Fungal infections can arise from multiple factors. Environmental exposure to high fungal concentrations, such as in damp areas, can contribute to infection. Neutropenia, characterized by low neutrophil levels, weakens the body’s defense against fungi. Representational Image/By Arrangement
Fungal infections – they may not be the first thing that comes to mind when discussing common health concerns, but these microscopic organisms can wreak havoc on our bodies. From irritating skin conditions to potentially life-threatening respiratory infections, fungal infections come in various forms and affect millions of people worldwide. But what exactly are fungal infections, and why are they more prevalent during the monsoon season?
What are fungal infections?
Fungal infections encompass a range of infections resulting from fungal organisms. They manifest in diverse forms, such as Candidiasis affecting the skin, mouth, and genitals, Onychomycosis causing nail infections, and aspergillosis targeting the lungs. Tinea infections, commonly known as ringworm, are another prevalent fungal infection. Additionally, there are more severe conditions like Histoplasmosis, a respiratory infection, and the rare but grave Mucormycosis. Individuals with compromised immune systems are particularly susceptible to Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP). These various fungal infections highlight the diversity and potential severity of these conditions, emphasizing the importance of early detection, proper treatment, and maintaining a healthy immune system.
Why are we prone more to fungal infections in monsoons?
As the monsoon season arrives, our susceptibility to fungal infections seems to increase. But why?The high levels of moisture in the air during the monsoon season provide optimal conditions for fungi to grow and spread.
Fungi thrive in warm and moist environments, and the combination of rain and humidity creates a dampness that encourages their growth. Additionally, damp clothes, shoes, and surroundings become breeding grounds for fungi, increasing the risk of infection. Poor ventilation in homes and the inability to keep oneself completely dry in the rainy season further contribute to the higher susceptibility to fungal infections.
What are the causes of fungal infections?
Fungal infections can arise from multiple factors. Environmental exposure to high fungal concentrations, such as in damp areas, can contribute to infection. Neutropenia, characterized by low neutrophil levels, weakens the body’s defense against fungi.
Moist and humid climates provide favorable conditions for fungal growth. Wearing synthetic clothing and excessive sweating create a warm and moist environment, promoting fungal colonization. Individuals with compromised immune systems, like HIV and chemotherapy patients, face heightened susceptibility to fungal infections. Prolonged use of systemic antibiotics disrupts the body’s natural balance, enabling fungal overgrowth. Transplant recipients and those using proton pump inhibitors for gastroesophageal reflux disease are also at increased risk, as stomach acidity reduction can facilitate intestinal candidiasis.
How can we prevent them?
To prevent various infections and maintain good hygiene, follow these precautions:
1. Change socks regularly and wash feet: This prevents bacterial and fungal growth. Avoid plastic shoes, as they promote sweating and create a damp environment.
2. Avoid walking barefoot in wet places: Moisture increases the risk of infections, such as athlete’s foot. Wear appropriate footwear to protect your feet.
3. Cut nails straight across: This reduces the chances of ingrown nails, which can lead to infections.
4. Wash hands frequently: Especially after contact with animals or people, handwashing prevents the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses.
5. Avoid sharing personal care products and towels: Sharing can transfer bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens. Use your own hygiene items to maintain cleanliness.
6. Keep skin clean and dry: Pay attention to skin folds, as they can become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. Regularly clean and dry these areas thoroughly.
By following these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of infections and maintain good personal hygiene.
Fungal infections are commonly treated with antifungal drugs like clotrimazole, miconazole, terbinafine, fluconazole, ketoconazole, and amphotericin B. These medications play a crucial role in eliminating the fungus and providing relief from symptoms. The choice of drug is determined by the type and severity of the infection, with doctor’s prescribing the most suitable option. Adhering to the instructions regarding dosage and treatment duration is essential for effective outcomes. By targeting the underlying fungal infection, antifungal medications aid in combating the growth and spread of the fungus, promoting healing and restoration of affected tissues.
— Dr. J Harikishan, Senior General Physician, Kamineni Hospitals, LB Nagar, Hyderabad