Fungal Infections and Yeast Infections

Symptoms and Treatments for 10 Different Types

Is yeast a fungus? Yes, it is. Mushrooms and molds also fall into the fungi category. A fungus is not in the family of bacteria or viruses, but it can still cause an infection. 

Many people associate yeast infections with the vagina, and that is one type of yeast infection. But there are other kinds of yeast infections that can affect skin all over the body.

You might cringe at the thought of having a fungal or yeast infection. The concept might feel icky. The reality, however, is that many types of fungi live on the skin all the time, even though you can't see them. Most of the time, these fungi don't cause any problems, but sometimes a fungus will change and cause an infection. These are some of the more common fungal and yeast infections that people experience.

Tinea Versicolor

Tinea versicolor is also known as pityriasis versicolor. It is a fungal infection of the top layer of the skin, the epidermis. The yeast that is responsible for this rash loves oil glands, so teenagers and young adults tend to get tinea versicolor more often than older people.

There is a treatment for tinea versicolor, but the infection often comes back. Fortunately, this infection doesn't cause any pain or itching.

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Jock Itch

Jock itch, also known as tinea cruris, is a fungal infection of the skin in the groin. Fungi flourish in a warm, moist environment—and that certainly describes the groin. Women can get jock itch, though the infection tends to strike men. 

Jock itch can be very itchy, as its name implies, but it usually responds well to over-the-counter fungal infection creams. Preventing jock itch involves keeping the groin as dry as possible and sometimes using an antifungal powder every day.

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Athlete's Foot

Athlete's Foot
Athlete's Foot. Lester V. Bergman/Getty Images

Athlete's foot, or tinea pedis, is a common fungal infection of the feet. There are different types of athlete's foot infections, but the most common one occurs in between the toes. This infection causes intense itching and breaks down the skin, so it often looks like white goo between the toes.

Athlete's foot is typically treated with creams or lotions, but sometimes a severe case will require an oral antifungal medication.

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Ringworm

Ringworm, also known as tinea corporis, is a common fungal infection of the skin. There are several fungi that can cause ringworm and they live in the epidermis.

Ringworm causes more symptoms than tinea versicolor, like itching and a noticeable rash. The rash consists of scaly, red patches or bumps that gradually turn into the shape of circles. It's treated pretty easily with a topical antifungal medication.

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Ringworm of the Scalp

Ringworm of the scalp, or tinea capitis, is a more intensive fungal infection than ringworm that appears on other areas of the skin. The fungi that cause this ringworm not only invade the skin of the scalp but also hair follicles. It can cause the involved hair to fall out, leaving a bald spot with a ringworm-type rash in the center.

Tinea capitis does not respond well to topical creams. It has to be treated with oral antifungal medications.

Ringworm of the Beard

Ringworm of the beard, or tinea barbae, is similar to ringworm of the scalp in that the fungus infects both the skin and the hair follicle. The most common type of tinea barbae is an infection deep in the skin that causes very red nodules on the face with pus that drains and tunnels through the skin to other areas close to the nodules. A less common type of tinea barbae is a mild infection on the surface of the skin.

This infection has to be treated with oral antifungal medications—creams or lotions are not effective.

Fungal Nails

Fungal Infection in Nail
Lester V. Bergman

A fungal nail infection, or onychomycosis, is caused by a fungal infection in the part of the toe that makes the nail. As the nail grows out, it becomes brittle, thickens, and separates from the nail bed.

Fungal nail infections have to be treated with oral antifungal medications. Creams and lotions don't help.

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Intertrigo

Intertrigo is a yeast infection that occurs in skin folds. Since this yeast grows easily in warm, moist areas, any place on the body where skin touches skin is susceptible. Intertrigo most commonly occurs in the armpits, in the groin, and under heavy breasts or fat folds.

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Thrush

Thrush is a yeast infection inside the mouth. It is common in babies because their immune systems are still developing. It can also occur if someone takes antibiotics or uses an inhaled corticosteroid without rinsing his or her mouth afterward.

Thrush is easily treated with antifungal medicine in the mouth.

Id Reaction

An id reaction isn't exactly a fungal infection. It's a rash on one part of the body that happens in response to a fungal infection that's somewhere else on the body. An id reaction is very itchy and often causes blisters on the skin.

This rash goes away after the fungal infection has been treated.

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