As the temperatures rise and the sun graces us with its warmth, the joys of summer become apparent. However, along with the sunny days and outdoor adventures, there's a less pleasant side to the season that we often overlook: the increased risk of summer fungal infections. While we bask in the glory of summer, certain factors unique to this season can create an environment conducive to the growth and spread of fungi. In this blog post, we'll dive into the world of summer fungal infections, shedding light on the causes, common types, prevention, and natural treatment.
WHAT FACTORS POSE A RISK OF SKIN FUNGAL INFECTION?
Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing a fungal skin infection. These factors include:
Warm and humid environments: Fungi thrive in warm, moist environments. Excessive feet sweating, rubber footwear and tight imitation leather shoes are an ideal environment for fungal growth.
Insufficient foot hygiene: Infrequent bathing, not drying wiping the skin between toes, changing socks too seldom, socks made of artificial fibres, and impermeable footwear can contribute to the growth of fungi on the skin.
Excessive foot hygiene: Feet washed many times a day lose their protective layer (abrasion of the stratum corneum) and become susceptible to infection.
Weakened immune system: A weakened immune system due to conditions like HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cancer, or certain medications (such as corticosteroids or immunosuppressants) can make individuals more susceptible to fungal infections.
Skin-to-skin contact: Direct contact with an infected person or contaminated surfaces can facilitate the transmission of fungal infections, especially in communal environments such as gyms, locker rooms, or swimming pools.
Sharing personal items: Sharing items such as towels, clothing, socks, shoes, or personal grooming tools with someone who has a fungal infection can increase the risk of acquiring the infection.
Wearing tight or non-breathable clothing: Tight-fitting clothing or non-breathable fabrics can create a warm and moist environment that promotes fungal growth on the skin.
Damaged or compromised skin: Skin that is damaged, injured, or compromised by cuts, scrapes, or pre-existing skin conditions (e.g., eczema) is more susceptible to fungal infections.
Prolonged use of antibiotics: Long-term use of antibiotics can disrupt the balance of microorganisms on the skin and increase the risk of fungal overgrowth.
Certain occupations or activities: Certain occupations or activities that involve frequent exposure to water, such as swimmers, athletes, or people working in wet environments, may have a higher risk of fungal skin infections.
SYMPTOMS OF FUNGAL SKIN INFECTION
Symptoms of a fungal skin infection can vary depending on the type of infection and the affected area of the body. Common symptoms include:
Itching: Fungal infections often cause intense itching in the affected area. Scratching the area can lead to further irritation and potential spread of the infection.
Redness: The skin in the infected area may appear red or inflamed. The redness can range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of the infection.
Rash: A fungal infection can lead to the development of a rash. The rash may consist of small bumps, patches, or raised areas on the skin.
Scaling or peeling: The affected skin may become dry, flaky, and start to peel. This symptom is commonly observed in conditions like athlete's foot or ringworm.
Blisters: Some fungal infections can cause the formation of blisters filled with fluid. These blisters may be itchy or painful.
Cracking or fissures: In certain cases, the skin affected by a fungal infection can crack or develop fissures. This can be particularly common in areas like the feet or hands.
Pain or discomfort: Depending on the severity of the infection, pain or discomfort may be present, especially if the skin becomes irritated or damaged.
Odor: Fungal infections in areas with sweat glands, such as the feet or groin, can produce an unpleasant odor.
It's important to note that these symptoms can overlap with other skin conditions, so it's best to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.
WAYS TO CURE FUNGAL SKIN INFECTION
It is necessary to act as soon as you notice worrying symptoms and start the treatment immediately. Here are some natural approaches that you can consider for treating fungal skin infections:
Diet modification: Some foods like sugar and refined carbohydrates can contribute to fungal overgrowth. Consider reducing your intake of these foods and incorporating more probiotic-rich foods into your diet like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha. Do not forget to support healthy gut flora with prebiotic-rich foods like garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus, apple, flax seeds and oats.
Proper hygiene: Keeping the affected area clean and dry is crucial for managing fungal infections. Wash the area with natural mild soap and water, and pat it dry gently. Use socks produced from natural fibers like cotton or wool.
Essential oils: Tea tree, oregano, thyme, clove and lavender oils have antifungal properties and can be applied topically to the affected area after diluting it with a carrier oil. It may help reduce itching and inflammation. Mix 2-3 drops of 2-3 essential oils with a 2 tablespoon of base oil, such as coconut oil. Keep it in the jar in dark and dry place. Apply the mixture 2 times a day until symptoms disappear.
Apple cider vinegar: Diluted apple cider vinegar can be used as a topical solution to help combat fungal infections. Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water and apply it to the affected area using a cotton ball or a clean cloth.
Garlic: Garlic has antifungal properties and can be used both internally and topically. Crush a few garlic cloves and mix them with coconut oil or olive oil to create a paste. Apply the paste to the affected area, cover with a clean cloth, and leave it on for a few hours before rinsing.
Aloe vera: Aloe vera gel has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties that can help relieve itching and irritation. Apply fresh aloe vera gel to the affected area a few times a day.
Turmeric: Turmeric has natural antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Create a paste by mixing turmeric powder with water and apply it to the affected area. Leave it on for 30 minutes before rinsing.
Coconut oil: Coconut oil has antifungal properties and can be applied topically to the affected area. It may help reduce itching and provide some relief.
Saltwater soak: Soaking the affected area in warm saltwater can help relieve itching and cleanse the skin. Dissolve a tablespoon of salt in warm water and soak the affected area for 10-15 minutes.
Before applying any remedies, the feet should be washed thoroughly and the spaces between the toes dried with a paper towel. Paper towel absorbs moisture well and is disposable, preventing the transmission of fungi through a traditional towel. The nails also need to be cleaned of varnish, dead fragments removed and disinfected. Preparations with essential oils should be rubbed very thoroughly into the affected area and nail plates. Also remember that an effective treatment should last several months.
Remember, if your symptoms persist or worsen, it is important to seek professional advice for proper diagnosis and treatment e.g., oral herbal remedies.