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Self-Care

Eliminate Fungal Infections


Summertime humidity creates a breeding ground for fungal infections, which means unfortunately, there's a chance you may develop one whether you're at the beach, pool, gym, camp or even hanging around the house.

"Summer heat and humidity brings excess moisture and sweating to our bodies, creating the perfect setting for fungi to grow or fungal infections to develop," says dermatologist Guy Webster, M.D., associate professor and director for Cutaneous Pharmacology at Thomas Jefferson University. "Fungi tend to thrive in warm, moist places, such as between the toes, in the groin, under the breasts and other parts of the body."

One of every five persons gets a fungal infection at some time.

Contrary to popular belief, walking barefoot in places like public showers, swimming pools and locker are not the main causes of athletes foot, but they can be contributing factors.

"Sweaty feet, not drying feet well after swimming or bathing, tight shoes and socks which offer no ventilation, and a warm climate present the perfect setting for the fungus that causes athlete's foot to grow," notes Ronald Lepow, D.P.M., president-elect of the American Podiatric Medical Association.

Athlete's foot may affect different people in different ways. Symptoms may include cracked, blistered and peeling areas between the toes, redness and scaling on the soles and intense itching. Athlete's foot may spread to other parts of the foot, including toenails. The fungal infection can also extend to other parts of the body, notably the groin (commonly referred to as jock itch) and underarms, by those who scratch the infection and then touch themselves elsewhere.

While it may not be easy to prevent athlete's foot and other fungal infections, both doctors say you can take steps to lesson your chances of infection by following some simple rules:

  • Wash your feet daily.
  • Dry your feet thoroughly, especially in between your toes.
  • Avoid tight footwear, especially in the summer. Sandals are the best warm weather footwear.
  • Wear cotton socks and change them daily or more frequently if they become damp. Don't wear socks made of synthetic materials.
  • If possible, go barefoot at home.
  • Dust an antifungal powder into your shoes in the summertime.

Proper treatment of fungal infection depends on the right diagnosis, which makes going to a physician so important, stressed Dr. Lepow. Before treating what you think may be athlete's foot or some other fungal infection, he advises to check with your podiatrist or dermatologist, who can diagnose the condition and prescribe the correct course of treatment.

For more information visit the American Academy of Dermatology Website at http://www.aad.ord.

Copyright 1999 Health Resources Publishing


© 2000 Health Resources Publishing