What is Tinea manuum (Hand Fungus)
Hand fungus, also referred to as tinea manuum, is a skin condition that is caused by a certain type of fungi called dermatophytes. As typically seen on other dermatophyte infections, its affectation is limited on the superficial layer of the skin.
Dermatophytes have keratinases, a specialized enzyme that has the ability to digest skin protein. Once the skin protein is digested, this state will give the fungi the opportunity to set itself into the skin and then cause infection after a while. 
Compared to other fungal infections, tinea manuum is the least common among other tineas such as tinea unguium (affecting the nails) and tinea pedis (affecting the feet). It is even frequently misdiagnosed because of its similar appearance with the hand dermatitis and psoriasis.
Differential Diagnosis, Symptoms and Pictures
Dermatophyte is a collective term used for a kind of fungi that causes infection. Below, the different types of dermatophyte that can affect the hands (including the fingernails) are enumerated together with the presenting symptoms.
1. Tinea manuum (Hand fungus)
This is a dermatophyte that affects the palms and the hands but is commonly present on the fingers.
Picture 1: Tinea manuum (Hand fungus)
- Itching and burning sensation on the affected area
- Crackling or scaly skin
2. Tinea unguium
Medically known as onychomycosis, tinea unguium is the type of dermatophyte that affects the nails. This happens if there is a cracked or split nail present, and acted upon by the fungi. Though it commonly infects the toe nails, tinea unguium can also affect the fingernails.
Figure 2: Tinea Unguium (Nail Fungus)
Here, the fingernails are already discolored and white powdery substance can be seen underneath the fingernails.
- Discolored and thickened nails (usually yellow but can also be black or green)
- Brittle nails
- Inflammation and scaly skin (around the infected nail)
- Accumulation of powdery white particles underneath the nails
- Painless separation of the nail from the nail bed [3, 4]
3. Tinea nigra
This is another hand fungal infection but is not caused by a dermatophyte. This is caused by “Hortaea werneckii”, another type of fungi.
Figure 3: Tinea Nigra
Notice its “dark spots” compared to hand fungus caused by Tinea manuum which has no discoloration.
- Dark black or dark brown patches on the palms
- Painless 
- All types of fungi can either be anthropophilic (passed from one person to another), zoophilic (animals to humans), or geophilic (soil to humans).
Risk Factors and Causes for Tinea manuum (Hand Fungus)
Presence of tinea unguium is attributed to these factors:
- Dermatophyte infection
- Close contact with an infected person
- Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) – sweaty palms are a good place for fungus to thrive
- Regular contact with animals that carry the fungus or with the soil where the fungus can be found
- Poor hygiene and sharing of personal items
- Weakened immune system – fungus are opportunistic organisms
- Humid weathers – fungus loves humid conditions 
Hand Fungus Treatment
Treatments are designed usually to clear the infection, but there are some cases where repeated episodes can also arise. The mode of treatments for hand fungus can be subdivided into home remedies and the medicinal remedies usually in the form of an ointment. 
- A lot of antifungal creams are presently available and the most commonly used are miconazole, econazole, tioconazole and clotrimazole.
- Clotrimazole cream is said to be the most effective antifungal agent of all and even tagged as the “best antifungal cream” on the market. It can be used not only for hand fungus but can also cure ringworm, vaginal yeast, oral thrush, jock itch infections and athlete’s foot. 
- Antifungal creams can also be purchased over the counter. But it would still be better if an advice from a doctor will be sought as this can cause various side effects such as blistering, hives, rash, burning, itching, swelling, redness or other signs of skin irritation. 
Home remedies will help in saving money and could really be helpful, but if these remedies fail, it will be the best option to consult a professional doctor so that you will be prescribed with the necessary medicine.
Home Remedies for Hand Fungus
- Vinegar solution – To make this solution, dilute ¼ to ½ cup of vinegar in a gallon of water. Soak the affected area into the solution for at least 15 minutes and do this three times a day.  If an irritation results from using this solution, avoid using it every day and limit the frequency to twice a week.
- Tea tree oil – The effectiveness of tea tree oil in battling the fungal infection can be compared to the effect of 1% solution of Clotrimazole. Rub the tea tree oil (undiluted) onto the affected area twice a day and you will see an improvement. 
- Homemade cream – To make a homemade fungal cream, you will need to mix together the ½ cup of baking soda and 3 tablespoons of vinegar until it has a pasty consistency. Once the cream is done, apply this on the affected area for at least three times a day for seven days or until the fungus clears up. Refrigerate it and be extra careful not to contaminate it by dipping your applicator to it only once. 
Prevention of Hand Fungus
- Maintaining a good hygiene.
- Drying the skin entirely after bath.
- Not sharing personal items like towels.
- Regularly wash your bed linens and clothes.
- Manage your diabetes since a high level of blood sugar increases your chances of acquiring either bacterial or fungal skin infections. 
- Keeping nails trimmed and clean. 
- To prevent recurrence, use the ointment prescribed on its full course as recommended by your doctor.
- Avoid walking barefoot especially on soil where the fungus can be found. 
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Use a gloves whenever you are going to touch animals that might be a carrier of the fungus or when you are gardening.
- Boost up your immune system. 
Since fungal infection are always almost everywhere and are just waiting for an opportunity to strike, maintaining a very healthy lifestyle and putting extra effort on taking care of yourself will pave a long way. It boils down to treatment and prevention to save you from any kinds of fungal infection.