Fungal Infection of the skin
Constant rains; wet and damp environment everywhere then intense heat and sweat- This is the favourite and most loved season by fungal infections.
Damp clothing and humid weather are supposed to be the best friends of fungi. In last few years fungal infections of skin , hair and nail have almost attained epidemic proportions in India. The epidemic of fungal infections is so prevalent that it is no longer restricted to any season, any age group or any socio-economic status.
Infections of skin by fungus is known as dermatophytosis as these fungus are also known as dermatophytes. These dermatophytes feed on dead cells of skin , hair and nail.
Transmission of fungal infections
- Direct skin to skin contact.
- Animals to humans.
- Objects to humans such as contaminated clothing, towel,hair brush, bathroom fittings and beddings etc.
- From ground/ soil / surface to skin
Risk factors for increased fungal infections or fungal infections not responding to treatment
- Excessive sweating.
- Sharing of clothes, toiletries and bathrooms.
- Wearing tightly fitting clothes.
- Wearing of damp clothes for long duration.
- Participation in team sports where physical contact is common in players.
- Weak immune system
- Infected and untreated family members or partners.
Areas of body where fungal infections can occur
- Tinea corporis- when fungi infect skin of trunk, back, legs etc.
- Tinea capitis- fungal infections of scalp. It may present as bald patches, broken hairs or pus filled boggy swellings.
- Tinea cruris- infection of private parts.
- Tinea barbe- infection of male beard.
Tinea facie- infection of face skin.
Tinea incognito- this is the worst and most problematic type of infection. It describes a situation where infection has become severe and troublesome because of wrong usage of steroids. Tinea incognito is difficult to treat and requires longer treatment and more general care during treatment stage.
Onychomycosis- it is fungal infection of nails. This infection requires long term treatment and may involve lasers and other procedures to reduce fungal colony load. In general medicines take longer time to start reaching the areas of nail where infection is a)ready present.
Tinea mannum- fungal infections of hands. This is more common in certain professions and also in people who have simultaneous onychomycosis.
Tinea pedis- it is infection of soles and present as thick itchy plaques or painful blisters.
Diagnosis and treatment of dungal infections
Goodnews about fungal infections is that they are treatable and not life long afflictions however these are very stubborn infections and require meticulous attention.
Diagnosis is commonly done by careful examination by dermatologist. Dermatologists are trained to recognize all varieties of fungal infections. Additional investigations which may be done in certain scenarios are- woods lamp examination; KOH mount, nail clippings, trichoscopy, dermatoscopy.
Treatment of fungal infections should aleays be done under direct supervision of a dermatologist. Depending upon the history; severity and type of infections following things may be involvex in treatment of fungal infections
- Topical creams
- Oral tablets.
- General care instructions
Care to be followed during fungal infection treatment or to avoid getting repeated fungal infections.
- Wear loose airy clothes.
- It is important to keep the infected part dry specially during summer and sweaty months.
- Change damp clothing as soon as possible.
- Don’t use personal care prosucts of other people such as make up brushes, comb, towel, body lotions etc
- Change cotton socks frequently.
- Avoid using heavily used and unhygienic public washrooms.
- Don’t mix clothes of infected and uninfected people while washing.
- Keep nails short, dry and clean.
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