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Fungal skin infections are also known as Dermatophytosis. Superficial fungal infections are common and affect the outer layer of skin, hair and nails, and are generally mild. Subcutaneous fungal infections affect deeper layers of the skin- the dermis, subcutaneous tissue, and even the bones.

Symptoms of fungal skin infection

Fungal skin infections are very common and include athlete’s foot, jock itch, ringworm, and yeast infections. In the case of athletes foot, the surrounding skin becomes soft and moist, and easy to peel, but is generally painless. Ringworm is caused by mold like fungi that thrive on the dead tissues of skin, hair, and nails. This appear as red, itchy, scaly patch or bump. With time the bump turns into a ring- or circle-shaped patch.

In case of nail infections, the toenails thicken. Affected nails are difficult to cut and trim. Usually the fungus spreads from the edges, down to the cuticle turning the nail thick and crumbly. Infection caused by the candida strain of fungus starts at the cuticle making the nail fold swollen and red.

Causes of Fungal Skin Infections

Causes of fungal infections can be classified into three categories: dermatophytes, yeasts, and moulds. The most common being dermatophytes. Yeasts and moulds mainly attack nails that are already damaged. Since fungus thrives in hot and moist environments, hence, sweaty and enclosed feet in the footwear tend to become breeding ground for a fungal infection. Athlete’s foot can be caused by any of these factors such as bacterial infection, soft corn, mould infection, fungal infection, injury or existing skin conditions.

Who is at risk of Fungal Skin Infections

Elderly or people with weak immune systems are more likely to be affected by fungal nail infections. Diabetic people are also more prone to such infections. Athletes foot is affects people who tend to more sweaty feet, enclosed in shoes for extended period of time- sports persons and people who do physically strenuous jobs.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

A piece of the nail or skin around the affected nail is sent to the laboratory for analysis. The laboratory test helps in determining the strain causing the fungal infection. This test is then correlated with the results of physical examination done by the dermatologist.
The line of treatment can comprise of application of topical antifungal medications, which can be taken in conjugation with oral antifungal medication. The treatment time can span up to a few months depending on the severity of a particular case. It’s always recommended to see an experienced dermatologist to treat such infections before it spreads or starts causing physical discomfort.