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Five skin, hair and nail infections to watch out for in the rainy months

Five skin, hair and nail infections to watch out for in the rainy months

With downpours followed by hot and humid days, monsoon is a season primed for fungal growths. In addition to fungal infections inside the body, the rainy months also give rise to infections of the skin, hair and nails.

“Leaving beauty and aesthetics aside for a minute, these fungal infections can grow and become more complicated if we don’t treat them early,” said Dr Archana Nirula, a medical practitioner associated with myUpchar. “The more you try to hide the infection — inside shoes, socks, caps — the worse it becomes.”

Three types of fungus cause infections in the skin, hair and nails, explained Dr Nirula. These are keratinophilic fungi that use the protein keratin to survive; Candida albicans, mostly found on the buttocks of babies, in nails and the skin folds near the nails; and non-keratinophilic fungi, which generally infect toenails that have been damaged by injury.

Here’s a look at the five most common fungal infections of the skin, hair and nails.


A contagious infection, ringworm typically eats the keratin of the skin on the arms and legs but it can affect almost any part of the body. It spreads through direct contact with an infected animal or person. A typical ringworm infection manifests as red circular lesions that look like rings and cause the skin to become dry, itchy and scaly.

In most cases, topical application of anti-fungal creams, gels or sprays and over-the-counter medicines can help to get rid of the infection. Usually, ringworm infection clears up in a few weeks – please visit your doctor if it persists for longer.

Athlete’s foot

As the name suggests, athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection among sportspeople. Caused by the same species as ringworm, the infection starts between the toes and spreads to other parts of the foot. Just like ringworm, it causes itching, cracking and peeling of the skin.

Over-the-counter medications like miconazole and terbinafine can help to treat the infection. Home remedies like applying tea tree oil on the affected area, or dipping your feet in warm salt water can also help soothe the symptoms.

Although it is not a serious condition, Athlete’s foot can become severe and painful if left untreated.

Toenail infection

Onychomycosis causes the nails to become yellow and scaly. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, toenails are more prone to fungal infections than fingernails due to slow growth, reduced blood supply and confinement inside shoes.

Over-the-counter medicines have limited use here. Your doctor may prescribe an oral antifungal medication to treat the infection. Home remedies like topical application of tea tree oil or Vicks Vaporub may help soothe the symptoms.

Tinea capitis

Also called ringworm of the scalp, this condition is more common in children. The condition is characterised by kerion – large painful sores. These can lead to white patches on the scalp and eventually hair loss.

Symptoms of the disease include redness, swelling, scale formation and hair loss.

Tinea capitis can be treated using systemic antifungal medicines like griseofulvin and itraconazole. Doctors may also prescribe medicated shampoos to prevent the spread of the fungus.

If not treated, the infection may become severe, causing inflammation and permanent hair loss.

Jock itch

An infection of the groin, it is more common in men. Symptoms include rashes which may spread to the thighs, buttocks, and groin; and itching that can make the skin flaky and scaly.

Topical application of antifungals like Naftifine, ciclopirox and miconazole can help.

Just like toenail fungus, jock itch has a tendency to recur. Wearing loose clothes, regular cleansing of the body, keeping body folds dry are some simple ways to avoid infection.

Although jock itch, like the other fungal infections described here, is not serious – you should visit a doctor in case the rashes become worse.

“There’s no magic solution. Keep your skin dry. If you get wet in the rain, change your clothes immediately,” advised Dr Nirula. “And we all know the importance of wearing fresh socks and underwear every day. So long as we follow these simple rules, we should all have a happy monsoon,” she added.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. To know more on this topic, please visit https://www.myupchar.com/en/disease/fungal-infections

The information provided here is intended to provide free education about certain medical conditions and certain possible treatment. It is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis, treatment, and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. If you believe you, your child or someone you know suffers from the conditions described herein, please see your health care provider immediately. Do not attempt to treat yourself, your child, or anyone else without proper medical supervision. You acknowledge and agree that neither myUpchar nor firstpost is liable for any loss or damage which may be incurred by you as a result of the information provided here, or as a result of any reliance placed by you on the completeness, accuracy or existence of any information provided herein.

Updated Date: Sep 05, 2019 13:00:10 IST

Tags :

Athlete’S Foot,

Fungal Infection Do’s And Don’ts,

Fungal Infections,

Fungal Infections Of The Skin,

Hair And Nails,

Jock Itch,



Ringworm Symptoms,

Tinea Capitis,

Toenail Infection