Noted German naturalist Johann Lucas Schoenlein was the first to discover as well as classify yeast infections of the skin in 1839. The fungus responsible for skin infection in that instance was a dermatophyte, which was named Trichophyton schoenleinii later. In fact, this fungus was identified as the first micro organism that was responsible for disease or infection in humans.
Nearly a century later, B. Shelmire was the first to discover skin yeast caused by Candida in 1925 and published the findings of his study in Arch. Dermatol. Syph. 12. Ever since, several studies have been undertaken on skin infections caused by Candida and many research papers were published on this topic.
Basically, yeast infections are excessive growths of specific fungus species, especially Candida albicans. The growth of fungi can reach uncontrollable proportions when any individual has weakened immune functioning and/ or extremely poor hygiene. Their overgrowth on the skin is especially seen in warm and damp body areas such as the underarms, breasts, groins and feet. Infections by Candida yeast may also develop internally, in the mucous membranes inside the mouth, vagina and intestines.
There are assortments of natural remedies that can be used to cure yeast infections. In addition, there are several anti-fungal medications for topical use. Although yeast infections may cause some mild and possibly discomfiting symptoms, generally they are not considered to be serious conditions. However, yeast infections can sometimes prove to be life threatening, especially for people who have a weakened immunity. This can happen if the infection by yeasts reaches the blood stream as well as other body areas.
Usually, fungal or yeast infections appear on the skin in the form of an aggravated rash, which is generally reddish, but at times grey; mostly scaly and always cause itching. These patches are somewhat elevated on the skin and may even develop into tiny pustules if the suffer scratches them often. It has been noticed that on the external areas of the body, yeasts grow best inside the skin folds, as they are usually dark, warm and moist. Generally, obese people and women with large breasts are more susceptible to developing yeast infections of the skin provided they have a poor immune system or do not practice hygienic methods.
Many infants, particularly those who remain in damp or dirty diapers for a prolonged period of time, too may develop Candida diaper rash inside their skin folds and the crevice of their buttocks.
It is also very common for fungus to invade the fingernails, toenails and scalp. They can also be found on the sole of the feet and between the toes (a condition that is commonly referred to athlete's foot).
In order to diagnose if you have yeast infection of the skin, your physician may scrape off some skin where the rashes have developed and examine it under a microscope. Alternatively, the physician may also put the skin sample in petri dish or culture medium and allow it to grow.
Yeast infections of the skin have a distinctive characteristic which helps to differentiate it from rashes and other types of skin infections. They usually have a musty smell. This smell is more prominent when one has Candida yeast infections within their oral cavity (a condition known as oral thrush) or inside the vagina. This musty odour is also somewhat obvious when there is an overgrowth of yeasts on one's skin or inside the skin folds.
Occasionally, the musty and sweet odour of yeast overgrowth can be concealed or even confused with the common body odours, as they are predisposed to reproduce close to the underarms, buttocks and groin.
It is worth mentioning here that while fungi possess a typical smell, they are able to alter their shape as well as appearance responding to the various environmental factors as well as the body area they invade. You may find yeasts growing in spherical shapes or even as thin, long threads that are called hyphae.
A number of species of fungi proliferate by means of spreading tiny spores in the air, which may land on one's body or people may even inhale them. This is the main reason why usually yeast or fungal infections start from the skin or in the lungs.
Yeasts are so widespread in the environment that any person can potentially develop a fungal or yeast infection. However, who really have a poor hygiene and a weakened immune system are more vulnerable to develop this condition. Generally speaking, opportunistic infections such as those caused by bacteria, virus and fungi are more common in individuals who have a weak immune system, as their body is not very competent to combat these micro organisms. By itself, microbes like yeast and fungi may be opportunistic and make the best use of their feeble and unhygienic hosts.
There are several reasons for one having a weakened immunity. These include age (for instance very young and very old people usually have frail immune systems); chronic malnourishment; chronic stress; diabetes; infections of the immune system like HIV/ AIDS; autoimmune disorders; using excessive medications, especially antibiotics and corticosteroids; and chemotherapy for healing cancer.
In addition to the above mentioned causes, people using public swimming facilities and baths devoid of proper foot protection are also more vulnerable to develop fungal infections of their toenails and feet. From there, the infection can gradually spread to other areas of their body.