Causes of Fungal Infections

There are several types of fungal infections of the skin from athlete's foot to jock itch to ringworm. Each type of fungal infection is caused by a specific fungus and may be very unsightly. Understanding the cause of fungal infections, though, is the first step in preventing the skin conditions.

Athlete's Foot

Athlete's foot may be caused by several types of fungus, but it is most commonly caused by a fungus called trichophyton rubrum. It affects the foot and may cause peeling, itching and other symptoms. Fungus grows in warm, damp areas and is spread in moist environments such as in the shoes, socks, public pools or locker rooms. College students who share communal showers may also be at a greater risk of athlete's foot and other fungal infections. Individuals who wear tight shoes and who live in warm, humid climates may be at greater risk of athlete's foot. The condition is most common in the warm summer months when high temperatures and increased humidity levels create ideal environments for fungus.

Jock Itch

Jock itch may cause itching, burning and rash around the genitals, inner thighs and buttocks. It is caused by a fungus called tinea cruris and thrives in warm, moist environments such as locker rooms and showers. It may be spread through direct contact with other people or by touching objects with infected skin scales. Similar to athlete's foot, jock itch is most common in the warm summer months and in wet climates and regions.


Ringworm is not a worm and is not caused by a worm. It is a fungal infection of the skin and appears as a circular, red sore on the skin. The outer part of the sore may be raised. Ringworm may occur on any area of the body and, while it is often embarrassing, is not considered a serious condition. Ringworm may be spread by direct contact with other individuals or animals or with objects or furniture carrying the infection.

Yeast Infection

Yeast infection may appear on the skin and is caused by a fungus called candida. When yeast on the skin grows quickly, yeast infections may be the result. While they may appear anywhere on the body, warm areas such as the armpit and groin are most affected. Candida may also cause infection in the mouth or nails, diaper rash in babies or vaginal yeast infection in women. There are other types of fungal infections of the skin. Those who believe they may have a fungal infection should consult a medical professional to determine the best course of treatment.

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