Fungal infections of the skin (i.e., cutaneous fungal infections) are a common phenomenon, affecting millions of people worldwide.
While cutaneous fungal infection is not normally life threatening, it can be very uncomfortable and associated with a significant decrease in quality of life. Candida is just one of a variety of microorganisms commonly found on human skin. In healthy individuals, the overgrowth of candida is inhibited by resident skin microorganisms (normal bacterial skin flora).
However, when there is an imbalance of this normal skin flora, candida can begin to reproduce in sufficient amounts to cause infection (i.e., candidiasis). Due to an increase in the number of immunocompromised individuals, the rate of candidiasis of the skin (i.e., cutaneous candidiasis) is currently on the rise. Cutaneous candidiasis can affect virtually any part of the human body (e.g., fingernails, external ear, in between fingers and toes), it most often occurs in warm, moist, creased areas such as the armpit or groin. Major symptoms of cutaneous candidiasis include itch (unrelenting and often intense) and an enlarging skin rash.
Individuals whose hands and/or feet remain wet for prolonged periods of time may be prone to fungal infection around or under their finger and toe nails. In these cases, the nail area commonly becomes red and swollen. The nails themselves will become thick and brittle, ultimately becoming destroyed. Although anyone’s nails can become infected by fungus, these types of infections are more common among adults older than 60, and among individuals with diabetes or poor circulation.