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Fungal skin infections

02 October 2021
13 min read
Volume 32 · Issue 10

Abstract

Fungal infections of the skin continue to place a burden on healthcare services. Margaret Perry provides an overview of the most common conditions

Fungal infections of the skin continue to place a burden on healthcare and are a significant issue globally in terms of their cost and impact on resources. Some are more difficult to treat than others and there is a wide variation in duration of treatment, depending on the site and severity. Many fungal infections share similarities in appearance with other skin conditions, which can sometimes make diagnosis difficult. This article details some of the most common conditions and aims to give nurses and non-medical prescribers an overview of evidence-based treatment and management as well as to increase confidence when managing some of these troublesome diseases.

Fungal skin infections are a worldwide problem and carry a substantial burden in terms of therapeutic cost and impact on healthcare resources (Urban et al, 2021). They can affect any age and vary widely in severity and treatment duration, as well as posing a challenge in terms of educating the public and promoting prevention wherever possible. This article will look at common fungal skin infections, their treatment and management and give nurses and non-medical prescribers more confidence in advising and treating patients affected by one or more of the diseases discussed. Common fungal skin infections include:

Fungal infections caused by dermatophytes, a group of fungi that invade and grow in dead keratin, lead to infection that is normally confined to dead layers of skin. Because dermatophytes require keratin for growth, they are restricted to hair, nails and superficial skin layers and would not normally infect mucosal surfaces (Hainer, 2003). Failure of the skin's normal protective mechanisms make infection possible and, once established, can be transmitted from person to person. Some types are more frequently seen than others, with tinea pedis being most common in adults and tinea capitis the most likely diagnosis in children (Tidy, 2021a). The most prevalent organisms are (Tidy, 2021a):

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