Fungi that commonly cause skin diseases are called dermatophytes. “Dermatophytes” doesn't refer to a particular group of fungi, but rather to the fact that they attack the dermis, or skin. Fungal infections of the skin can be treated with topical creams as well as prescription drugs.
The best-known fungal skin infection is athlete's foot. It infects approximately 10 percent of the United States population. It is most common among adolescents and adults; however, it may affect people of any age.
Athlete's foot can grow on the feet in different forms, including the following:
A good way to combat athlete's foot is to keep feet clean and dry. Topical powders or creams may also help to control infection. Unfortunately, athlete's foot is tough to eliminate and often comes back.
Scalp itch is a fungal infection of the scalp and hair. It usually occurs in young children, but may appear in all age groups. It is contagious and may be spread from child to child in a school or day care setting.
An antifungal drug called riseofulvin cures scalp itch in one to three months.
Nail fungus is most common in adolescents and adults, especially among people who have frequent manicures. These infections can manifest themselves in a variety of patterns. Sometimes a portion of the nail becomes thick and brittle. Other times, the fungi attack the cuticle and the growth spreads out from there. This cuticle-based infection is common in AIDS patients.