Weather The Fungus Rumpus

Words: Dr Ambika P NAYAK

Monsoon is just round the corner. Ah, that rain song, again — which most of us enjoy, although not all of us would love to get drenched during a downpour. The rains bring nature’s melodies to the fore, water the parched earth, light up our essence of romanticism, with old Bollywood numbers, and the like. This is the good part. The bad part is, there are, unfortunately, nasty microorganisms waiting to ‘prey’ on us.

Most infections that affect our respiratory system and skin make their way into us, while the dormant are awakened, due to a dip in the immune system. This occurs owing to a sudden change in climate, also temperature, and our not-so-adaptive, or ‘all-seasonal’ dietary and lifestyle habits. This also makes our immune system all the more vulnerable.

Common Infection

The most common infection during monsoon is the fungus — tinea and candida variants. They may be called by different names, depending on the parts involved — ringworm on the body [tinea corporis]; web space infections [tinea pedis, or athlete’s foot, a common complaint of athletes; and, the genitals and buttocks [tinea cruris, or jock itch].

These fungal spores are spread in the air; they may also reside on our skin, quietly, waiting for the right opportunity to explode. Normally, our strong immune system keeps such petty infections at bay, but they are always looking for the right kind of moist environment for their growth. Once this happens, you start showing symptoms. Common symptoms of fungal intrusion are an itchy rash, or tickly patches, in the affected area, including scaling of the skin, when the infection is severe. Pain is rare, but it is a possibility when the infection is deeply entrenched.

As we all know, any fungal growth is augmented by moisture, and this is everywhere, especially during the rainy season. In summer, profuse sweat often provides the perfect ‘soil’ for their growth. Diabetes, and certain conventional medications, that suppress the immune system provide the grist for fungal infections to flourish. Most importantly, people who do not follow good hygienic practices are at a risk of being ‘colonised’ by the fungal army.

Self-Help

  • Take a shower, twice daily, especially if you’ve a tendency to sweat profusely
  • Keep a check on the amount of sweets you eat
  • It is imperative for diabetics to follow all regulations with regard to diet, lifestyle and medications and also undergo regular medical check-ups to keep their sugar levels regulated. This will help them to avoid the common complications that are likely to emerge with long-standing diabetes — this will also help to keep fungal infections from the wolf’s door, as it were
  • Keep your underarms, groins, inner thighs, genitals, anal region, web spaces of the fingers and toes, and scalp, relatively free of moisture
  • Wear cotton clothing, and use tissues, or wet wipes
  • Make sure your clothes are properly washed and dried before use
  • Whenever possible keep your shoes and other closed footwear in the open air, or sunlight, to ‘demoisturise’ them from the inside out. Opt for dry footwear. Also, wear a fresh pair of socks each time
  • Take immunity boosters when there is a need and on your physician’s advise
  • Triphala, a combination of three herbs, is a potent preparation against all kinds of infections, including fungus. Triphala guggulu tablets may be taken on your Ayurvedic physician’s recommendation, or triphala powder may be made into a decoction by boiling it with water and used as a washing solution
  • Various anti-fungal Ayurvedic medications are available as ointment and dusting powder. They may be used on a regular basis.

The key factor in the prevention and treatment of fungal infections, or any infection for that matter, is keeping your immune system at its optimal best — that is, firing on all cylinders, as it were, always.

Dr AMBIKA P NAYAK, MD [Ayurveda], is Founder & Managing Director of Ayurvedeeyam, a speciality Ayurveda Clinic in Bengaluru. Her passion for the ancient, yet ‘completest’ natural medical system, and professional clinical skills are keyed to raising awareness for Ayurveda as a first choice of treatment for illness and healthy living, just as much as her axiom, Svasthasya svāsthya rakṣaṇaṃ — the age-old, fundamental principle of Ayurveda. Dr Nayak, who has presented papers and participated in national and international symposia, is also a strong advocate of panchakarma, thanks to its fully holistic and proven therapeutic efficacy in the treatment and prevention of illness, or disease.

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