During monsoon, among other infections, certain skin diseases also spike. The hot and humid climate encourages fungal, viral and bacterial infections of the skin. Patients who have allergies also have a tough time during this season as eczemas (dermatitis) and urticaria (hives) see flare-ups too.
“During the season, I see 80-90 per cent rise in patients coming in with allergies, eczemas and fungal infections; cases of insect bites also are frequent. A lot of children suffering from aggravated Atopic Dermatitis and viral infections also frequent the OPD,” says Dr Smriti Naswa Singh, consultant dermatologist and cosmetic dermatologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund.
Fungal infections are commonly known as ‘ringworm/daad/daadar/daraaj’, and are transmitted through fomites (objects or materials which are likely to carry infection), such as public toilets, shared towels, utensils. Once acquired, the infection can spread through fingernails, as patients tend to scratch the infected area.
— Athlete’s Foot, a fungal infection, commonly affects webbed spaces of the toes and presents as whitish scaly patches. This is caused due to closed footwear and socks worn while wading through rains. One should instead opt for open chappals or sandals which can be changed after reaching home or office.
Other common sites for fungal infections during monsoons is the groin area, inner area of thighs, and body folds like armpits. This makes the patient itch a lot, which can lead to secondary infection of the nails leading them to become discoloured (yellowish-green) and brittle.
Ways to prevent fungal infection
*Wear open footwear
*Change out of wet clothes, socks and undergarments as soon as possible
*Use anti-fungal dusting powder after bathing, before wearing socks and in evenings before going to bed
*Avoid itching and scratching
— Acne breakouts are also common in the season not just amongst those with dry skin but also people with oily skin type. “Usually, when cosmetics are applied on the face to reduce its oiliness, acne break out happens. Overzealous scrubbing to remove blackheads also leads to irritated, red and inflamed skin. People with oily skin should consult a dermatologist when choosing cleanser, sunscreen, anti-pimple medication and moisturisers. In case of acne breakouts, prompt treatment is necessary to prevent spotting and scarring. Blackheads are actually the initiation of pimples; scrubbing removes them temporarily only to reappear. Fortnightly or monthly chemical peels are better to treat acne,” shares Dr Singh.
Ways to prevent breakouts
*Gently cleanse your face with medicated skin cleansers prescribed by a dermatologist 2-3 times in a day. Rest of the day, wash your face wash with plain water.
*An alcohol-based toner should be used after face cleansing. This should be followed by application of sunscreen in daytime and moisturizer in the evenings.
*Mild uniform bead scrub can be used twice-thrice a week.
— Eczema or dermatitis, commonly known as ‘khaaj’, sees a steep flare-up in rainy season. Humidity and changing temperatures takes a toll on the already disturbed skin barrier of eczema patients. Invariable scratching can damage the skin, leading to bleeding, aggravated itching and secondary bacterial infection. A dermatologist can treat eczema by prescribing medication like steroids, Topical Immunomodulators (Tacrolimus/ Pimecrolimus) and medicated non-cosmetic moisturisers. Children are affected by this too, and across the globe, childhood eczema affects 18-21 per cent children. The season also sees an increased incidence of Atopic Dermatitis and nappy/ diaper rash.
Ways to prevent eczema flare ups
A well moisturised skin is a healthy skin. Lotion-based moisturisers are better than cream-based ones in this season. One should refrain from using cosmetic moisturisers available OTC, as the fragrance and colouring agents are the common causes of aggravation of allergies. One should ask their dermatologist for an apt moisturiser depending on their skin type.
*Staying away from known allergens like dust, dirt, pollens and animal fur
*Sweating aggravates itching in patients with eczema; keeping dry, bathing twice, wear loose cotton clothing
Insect bites and stings are common during monsoons. Their bites can cause distress ranging from a single red itchy bump to the very severe urticaria-angioedema in allergic patients. Therefore, one should immediately consult a dermatologist in case any experience the same.
“Patients with known allergies might need anti-histamines and steroids; while diabetics and those on long term immune-suppressive diseases like arthritis run a risk of enhanced infections. These infections become difficult to treat if the diabetes is not under control. Such patients with multiple medical issues should never take skin allergies, stings/bites, fungal, viral and bacterial infections lightly,” says Dr Singh.