Getting caught in the rain may be inevitable for office goers. But not many realize that an occasional walk through stagnant, dirty water, wearing damp clothes through the day and skipping a head shampoo could lead to serious skin infections.
“Fungal skin infections are common between May and September. Fungus thrives in humidity and when wet skin folds and rubs against itself, fungi and yeast breed,” says Ramji Gupta, consultant dermatologist, Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi. Simple precautions can help. If you can’t wear sandals, “air your feet” whenever possible, rather than “locking them in closed shoes, made worse with nylon or synthetic socks”, says Dr Gupta. Soaking your feet in warm water with 3-4 capfulls of betadine solution is a good home remedy to ward off infections.
Yeast infections in the underarm, groin and under the breast are due to moisture. They manifest as macerated itchy white patches. Visit a dermatologist who will probably prescribe oral antifungals.
We sweat profusely during monsoon months. Guard yourself against sweat rash, or Miliaria crystalline, which occurs when sweat glands get blocked. Another common ailment is prickly heat which commonly appears on the neck, groin and armpits.
Ringworm or tinea
These ring-like lesions are a form of fungal infection. They appear in the underarm or around the waist as itchy, irregular round patches that are reddish in colour. Diabetics are more prone and while palm and sole infections take a month to heal, others subside within a few weeks. Treatment is with an antifungal ointment.
It is a bacterial-fungal infection that erupts when feet are wet for hours, especially after exposure to dirty water. In severe cases, the skin turns whitish or greenish, itches and emits a foul-smelling discharge or pus. Staying dry and carrying a change of footwear to the office will help.
“The key to monsoon-related infections lies in keeping the body dry and though this sounds simple, in a practical sense, it may not be easy to follow,” says Dr Gupta.
Allergies from insect bites
These are at an all-time high during the rains, especially in children. An easy way to circumvent allergies is to wear full-sleeved clothes and to use a mosquito repellent or a local antibiotic steroid cream. Paederus dermatitis is caused by an insect called Paederus which sprays toxins, leaving the skin discoloured with reddish patches that cause a burning sensation. Being a toxic reaction, an antibiotic cream helps.
Scabies is the result of mite infestation. A sprinkling of red bumps or a rash on hands, wrists, underarms and abdomen are the first signs, and being contagious, need immediate intervention.
This odd-sounding ailment has nothing to do with feet. It means lice infestation of hair and is the result of damp hair being tied up too long.
Essentially, to ward off skin infections, avoid moisture, dampness and sweat.
• Don’t use synthetic innerwear. Wear cotton undergarments that allow the skin to breathe and absorb sweat
• Remove socks/shoes and let feet breathe
• Exfoliate, apply antibacterial toner and hydrate skin with a water-based moisturizer
• Reduce use of hair sprays and gels. Hair lacquers and gums stick to the scalp causing dandruff; avoid hair dryers/treatments (straightening, perming); dry massage scalp with finger tips to maintain blood circulation; go for a hot oil massage
• Bathe twice a day
• Wear full-sleeved clothes
• Keep the body dry; head for air-conditioned spaces
• Go easy on talc as it cakes with sweat and closes pores. Sweat gets absorbed in the ducts, and this leads to prickly heat