If you have a fungal infection or a ringworm infection, such as ringworm or athlete's foot, don't worry. Although unsightly and often itchy, most fungal infections are generally easy to treat. The 2 main forms of medical treatment are antifungal creams (applied directly to the infection) and oral medications. Good skin hygiene is also important when treating a fungal infection. After consulting with a doctor about fungal skin infection, you can also try some natural remedies to speed up medical treatment.
Method 1 of 3: Treat Infections with Medications
Step 1. Look for a rash, dry skin, and other symptoms of a fungal infection
Most types of fungal infections have symptoms that cause the infected skin to peel off, dry out, and turn red. Most fungal infections are also itchy and can cause discomfort. Some fungal eruptions, such as vaginal yeast infection or yeast infection, may have few or no external symptoms. In these cases, itching and discomfort are the main symptoms.
- For example, ringworm on the face or body looks like 1 centimeter (½ inch) circles on the skin. These circles are usually red, bumpy, and scaly, and have raised edges. Ringworm on the foot (or athlete's foot) manifests as itching, scaling, and white, dry skin between the toes.
- Jock itch has slightly larger red spots located in the groin area and is often accompanied by severe itching.
Step 2. Apply an over-the-counter antifungal cream for most fungal skin infections
Topical treatments are the most effective way to treat most fungal infections. Antifungal creams should be applied directly to the infected skin, usually 2 or 3 times a day, so that they can clear up the infection in a week. Always read the package directions carefully and apply the topical cream as directed.
- Visit your local pharmacy to purchase an over-the-counter antifungal cream. Most large pharmacies have a specific "antifungal" section.
- Some common over-the-counter antifungal medications include Lamisil (which is safe for people over 12 years old), Desenex, and Lotrimin AF. Tinactin and Neosporin AF are good options for treating children with fungal infections. Use these medications as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor.
- Most varieties of over-the-counter antifungal creams include drugs such as miconazole, clotrimazole, and econazole.
Step 3. Visit a doctor if the infection does not clear up with the topical cream
Most mild infections heal relatively quickly with an antifungal cream. If the infection lasts longer than 3 weeks (or grows to cover a larger area of the body) make an appointment with your GP. Show him the infection and tell him how long it has lasted and if you are in pain. Ask him to prescribe a medicine to cure the infection.
Also make an appointment if you have an antifungal infection on your scalp or a similar hard-to-reach area
Step 4. Get a laboratory diagnosis of infected skin cells if necessary
In some cases, it is difficult to determine if a fungal infection is causing a rash. In these cases, the doctor will take a sample of the skin from the affected area and send it to a medical laboratory for analysis. For example, your doctor will scrape skin cells from your toes if they suspect you have athlete's foot.
If you have a vaginal yeast infection, your doctor will take a sample of skin cells from the vaginal walls and cervix
Step 5. Take antifungal pills for large infections or those that appear above the jaw line
It may be impractical to apply a topical cream, for example, to the entire back or to both legs. If you have a fungal rash that covers more than 1 square foot (0.09 m2) of your body, your best treatment option is an oral pill. You may also need oral medications to treat fungal infections on the face or scalp. Read the instructions carefully and take the oral pills as directed on the package.
- In many cases, your doctor will ask you to continue taking oral medications for up to 2 weeks after the rash has healed.
- If you have a vaginal yeast infection, your doctor may prescribe soft medicated granules that can be inserted into the vagina to clear the infection.
Step 6. Talk to your doctor about the side effects of oral medications
Some people experience side effects from oral antifungal medications. In most cases, the side effects are relatively mild and limited to problems such as an upset stomach and skin irritation. Ask your doctor how to avoid or treat these side effects. For example, you may recommend Pepto Bismol for the stomach and a medicated lotion for skin irritation.
If you experience severe stomach pain after taking an oral antifungal medicine, visit an emergency room
Step 7. Treat scalp infections with a selenium sulfide shampoo
If you have a fungal infection on your scalp, look for a medicated shampoo that contains selenium sulfide, such as Selsun Blue or Head & Shoulders. Follow the directions on the container or ask your doctor how to use these shampoos.
- Selenium sulfide shampoos are safe for children. If you suspect that your child has a fungal scalp infection, take him to a pediatrician for a diagnosis.
- You can also use a selenium sulfide shampoo to treat fungal rashes on other parts of the body, such as athlete's foot. Apply the shampoo to the affected area in the shower and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing it off. Symptoms should go away in about 4 weeks.
- If symptoms worsen or do not improve after a few weeks, schedule a follow-up appointment with your GP.
