratching.

Fungal skin infections are common. Although these infections aren’t usually serious, they can cause discomfort and irritation due to itchy or scaly red skin. If not treated, the rash may spread or become more irritated.


There are many types of OTC products that can help treat fungal skin infections. However, if you have an infection that doesn’t improve with OTC medications, see your doctor. You may need a prescription for more effective treatment.


What are some treatments and preventions from fungal infections? ›

Antifungal creams, many of which are available over-the-counter. Stronger prescription medications, which may work faster. Oral medicines, if the fungal infection is severe.

What are the 4 types of fungal infections of the skin? ›

Types of Fungal Infections

Some of the most common are athlete's foot, jock itch, ringworm, and yeast infections.

How do you prevent fungal skin infections? ›

Try to keep the following tips in mind to help prevent a fungal skin infection from developing: Be sure to practice good hygiene. Don't share clothing, towels, or other personal items. Wear clean clothes every day, particularly socks and underwear.

What is the most effective treatment for skin fungus? ›

Most fungal infections respond well to these topical agents, which include:
  1. Clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF) cream or lotion.
  2. Miconazole (Micaderm) cream.
  3. Selenium sulfide (Selsun Blue) 1 percent lotion.
  4. Terbinafine (Lamisil AT) cream or gel.
  5. Zinc pyrithione soap.
May 4, 2022

How can I prevent fungal skin infection at home? ›

Home Remedies For Fungal Infection are:
  1. Eat Yoghurt and Probiotics. Yoghurt and other probiotics have an ample amount of good bacteria that help stave off many fungal infections. ...
  2. Wash with Soap and Water. ...
  3. Use Apple Cider Vinegar. ...
  4. Use Tea Tree Oil. ...
  5. Use Coconut Oil. ...
  6. Use Turmeric. ...
  7. Use Aloe Vera. ...
  8. Garlic.
Nov 22, 2022

How can fungi diseases be prevented? ›

You can reduce your risk of getting a fungal skin infection by taking some simple precautions. Dry your skin well after washing – especially in skin folds. Wash socks, clothes and bed linen regularly to remove any fungi. Don't walk barefoot in communal areas such as showers, saunas and swimming pools.

What causes fungus skin infection? ›

Some fungal infections are caused by fungi that often live on the hair, nails, and outer skin layers. They include yeast-like fungi such as candida. Sometimes, these yeast penetrate beneath the surface of the skin and cause infection. In cutaneous candidiasis, the skin is infected with candida fungi.

What are 2 common fungal diseases that infect humans? ›

Fungal diseases that affect people who live in or travel to certain areas
  • Blastomycosis. Caused by the fungus Blastomyces, which lives in moist soil in parts of the United States and Canada.
  • Cryptococcus gattii infection. ...
  • Paracoccidioidomycosis.

What is the best way to prevent the spread of infection? ›

Washing hands properly is one of the most important and effective ways of stopping the spread of infections and illnesses. Wash your hands thoroughly using water and plain soap.

What foods prevent skin fungus? ›

The following 7 foods are also proven to bolster your system against candida.
  • Coconut Oil. Coconut oil is a traditional remedy to protect against candida and other fungal infections. ...
  • Turmeric. ...
  • Garlic. ...
  • Ginger. ...
  • Kimchi. ...
  • Apple cider vinegar. ...
  • Kale.
Aug 3, 2020

How do you treat skin fungus naturally? ›

10 natural remedies for fungal skin infections
  1. Apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar (or ACV for short) is one natural remedy that I shout quite a lot about here at A. ...
  2. Plain yoghurt. ...
  3. Tea tree oil. ...
  4. Turmeric. ...
  5. Cranberry juice. ...
  6. Garlic. ...
  7. Coconut oil. ...
  8. Aloe vera.
May 10, 2019

What kills bacteria and fungus on skin? ›

Bacterial infections are often treated with topical antibiotics applied directly to the skin or with oral antibiotics. If the strain of bacteria is resistant to treatment, treating the infection may require intravenous antibiotics administered in the hospital.

What is antifungal treatment for skin? ›

Antifungal creams, liquids or sprays (also called topical antifungals) These are used to treat fungal infections of the skin, scalp and nails. They include clotrimazole, econazole, ketoconazole, miconazole, tioconazole, terbinafine, and amorolfine. They come in various different brand names.

What kills a fungal infection in the body? ›

Antifungals are medicines that kill or stop the growth of fungi (the plural of fungus) that cause infections. They are also called antimycotic agents.

Does stress cause fungal infections? ›

"What we do know is that prolonged stress causes your cortisol level to go up, which causes your blood sugar to go up, and yeast loves sugar," explained Dr. Moore The yeast in your vagina thrives on this sugar and can grow quickly, resulting in an infection.

Is skin fungus contagious? ›

A: Yes, fungal infections on the skin are contagious. They can be passed from one person to the next by direct skin-to-skin contact, or by contact with contaminated items such as combs, unwashed clothing, and shower or pool surfaces. You can also catch ringworm from pets that carry the fungus.

Is skin fungus permanent? ›

Fungal skin infections typically will not go away by themselves and may spread if not appropriately managed. Fungal skin infections are common worldwide diseases; an estimated 20% to 25% of the world's population suffers from one of them.

Which part of the body has the highest percentage of fungal infections? ›

Feet come first when it comes to body parts with most fungi.

Which type of fungal infection is most serious? ›

The most common types of fungi that cause serious or life-threatening infections include:
  • Aspergillus, which causes aspergillosis. ...
  • Candida, which causes candidiasis, also called thrush. ...
  • Histoplasma, which causes histoplasmosis when the spores enter the lungs.

