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Fungal Infection

What is a fungus?

Fungus is a germ that can be found anywhere on our body, hair, skin and nails. Fungi live in warm, moist areas. Children are most susceptible to developing fungal infections, as they love to share things and hug each other.

What are the types of fungal infection?

Types can be classified according to location:

  • Tinea capitis (scalp).
  • Tinea corporis (body).
  • Tinea manuum (hand).
  • Tinea pedis (foot) or called as ‘athlete’s foot’.

What factors increase the risk of developing fungal infections?

  • Overcrowding in a humid or moist environment.
  • Unhygienic lifestyle – sharing towels, wearing wet clothes, repeatedly use the same socks or stockings, long nails, walking barefoot in damp public places.
  • Underlying medical problems – Uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, HIV, or on long-term treatment with medication that weakens your immune system (e.g: cancer treatment).

What are the signs and symptoms of fungal infections?

Nails infected are:

  • Brittle.
  • Thick.
  • Flat or dull in colour.
  • Distorted in shape.

Athlete’s foot

  • Occurs between the toes and other areas of the feet.
  • Is Itchy and red within wet areas.

Tinea capitis (head)

  • Presents as Itchy, red areas.
  • Causes hair to become brittle.
  • Leads to bald patches.

Tinea corporis (body)

  • Shows as red and scaly edge with normal looking skin in the center.
  • May also presents as rashes in circles.
  • Is itchy.

The itchiness is more obvious when at rest.

How can fungal infections be treated?

Consult a doctor for accurate diagnosis so that the correct treatment can be given. Management includes

  • Proper hygiene and personal care.
  • Antiseptic-such as KMNO4 (Potassium permanganate) solution helps in wet or weepy lesions.

Antifungals

  • Medications which may be given by injections or taken by mouth.
  • Topical applications (eg creams/gels).

How can fungal infections be prevented?

  • Lead a hygienic, healthy lifestyle.
    • do not share towels, change socks and stockings frequently.
    • do not go outdoors barefoot, keep nails short and clean.
  • Wash feet at least once daily.
  • Do not wear tight-fitting shoes.
  • Leave your shoes out to dry overnight.
  • Wear a loose clothing to avoid sweating.
Last reviewed : 27 April 2012
Content Writer : Dr. Norrashidah Hj. Abd Wahab
: Dr. Nor Mahani Harun
Reviewer : Dr. Sabeera Begum bt. Kader Ibrahim