What Causes a Fungal Rash?


Despite what most people think, anyone can develop a fungal rash.  Bacteria and fungus are naturally found living on human skin at all times, and a minor alteration in the amount of type of fungus on the skin can lead to the development of a fungal infection and rash. There are several different types of fungal rashes, and treatment will often vary depending on the direct cause of the rash. Preventing a fungal rash is possible and can be performed with some daily maintenance.


There are a lot of misconceptions about fungal infections. Healthy and hygienic people can easily develop fungal infections. Some people with certain medical problems are at a higher risk of developing fungal infections however. For example, people who may be over-weight may develop fungal infections at a higher rate because the more skin folds there are on a person, the more places there are for fungus to grow and change. Diabetics will also have a higher risk of developing fungal infections because of their body’s regulatory processes. Long term use of anti-biotics in treatment for other conditions can also increase a patient’s risk of fungal infections as they alter the natural and harmless living organisms found on the human body. This is also true for people with compromised immune systems. Essentially, anything that can allow excessive moisture to remain on the skin for a significant period of time can grow fungus. This is why this problem affects people with mobility issues that decrease their ability to clean themselves properly or people with bladder control issues.


There are several different types of fungal infections that may cause rashes to develop. Tinea Capitis is caused by either the bacteria Trichophyton tonsurans or Microsporum canis. These types of fungus spores are transmitted by close contact between humans, so it will often occur in young children. Tinea Capitis causes a red rash to appear on the patient’s scalp, and can often cause hair loss around the affected area. Signs of this type of fungal rash may also include a gray, scaly appearance with dark dots on the rash itself and some cases it may develop thick pustules filled with pus. A doctor will often perform a series of tests to determine which types of fungus are causing the rash and infection in order to prescribe a treatment program. These tests can include a KOH test, which involves looking at the fungal spores under a microscope, using special lamps that show the type of fungus by illuminating it in certain colors, or a taking a small piece of the rash area to perform a culture test. Tinea Capitits is resistant to topical anti-fungal medications so the treatment will require oral anti-fungal medications.  


Another form of fungus that may cause infections and rashes to develop is Tinea Versicolor, or a fungal infection of the skin. This type is affected directly by sebaceous glands and involves the alteration of natural yeasts found living on the skin. Because of the effects of the sebaceous glands, this infection often occurs in young adults and has a high recurrence rate. Tinea Versicolor rashes appear on the skin in large patches. This type of fungus can affect the chemicals that color the skin, so it is not uncommon for hypo-pigmentation or hyper-pigmentation to occur. This can mean the skin will turn deep red or white in color. Treatment for Tinea Versicolor can mean topical anti-fungal medications used for a significant period of time. Often the skin color changes that accompany this form of fungal infection can take weeks to go away.


Another cause of fungal infection is known as ringworm. This type is caused by a change in fungus growth on the skin and can easily be transmitted from person to person through contact. It can affect many different parts of the body at one time in the form of red scaly patches of oozing skin and may need to be treated with anti-fungal creams and daily cleaning procedures. It is important with all types of fungal infections to keep the affected area clean and dry.