With the onset of Thailand’s rainy season, hospitals and medical clinics see an increase in the number people suffering from fungal infections. You don’t have to be one of them! In Bumrungrad International Hospital’s latest article, we share information about what causes fungal infections, their symptoms, and how to avoid them.
What causes fungal infections?
There are many types of fungi in the world, but only a small percentage make people sick. Most fungal diseases either grow on the surface of the skin or hair or thrive in the shallow layers of the skin, hair, and nails. There are more serious fungal infections that can infect the insides of your body, but the majority of fungal infections remain on the outside of the body. Although they are embarrassing and irritating, they are treatable.
Fungal infections thrive in warm, dark, and humid places, which is why they occur more often during Thailand’s rainy season. Fungal infections are also highly contagious. They can spread easily through direct contact such as sharing the hairbrush of an infected person or by using a locker room or a public pool with someone who has a fungal infection.
Common fungal infections include athlete’s foot and jock itch. These are characterized by itchy, red, and scaly dry patches on the feet and groin areas, respectively. Ringworm will begin with these symptoms and then grow into a larger red ring that can occur anywhere on the body. Candida, which is caused by yeast growth on the skin, will cause the infected area to itch and therefore become red and swollen. Another common skin infection, pityriasis versicolor, can be recognized by pale-colored round or oval-shaped patches on the skin, especially on the chest and upper arms.
Preventing fungal infections this rainy season
If you are careful and keep your skin clean and dry during rainy season, particularly in areas that are prone to being in the dark with minimal ventilation, you can reduce your chances of contracting a fungal infection.
Wash your body, particularly your feet and groin areas, every day. To ward off fungal infections of the scalp, use anti-dandruff shampoo several times a month in conjunction with your normal shampoo. Make sure to thoroughly dry off before putting on clean dry clothing.
Applying talcum powder will keep your skin dry and prevent it from sticking or rubbing together. Rubbing can also lead to heat rash, another common skin irritant that is common during Thailand’s rainy season. Some skin powder brands are medicated and will sooth your skin and reduce perspiration.
Wearing clothes made out of moisture wicking material is also an excellent way to keep your skin dry, particularly if you are prone to excessive sweating. If you do get wet or damp, do not sit around in your clothes. Change out of your wet bathing suit after swimming or damp underwear and socks after playing sports and put on loose fitting clothes to let your skin breath.
Treating fungal infections
Surface fungal infections are not difficult to treat. There are several treatments available depending on the cause of infection, location, and severity. After your doctor has diagnosed your fungal infection, you may be prescribed a topical cream or ointment. There are also medicated shampoos available if your fungal infection is in your scalp. Sometimes pills are necessary to take in order to fight the infection.
Be careful this rainy season to prevent an irritating rash. With these preventative tips from Bumrungrad International Hospital, a fungal infection shouldn’t stop you from having fun this summer.
By Dr. Rataporn Ungpakorn, Dermatologist at the Skin Center, Bumrungrad Hospital.