Look out for skin-re­lated fun­gal in­fec­tions

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR BODY - Pre­pared by Phar­macy Self Care, Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal So­ci­ety of NZ Inc.

It’s the end of the golden weather for an­other year, but some peo­ple still wan­der around bare-footed – with the po­ten­tial to pick-up fun­gal in­fec­tions of the feet (‘‘ath­lete’s foot’’), or out jog­ging get­ting hot and sweaty.

If sweat builds-up in the groin area for ex­am­ple, it can lead to an­other type of fun­gal in­fec­tion com­monly known as ‘‘jock itch’’.

Skin-re­lated fun­gal in­fec­tions oc­cur mainly in warm, moist ar­eas, for ex­am­ple within skin­folds, un­der the breast, around the groin, in the vagina and be­tween the toes.

Ini­tially the skin can look red and rash-like, but can also be scaly, cracked and peel­ing, and be­come in­flamed and very itchy (ath­lete’s foot).

With jock itch, the skin is itchy with raised red patches and sharp bor­ders.

In con­trast, ring­worm – a fun­gal in­fec­tion that can oc­cur af­ter di­rect con­tact with an in­fected an­i­mal – usu­ally ap­pears on the arms, legs, face, neck or body-trunk as a flat, red, itchy, ring-shaped sore that is clear at the cen­tre but with a red scaly boarder.

In­fected skin can be­come un­com­fort­able – es­pe­cially if hot, and painful. At its worst, the skin can split and sec­ondary bac­te­rial in­fec­tion can oc­cur.

Ath­lete’s foot is easy to catch from walk­ing around pub­lic swim­ming pools, camp ground fa­cil­i­ties and other ar­eas where there are pud­dles of wa­ter through which many peo­ple walk in bare feet. The fungi or­gan­isms can live in the pud­dles – thriv­ing in the warm and moist con­di­tions, and on sur­faces that in­fected peo­ple have touched and onto which their shed skin has set­tled. ‘‘If you have itch­i­ness and flaky skin be­tween your toes’’, cau­tion Self Care phar­ma­cists, ‘‘or no­tice a red scaly spot on your skin, you are likely to have a fun­gal in­fec­tion. You need to come and see us so we can ad­vise about the best care and treat­ment op­tions.’’

Self Care phar­ma­cists will also ad­vise about ways to pre­vent get­ting fun­gal in­fec­tions in the fu­ture, or pass­ing them on to oth­ers. Such ad­vice in­cludes:

• Keep dry the skin ar­eas prone to in­fec­tion. This is im­por­tant es­pe­cially af­ter sweaty sports and bathing/show­er­ing. Wash sweaty ar­eas and towel-dry well. Maybe use a hair dryer to dry be­tween the toes.

• Don’t wear tight cloth­ing for long pe­ri­ods (be­cause it can lead to mois­ture build-up on the skin), or cloth­ing made from fab­rics that stop mois­ture wick­ing away from the skin.

• Wear flip-flops in pub­lic show­ers and when walk­ing around swim­ming pools, or wear other suit­able footwear that pro­tects your feet from con­tact with the ground and pre­vents them pickingup any fun­gal or­gan­isms.

• Don’t share cloth­ing, shoes, tow­els, etc.

• Let sweaty shoes dry out thor­oughly be­fore re-wear­ing them.

• Change socks and un­der­clothes daily.

• In­spect your pets for fun­gal in­fec­tions and treat them if nec­es­sary.

• Eat in a healthy way (the Weight and Health and Re­duc­ing Your Choles­terol fact cards of­fer guid­ance), keep fit and get plenty of sleep. It means your im­mune sys­tem can do its best to help ward-off fun­gal in­fec­tions.’’

If you do end-up with a skin in­fec­tion, treat­ment is with a spe­cific an­ti­fun­gal prepa­ra­tion avail­able from your lo­cal Self Care phar­macy. The type of prepa­ra­tion best for you – cream, pow­der, lo­tion or spray – will de­pend on the area be­ing treated. Ac­cord­ing to Self Care phar­ma­cists, ‘‘that is part of the coun­selling ser­vice we pro­vide.’’ Nor­mally prepa­ra­tions have to be used for two weeks to clear the in­fec­tion, and for a fur­ther week or two af­ter that to pre­vent a re­turn.


Days of bare feet on the beach are over, it’s time now to look out for fun­gal in­fec­tions.

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