Every second person is eagerly waiting for rains so that we get relief from this scorching heat. But, as we welcome monsoon, it brings along with it hub of infections too. Monsoons play a perfect breeding ground for all vector- borne, viruses, fungus and parasites.
Humidity in air and excessive sweating tends to favor fungus to grow and multiply at a rapid rate. Fungus needs moisture and warmth, and monsoon provides it a conducive atmosphere to thrive and multiply.
Types of fungal infection:
- Tinea Cruris / Ringworm
- Fungal Infection of Nails (Onychomycosis)
- Tinea Alba (Pityriasis Alba)
- Tinea Versicolor (Pityriasis Versicolor)
- Pityriiasis Rosea
Out of the above list, fungal infection of nails aka Onychomycosisis the most neglected one.
Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nails that causes discoloration, thickening, and separation from the nail bed with/without foul smell. Onychomycosis occurs in 10% of the general population, 20% of persons older than 60 years. It is caused by a variety of organisms, but most cases are caused by dermatophytes. The risk of onychomycosis is 1.9 to 2.8 times higher in persons with diabetes compared with the general population. Onychomycosis affects toenails more often than fingernails because of their slower growth, reduced blood supply, and frequent confinement in dark, moist environments (eg- shoes).
- Antifungals medicines are widely used for the treatment of onychomycosis. Treatment of Onychomycosis is widely believed to be only a cosmetic problem, but it can be uncomfortable and can lead to cellulitis (bacterial infection involving the inner layers of the skin) in older adults and foot ulcers in patients with diabetes. Eradication of the infection is a key to improving appearance and avoiding these complications, but it is not easily accomplished because nails are made of keratin, which is nonvascular and impermeable to many agents. Because of poor drug delivery to nails, results of treatment may not be apparent for a year.
- Tea tree oil is a natural disinfectant, possessing fungicidal and anti-bacterial properties that make it popular in treating toenail fungus. 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil + 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. Apply this mixture with the help of the cotton ball to the affected nail 2 times daily or add 4-5 drops of tea tree oil in enough water to soak your feet for 15-20 minutes.
- Rub Coconut oil onto the area and let it absorb and dry naturally. Repeat 2-3 times daily. Wear gloves or wash your hands between applications (if you have more than one affected nail.
- Topical Mentholated ointment (Vicks Vaporub) is also used to treat onychomycosis. Apply it regularly to the affected nail at night.
But all said and done, Prevention is better than cure!
The best way to avoid fungal infections is to maintain a high level of hygiene.
- Always keep your fingernails and toenails trimmed. Cut them straight and file down the thickened areas. Also make sure that they are dry and clean. After having bath, dry the toenails and even the area between the toes.
- Avoid putting your hands or feet in water constantly.
- Watch out for your manicures and pedicures. If the manicure or pedicure is done in a wrong way or with using contaminated instruments then you are at risk for developing onychomycosis.
- Too much nail polish and or wearing artificial nails tends to trap moisture, which will allow the fungi to thrive.
- Do not tear the skin around the nails or trim it. The slightest injury or cut allows the fungi to enter the nail.
- Wear clean dry cotton socks, which will absorb the moisture and keep your feet dry. It is a good habit to remove your shoes occasionally especially after exercising.
7) Always wash your legs with soap and water after coming from out especially during the rainy season where we tend to step into dirty puddles.
Happy Feet = Happy Monsoon…..Enjoy!