Healthy Living Battles Skin Fungus
The skin is the largest living organ in our bodies and it is continuously exposed to every environment. The skin is very vulnerable to infections as it is exposed to public surfaces, where other people directly contact. This puts us at a risk for contracting bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. Should you visit a doctor or treat at home? That’s what we find out in tonight’s healthy living.
Marleni Cuellar, Reporting
For many us when we have a small skin irritation, we visit a pharmacy and buy some over the counter ointment and treat it at home. Skin infections don’t seem to be serious enough to warrant a doctor’s visit but, this practice of self-treating can cause more harm than good especially in the case of fungal infections.
Dr. Jorge Lopez Granja, Dermatologist
“Fungal infections are infections caused by fungi and can occur anywhere and everywhere you can soil in animals and those are sources for humans actually infected. Fungal infections usually affect any part of the body that has glabrous skin so, for example, you can have on the hands, the scalp on the face, any part of the skin that is moist humid because that’s the environment where fungus could grow. What I find is that lots of people coming to my office and say they have a ringworm, like that’s the classic one. But there are many skin conditions would have this round configuration and not necessarily they have to do with fungal infections. Usually fungal infection they are round or they start small and keep on growing but it’s not the only thing that will cause a picture like that. I see a lot of children with the fungal infection on the scalp that is still being treated only with topical medications. So a message I would really like to give is that whenever a physician or parents suspect a fungal infection of the scalp the best thing they can do is to come to a dermatologist for him/her to properly diagnose and properly treat the fungal infection. It’s actually not a trivial function because at times depending on the type of fungus affecting the scalp, it can lead to very painful manifestation and even scarring in terms of no more hair would grow wherever the fungal was there.”
This is why Dr. Lopez strongly urges that you find out the cause of your skin irritation especially before you start to apply the common ointments and creams like hydrocortisone and triple antibiotic.
Dr. Jorge Lopez Granja
“What I find is that when you go the pharmacy, which is common practice and they think it’s a ringworm and they give you medication sometimes that medication would make the problem worse. And it’s a little bit complicated because say they give you hydrocortisone for example. The thing is hydrocortisone is an anti-inflammatory medication so you would feel less itching if it’s itching so you think it’s working. then you stop and the moment you stop you usually have a rebound infection. So if it’s a fungal infection it will grow bigger – like overnight. Then because it was working hen you continue with the cream and you think it wasn’t long enough. So in a nutshell, you would make the problem worse. If you would like to use over-the-counters, my advice would be that whenever you have something that itches on your skin, maybe the safest way to deal with it would be to use an anti-fungal. And if that’s not helping after two to three days, then I would recommend that you come and see your dermatologist. But I would discourage greatly the practice of if something itches start using a steroid cream like hydrocortisone or betamethasone or the famous of the dermas – derma X-number. Those are really common. But as a rule of thumb, we then to void any antibiotic that has neomycin. Yes, that’s the most common. Why because in certain people neomycin may cause a burn, contact dermatitis we call it. So it makes the problem worse so we usually never use triple antibiotic ointment or like that.”
Fungal infections can become serious and lead to further complications. As for prevention, it’s important to note that fungal infections are contagious. Some basic prevention tips include: keeping skin clean and dry, using flip-flops in public showers, using powder, sunning your shoes, and most importantly”
Dr. Jorge Lopez Granja
“Basically avoid self-treating and try to see a doctor before you get any treatment.”