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Fungal Infections

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Fungal Infections

General Purpose:

Fungi prefer to live in moist areas, which make certain locations of the body – including the toes, genitals, and underneath the breasts – prone to a number of common infections. Although fungal skin infections can affect anyone, obese individuals and those who have diabetes are more susceptible than others.

Yeast infections are a common type of fungal infection and are caused by the fungus Candida. They can lead to rashes, itching, and scaling of the affected areas. Yeast infections are more likely to occur during hot and humid weather, while wearing tight, synthetic underwear, and among individuals with poor hygiene.

In addition, certain medications can also promote the growth of fungi that lead to yeast infections. In most cases, yeast infections can usually be successfully treated through the use of antifungal creams or oral antifungal medications; however, for individuals with weakened immune systems, yeast infections can become system-wide and life-threatening if not properly treated.

Ringworm (also known as tinea) is another common fungal skin infection, and is caused by a number of different fungi. Ringworm is usually classified according to its location on the body. Although Ringworm is often associated with the appearance of a ring-shaped rash, other symptoms include scaling and itching, and they frequently vary depending on the location of the infection.

Tinea pedis, commonly known as athlete’s foot, is associated with redness and itching, as well as cracking of the skin. If not treated properly, athlete’s foot can lead to bacterial infection, in particular among older individuals and those who have insufficient blood flow to their feet.

“Jock itch” (tinea cruris) and scalp ringworm (tinea capitis) are also related infections, the latter of which is highly contagious and common among children. Tinea versicolor refers to an infection with the fungus Malassezia furfur, which affects the top layer of the skin and results in scaly, discolored patches.

These patches are generally asymptomatic, but can grow larger over time. Although effective treatments are available to treat the underlying fungal infection, skin may not regain its normal color for a long period of time following treatment.

Research related to fungal skin infections is constantly seeking to develop more effective anti-fungal medications, as well as to evaluate methods of preventing infections and minimizing their complications among at-risk individuals.

What Will Fungal Skin Infection Clinical Trials Be Like?

The types of procedures used in fungal skin infection clinical trials will ultimately depend on the specific nature of the study, the type of fungi being studied, and the specific aspect(s) of the associated symptoms. Provided below is a list of common procedures, tests, and assessments that may be incorporated into fungal skin infection clinical trials:

  • Detailed physical examination
  • Skin or hair biopsy
  • Blood tests
  • You may also be asked to avoid wearing lotions, perfumes, colognes, or scented make-up on the day(s) of your appointment.
  • Use of lotions, creams, oral medications, or laser light therapy
  • Photography of the skin

Typical Fungal Skin Infection Clinical Trial Protocol:

Specific examples of clinical trials for fungal skin infections might include the following:

  • A clinical trial to determine if a topical anti-fungal cream, applied once a day for four weeks in between each toe of the affect foot/feet, is effective and safe at treating athlete’s foot in men and women.
  • A randomized clinical trial in which a standard oral antifungal therapy plus a new topical antifungal medication is collectively more effective at treating severe vaginal yeast infections when compared to standard oral antifungal therapy plus a placebo topical medication.
  • A study to determine if a personal hygiene educational intervention is effective at reducing the rate of athlete’s foot among high school athletes.
  • A long-term study conducted in newborn babies and infants to determine if repeated use of a standard topical anti-fungal cream to treat diaper rash causes the yeast to become resistant to the medication over a two year period.

A brief word about randomized trials and placebos:

Many clinical trials involve the comparison of an investigational treatment to a “standard” treatment. Some studies determine which therapy a patient receives through a process known as randomization, in which patients are randomly assigned to receive either the investigational treatment or the standard treatment.

On occasion, a trial will investigate the use of a standard treatment plus a new drug compared to standard treatment plus a placebo (such as the second clinical trial example provided above). Placebos are inactive or “sham” treatments that are identical in appearance to the active treatment but have no therapeutic value.

Placebos are necessary to help determine if adverse effects that occur during the clinical trial are the result of the investigational treatment or due to some other factor. They also allow researchers to measure the effects of the active treatment and observe what would have happened without it.

In rare instances where no standard therapy exists, or when a new drug or therapy is being investigated, the investigational treatment might be compared to a placebo alone. In these types of trials, those patients who are randomized to the placebo group do not receive an active treatment.

It is important to know that placebo-only trials are only conducted when scientifically necessary and when patients have been adequately informed that they may end up receiving the placebo rather than the active treatment. It is very important to note, however, that no one should ever participate in such a placebo trial when there is a widely available and highly effective standard treatment already in existence for their particular disease or condition.

Trial Eligibility and Medical Information Needed:

The type of clinical trial you may be eligible for often depends on many factors, including the type of fungal skin infection you have. Therefore, it is important to know as many details as possible with regard to your specific circumstances when searching for clinical trials.  Examples of information you may want to have on hand include the following:

  • The type of infection you have, and associated fungi (if known)
  • Your prior and current diagnoses of any other health conditions or diseases
  • Your current medications (including vitamins, minerals, and other dietary supplements)

Suggested Search Terms: 

Once you are ready to begin your search for clinical trials for fungal skin infections, it is advisable to search using your particular diagnosis (i.e., athlete’s foot, vaginal yeast infection, ringworm, etc.) followed by any of these terms: “treatment,” “prevention,” “children,” “pediatric,” “hygiene,” “diabetes,” “obesity,” “medication,” and “complications.”

Current Search Term:

“Fungal Infections”

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