Fungal Disease of Hair, Skin & Nails Diagnose & Treatment

Fungal infections are superficial infections of the hair, nails, and skin caused by a variety of fungi normally present in the soil and animals.

Fungal Disease

Fungal infections are superficial infections of the hair, nails, and skin caused by a variety of fungi normally present in the soil and animals. Fungal infections are commonly called 'ringworm' but these are not spread by worms. Infections are spread by direct skin contact (with humans or animals), or indirectly from contaminated articles on floors or in the soil. Treatment to cure superficial fungal infections has evolved a long way. However, methodological strategies like identifying variation between species in responsiveness, seeking improved methodologies to ensure adequate concentration of medicines in the affected skin, nails, or hair, and applying different treatment methods play an important role in ensuring steady improvements.

Signs of Fungal Infections Spread

Itching, soreness, and redness/ rash are common signs in the affected area. Superficial infections are localized in a particular part of the body:

  • Scalp and beard: Infected hairs break off easily and become brittle; a visible hairless patch appears

  • Fingernails and Toenails: The nail thickens and becomes discolored, Cheesy material appears beneath the infected nail

  • Skin: Ring-shaped lesion appears as a flat with a red edge that may be wet or dry


Superficial fungal infections in hair, skin, and nails are chronic and recurring. Superficial fungal infections are triggered by dermatophytes in Epidermophyton, Microsporum, and Trichophyton genera. Dermatophytes live on keratin in nails, skin, and hair. The skin is an excellent protective cover on the human body but fungi species especially the Ringworm class has the ability to survive on human skin and cause infection. In people with weakened immune systems, these fungi are caused infection comparatively easily. Superficial infections in skin, nails, and hair are not life-threatening but these need immediate treatment.

Superficial Fungal Infections Diagnosis & Treatment

Superficial fungal infections are easy to treat in immune-competent individuals. Superficial infections can be severe requiring the application of highly potent antifungal agents like oral systemic medications, topical antifungal agents, and creams. Prednisone usage often alters the appearance of fungal infection making it difficult to diagnose. Therefore, primary care providers need to understand the transmission, epidemiology, diagnosis techniques, clinical presentation, and effective treatment options. Culture, histopathology, and direct microscopy have been the foundation pillars for the accurate diagnosis of fungal infection.

Diagnosis starts with the examination of the infected skin part and examining samples of skin, hair, or nail. The collected samples of fungus are also grown to get insights into the causes, prevention, and effective treatment. The incubation period (The period between getting an infection and the appearance of symptoms) varies according to the infected area and the particular type of fungus. Specific antifungal therapies are administered to treat fungal infections; sometimes the treatment may go on for many months. Treatment for scalp ringworm and nail infection is a little bit complex and time taking because recurrences of ringworm are very likely.

Role of Dermatologist Treat Fungal Disease of Hair, Skin & Nails

A dermatologist is a medical professional with a specialization in both pathology and dermatology. Knowledge of both fields enables dermatologists to diagnose fungal infection by looking at a small sample of infected skin, hair, or nail with a microscope. A certified dermatologist has extensive training after adequate qualification to diagnose and treat more than 3,000 fungal diseases of hair, skin, and nails. Dermatology is a special area of medicine focused on fungal infections that affect your skin, nails, and hair. A dermatologist has a deeper understanding and experience to treat fungal diseases of hair, skin & nails. The common procedures dermatologists follow to treat fungal infections include-

  • Collection of samples of infected skin, hair, and nail tissue for microscopy and culture (mycology) to establish the approach for fungal infection treatment

  • Direct microscopy of infected nail clippings n skin scrapings

  • Culture of fungi

  • Blood testing of patients suffering from severe fungal infection

Pro-note: While all dermatologists treat children with infected skin conditions, you must approach a pediatric dermatologist if your child is suffering with a severe fungal infection disease.

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