While the monsoon season offers much-needed relief from the scorching summer heat, the rainy season also brings with it several infections and illnesses. Fungal infections, for instance, are common at this time.

Four common misconceptions about fungal infections that you need to know:

Myth 1: Home remedies and self-medication are enough to treat such skin conditions

Fact: With fungal infections becoming hard-to-treat, appropriate and timely treatment solutions are necessary.[i] Commenting on this Dr. Shiv Yogi, Dermatologist, Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Skin and Cosmetology, Bangalore said, “With India’s warm and humid climate, fungal infections are becoming increasingly common in the country. As people try to address these infections, there has been an increase in self-medication, and non-adherence to anti-fungal medication. It’s important that people see their doctor for timely medication and information on lifestyle measures which are key to tackling fungal infections properly.”

Don’t rely only on home remedies and self-medication. If you have an itchy fungal infection, consult a doctor first.

Myth 2: Once your infection starts disappearing, you can stop treatment

Debunking this myth, Dr. Ashwini Pawar, Medical Affairs Director at Abbott India said, “We believe it’s vital to support better health with proper science-based solutions. To effectively treat fungal infections, people should properly follow their antifungal treatment plan. This includes completing the entire course of medication, which is vital even if symptoms begin disappearing at an earlier stage. Adherence to treatment can help properly eliminate the infection, helping people protect their health and lead healthier, hassle-free lives.”

Myth 3: Fungal infections occur only in the summer

Fact: In a tropical country like India, beyond the summer months, monsoons – with the accompanying humidity and dampness – attract a rising number of fungal infections.

Also, the country’s climate diversity (such as closeness and distance from the sea) leads to regional variations in types of infections. A specific species of fungus, T. mentagrophytes, which is responsible for tinea or ringworm, is more commonly found in humid conditions in coastal cities like Mumbai and Kolkata.[ii] Meanwhile, other infections that cause athlete’s foot, jock itch and ringworm (T. rubrum) are more common in non-coastal regions like Delhi, Lucknow, and Hyderabad.[iii]

Myth 4: Only children get fungal infections

Fact: People of all ages are susceptible to fungal infections. Higher rates of infection are typically observed in those between 11 and 40 years of age.[iv]

More so, infections are also observed more commonly amongst males in India, who are nearly two times more likely to be affected than females.[v] This is potentially due to increased physical activity in young males, which can result in increased sweating. The lower incidence amongst women may be attributed to them being hesitant to consult physicians. However, these boundaries are getting increasingly blurred with the rising incidence of such infections across groups including women and children.

From ringworm (which is a rash caused by a fungal infection) to athlete’s foot (which gives an itchy, scaly rash) and jock itch (red and itchy rash which can be ring-shaped), chances are you’ve observed some of these – given that they affect as high as 61.5% of India’s population.[vi] Such infections are commonly referred to as dermatophytosis. This is when dermatophytes, which are a group of fungi that require keratin to grow, affect a person’s hair, skin or nails.[vii] They thrive in humid, moist environments and spread fast in various ways – through person-to-person contact, shared towels or objects like combs or brushes, showers at public pools, and heavy exercise related sweating.

Humidity creates a breeding ground for fungi and bacteria to thrive and so skin-related complaints become increasingly common. Poor hygiene and overcrowded areas can also contribute to further spread. While these fungal infections are highly prevalent during the monsoons, there are many myths around them. It’s important to bust these myths and know how to prevent, identify, and treat them.

The incidence of fungal infections is growing, and it’s crucial to take steps to protect yourself. This includes practicing good hygiene and seeking medical attention promptly if you suspect you may have a fungal infection. By staying informed and taking proactive measures, we can all do our part to prevent the spread of these infections and keep ourselves and our communities healthy.