Fungi are widespread in the environment so it is not unusual that a large amount of fungi and their spores end up being inhaled into the lungs or landing on the skin. Under conditions of moisture, warmth, irritation and injury these fungi grow rapidly and may cause infection.
Fungal infections of the skin that usually result in red, flaky patches on the skin cause physical stress and lead to mental distress. The hot, humid weather of the UAE is the ideal breeding ground for these infections and it is advisable to take precautionary actions. Dr. Khushbu Goel, Specialist Dermatologist at Medeor 24x7 Hospital outlines some of the more common infections and how to treat them:
Athlete’s Foot: Medically known as Tinea Pedis, this infection occurs in the feet and is caused by a fungus that lives on dead skin cells. It leads to peeling, redness, itching and in severe cases blisters and sores. The common fungal infection thrives on moist, warm environments and spreads through direct contact. It is usually found in socks, shoes, swimming pools and the floors of public toilets. To avoid contracting the infection, it is advisable not to share socks or towels and make sure to wash these items of clothing at least every other day with warm water and soap, wear shoes that allow the feet to breathe, dry your feet thoroughly after washing them and use a good quality foot powder. If you share shoes with a friend make sure they wear their own socks. Moroccan baths or the Turkish Hammam are popular across the UAE – while these are great for sloughing off dead skin cells, they are suitable areas for the fungus to grow. When booking your next appointment, make sure the place ensures proper sterilization between each patron.
Jock Itch: Jock itch, also known as tinea cruris, is a fungus that thrives in warm, moist areas of the body and hence almost always spreads to the genitals, inner thighs and buttocks more often in summer or in the warm, hot climate. It spreads from contact with an infected person or object and results in itching and chafing of the infected area and a circular red raised rash with elevated edges. To avoid the infection, it is vital to change clothing especially underwear daily. Try to avoid public restrooms or use toilet seat covers if you do so. If you contract the infection, wash and dry the affected area with a clean towel thoroughly and apply anti-fungal creams and powder at night.
Ringworm: Known as tinea corporis, ringworm is a fungal infection that appears as circular, red flat sore accompanied by scaly skin. The outer part of the sore is raised while the skin in the middle appears normal. It is spread through direct contact with infected people or animals and heat and humidity exacerbates it. Due to its name, many believe the infection is due to a worm however it is caused by fungi that lives in dead skin cells.