Method 2 of 3: Take Care of Your Skin
Step 1. Dry your skin thoroughly after your daily shower
If you have a fungal infection (or if you want to avoid having one) it is best to shower once a day. After you get out of the shower, pat your skin dry with a clean, dry towel. It's especially important to completely dry dry areas of your skin that tend to sweat or have folds. These include areas like the armpits and groin.
- Fungi like moisture, so if your skin is still damp when you put your clothes on, you are at risk for infection.
- Keep your feet clean and dry, and avoid sharing your socks or shoes with other people.
Step 2. Wear loose-fitting fabrics that wick moisture away from your skin
Loose-fit cotton or linen shirts are a good option if you have a fungal skin infection. It is important that the infected skin can be dried and loose clothing will facilitate this task. Loose clothing does not rub or irritate infected skin, allowing it to heal.
Avoid wearing tight clothing and any garment made with fabrics that do not let air in. Leather is a good example of the type of clothing to avoid
Step 3. Wash sheets, clothing, and towels weekly to remove stubborn fungus
When treating a fungal skin infection, it is important to keep the fabrics around you as clean as possible. Fungi can persist on any fabric that is in frequent contact with the body. So even if the infection clears, you can get it again by sleeping, for example, on unwashed sheets.
- This is also an important measure to prevent the infection from spreading to other people. Fungi travel relatively easily and you run the risk of infecting friends, roommates, and family if you don't keep the towels, sheets, and clothing you wear clean.
- You can also protect your feet by wearing sandals in shared bathrooms or shower areas, such as showers at the gym or the area around the pool.
Method 3 of 3: Try Natural Remedies
Step 1. Rub coconut oil on a fungal infection 2 times a day
Among its many other uses, coconut oil contains fatty acids that can kill some species of yeast and other fungal infections. Dip two fingers into a jar of coconut oil to coat them with a thin layer of oil. Then run your fingers over the skin suffering from the fungal infection until the area is completely covered. Repeat this twice a day for best results.
- If you have a vaginal yeast infection, soak a tampon in warm coconut oil before inserting it.
- The antifungal properties of coconut oil have been proven in a study conducted by the United States National Library of Medicine.
Step 2. Apply ground garlic under nails to treat nail beds
It is not uncommon for fungal infections to attack the skin under the fingernails and toenails. To help treat infections in this hard-to-reach area, use the flat edge of a kitchen knife to grind a clove or two of garlic. Tuck the crushed garlic under the infected nails and leave it there for 20 to 30 minutes before washing your hands or feet.
Medical studies have shown that garlic contains natural antibiotic properties that help fight fungal infections
Step 3. Drink diluted apple cider vinegar to fight fungal infections
Apple cider vinegar is packed with healthy antimicrobials that can fight fungus and help heal infection. Mix the apple cider vinegar and water in a 1: 1 ratio and drink about 1 cup (240 milliliters) each day. This will help to prevent the infection from spreading and to clear up the infection quickly.
- Apple cider vinegar is also packed with healthy nutrients including phosphorous, potassium, and calcium. However, its antifungal properties are mostly anecdotal.
- You can buy apple cider vinegar at any supermarket or grocery store. It may also be for sale in some large pharmacies.
Step 4. Eat a plain yogurt with active cultures for breakfast
Yogurt with active bacteria cultures contains many probiotics, which can improve the health of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. A healthier gut makes your body better able to fight infections, including fungal infections.
- You can buy yogurt at any supermarket or grocery store. Check the label on your yogurt and make sure it contains live strains of Lactobacillus before purchasing.
- Similar to apple cider vinegar, yogurt's antifungal properties are mostly anecdotal and stem from yogurt's ability to improve overall gut health.
- Some of the more common fungal infections include ringworm, athlete's foot, jock itch, thrush, and "tinea versicolor" (dark patches on fair skin).
- Fungal skin infections can affect children and adults in a variety of ways. Different infections differ in the amount of discomfort they cause. Some are very itchy and unpleasant, while others are barely noticeable.
- If you live in a warm climate and frequently have sweaty feet at the end of the day, try changing your shoes every 2-3 days. Wearing the same shoes for many days in a row can cause a fungal infection.
- Do not resort to natural remedies as a substitute for medical treatment. Although natural remedies can complement medications, you should never take them without consulting a doctor.
- Fungal infections located under the fingernails or toenails are difficult to treat. Even with medicine, healing can take up to a year.
- Fungal skin infections can have symptoms that are very similar to other skin disorders, such as seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, or even Lyme disease. If you have the symptoms of a fungal infection, it is important that you receive an accurate diagnosis from your doctor so that you can treat it appropriately.