Fungal & Yeast Skin Infections Vocabulary

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rachel Torrens

Rachel obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Grove City College. She then earned her Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Nursing from Thomas Jefferson University. For over 8 years, Rachel has practiced as a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner, and taught science to elementary aged students.

Fungal and yeast skin infections occur as fungi or organisms embed in the skin or grow on the surface. Learn the vocabulary associated with these types of infections, including ringworm, athlete fungal infections, and yeast. Updated: 11/22/2021

Fungi on Skin

When you look at your arm, you might notice the color of your skin, or a mole, or the coarseness of your hair. However, if you had goggles that let you see microscopically, you would see a world of bacteria and fungi teeming on your skin! These tiny tenants help to keep our skin healthy, but sometimes, less helpful species overtake this valuable hosting property, leading to various skin disorders.

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  • 0:00 Fungi on Skin
  • 0:28 Fungal Skin Infections
  • 1:22 Ringworm
  • 2:52 Athlete Fungal Infections
  • 4:32 Yeast Skin Infections
  • 6:19 Lesson Summary
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Fungal Skin Infections

Tinea is a general term used to describe a fungal infection on the surface of the skin. Often, this generic term is coupled with another more specific term that tells you something about the location, appearance, or origins of the infection. For example:

  • Tinea capitis: a fungal infection on the scalp
  • Tinea corporis: a fungal infection on the body
  • Tinea cruris: a fungal infection in the groin and/or perineum region(s)
  • Tinea pedis: a fungal infection on the feet and toes
  • Tinea versicolor: a skin condition caused by yeast that causes either lighter or darker-colored spots to develop on the skin

Now that we have a basic understanding of the term 'tinea,' let's examine each of the aforementioned conditions in more detail!

Ringworm

The first two conditions we are going to examine are commonly referred to as 'ringworm.' That's because the specific type of fungus, named dermatophytes, causes red, raised, ring-shaped spots to form on the skin. But it is important to know, there are no actual worms present in this infection!

Tinea captitis is a fungal infection of the scalp and hair follicles that leads to circular, bald patches. Again, colloquially, this is known as 'ringworm on the scalp.' The dermatophytes cause mildly itchy, scaly patches to develop. Most often, tinea capitis is observed in younger children and, as fate would have it, is highly contagious, so it can spread quite quickly. The good news is that it is treatable! The combination of antifungals taken by mouth and antifungal shampoos applied directly to the scalp clear up the majority of infections.

Tinea corporis is a fungal infection on the body that causes the development of red, doughnut-shaped lesions. In layman's term, it is simply known as 'ringworm on the body.' This is the same infection as tinea captitis, but instead of the dermatophytes infecting the scalp, they infest the trunk, face, or extremities. Again, it is common in younger children and likewise treatable with antifungals.

Athlete Fungal Infections

We've examined a type of fungus that likes to prey on young children, so let's move on to fungi that prefer athletes! Tinea cruris is a fungal infection in the groin, inner thighs, and buttocks, which leads to redness and itching. Does this sound familiar? Well, you're probably already familiar with this condition, but know it as 'jock itch.'

How did it earn this nickname? Fungi like moist, dark, and warm environments. So, the perineal area of an extremely sweaty person, like an athlete, especially if he is wearing a protective athletic cup that prevents any ventilation, is fungi's dream come true. Once the fungi invade, the person begins to develop red, scaly patches that are extremely itchy.

Tinea cruris responds well to treatment with antifungal creams and ointments applied directly to the area. However, treatment is lengthy, extending over two weeks in most cases.

Another type of fungal skin infection that has earned a sporty reference is 'athlete's foot.' Tinea pedis is a fungal infection beginning between the toes, extending onto the foot, which causes itching, redness, and stinging. Again, athletes with sweaty feet wearing tight sneakers are often prone to this condition, but anyone with poorly ventilated shoes and sweaty toes can end up with tinea pedis. It is a highly contagious condition. To treat, topical antifungals are usually prescribed, although in severe cases, an antifungal medication taken by mouth may be needed.

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