What areas of the body are most often infected by fungi? ›

Fungal infections, or mycosis, are diseases caused by a fungus (yeast or mold). Fungal infections are most common on your skin or nails, but fungi (plural of fungus) can also cause infections in your mouth, throat, lungs, urinary tract and many other parts of your body.

What are the 3 most important actions to prevent infection? ›

Wash your hands with soap and water throughout the day. Get recommended vaccinations to prevent infectious diseases such as measles and chickenpox. Practice safer sex to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) Stay home when ill.

What is the most effective and simplest way to prevent infection? ›

Hand washing is one of the simplest, most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness, including foodborne illness.

What feeds fungal infection? ›

In particular, foods high in sugar, refined grains, dairy products, processed meats, and alcohol may promote the growth of Candida ( 28 ).

What deficiency causes fungus? ›

CARD9 deficiency is a genetic immune disorder characterized by susceptibility to fungal infections like candidiasis, which is caused by the yeast fungus Candida. Typically, Candida does not cause severe problems in healthy people, but it can take advantage of those with a weakened immune system.

What foods feed fungus in the body? ›

Foods that Feed Candida
  • Sugar and Sweeteners. ...
  • Wine and Beer. ...
  • Dried Fruit and Fruit Juices. ...
  • Gluten and Grains. ...
  • Beans and Other Legumes. ...
  • Starchy Vegetables. ...
  • GMO Foods. ...
  • Fermented Foods.
Jul 8, 2016

Which soap is good for fungal infection? ›

Abzorb Antifungal soap is highly effective in destroying fungal infections in the body. The soap works by killing and preventing the growth of fungus. This soap also relieves the body of symptoms caused by the fungal infection.

Can fungus go away without treatment? ›

Fungal nail infections typically don't go away on their own, and the best treatment is usually prescription antifungal pills taken by mouth. In severe cases, a healthcare professional might remove the nail completely. It can take several months to a year for the infection to go away.

How long does it take for a fungal skin infection to clear up? ›

Ketoconazole usually works within 2 to 3 weeks for most fungal infections, but it can take 6 weeks for athlete's foot to get better. It works by killing the yeasts (fungi) that cause the infections. The most common side effects of the cream and shampoo are irritated or red skin.

What is the best antifungal for skin rash? ›

  • Clotrimazole (Lotrimin) creams and lotions can be applied to superficial skin infections. ...
  • Other antifungal creams, such as ketoconazole (Nizoral), which is available by prescription, is helpful as well.

How do I get rid of fungus fast? ›

Antifungal medications

Most of the time, you'll need to see a doctor for a prescription antifungal medication, such as terbinafine or itraconazole. These will often involve taking a pill that helps to kill the fungus.

What is the main treatment of fungal infection? ›

Fungal infections are typically treated with antifungal drugs, usually with antifungal drugs that are applied directly to the affected area (called topical drugs). Topical drugs may include creams, gels, lotions, solutions, or shampoos. Antifungal drugs may also be taken by mouth.

What are the most common treatments of fungal infections? ›

Common names for antifungal medicines include:
  • clotrimazole (Canesten)
  • econazole.
  • miconazole.
  • terbinafine (Lamisil)
  • fluconazole (Diflucan)
  • ketoconazole (Daktarin)
  • nystatin (Nystan)
  • amphotericin.

How are fungal diseases treated? ›

They usually affect your skin, hair, nails or mucous membranes but they can also infect your lungs or other parts of your body. You're at higher risk for fungal infections if you have a weakened immune system. Antifungal medications are usually used to treat fungal infections.

What are 3 common fungal infections? ›

Fungal diseases that affect people with weakened immune systems
  • Aspergillosis. An infection caused by Aspergillus, a common mold that lives indoors and outdoors.
  • Candida auris infection. ...
  • Invasive candidiasis. ...
  • Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP)

What medication kills fungus in the body? ›

OTC medications
  • miconazole (Desenex)
  • terbinafine (Lamisil AT)
  • clotrimazole (Lotrimin AF)
  • butenafine (Lotrimin Ultra)
  • tolnaftate (Tinactin)
Dec 6, 2019

What is the main cause of fungal infection? ›

Causes and Diagnoses of Fungal Infections

Weakened immune system. Travel to an environment with excessive fungi. Outbreak of fungi due to changes in the environment, such as construction. Introduction of new fungi to an environment.

What is a natural antifungal for skin? ›

Citronella, geranium, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and peppermint, among others, have been tested specifically against fungi and found to be effective antimicrobials for that purpose. Tea tree oil is another essential oil that has demonstrated antifungal capabilities.

What cream is good for fungal skin infection? ›

Clotrimazole: medicine used to treat fungal skin infections - NHS.

What is the strongest antibiotic for fungal infection? ›

Amphotericin B deoxycholate (AMB-d) is FDA indicated for treating life-threatening or potentially life-threatening fungal infections: aspergillosis, cryptococcosis, blastomycosis, systemic candidiasis, coccidioidomycosis, histoplasmosis, and mucormycosis.

How do doctors get rid of fungus? ›

Your health care provider may prescribe an antifungal cream, such as efinaconazole (Jublia) and tavaborole (Kerydin). You rub this product into your infected nails after soaking. These creams may work better if you first thin the nails.

What foods cause fungus in the body? ›

In particular, foods high in sugar, refined grains, dairy products, processed meats, and alcohol may promote the growth of Candida ( 28 ).

What deficiency causes skin fungal infection? ›

CARD9 deficiency is a genetic immune disorder characterized by susceptibility to fungal infections like candidiasis, which is caused by the yeast fungus Candida.


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