Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Itchy Skin? Itchy Scalp?

The term "Tinea" is used for most fungal skin infections, these are also known as ringworm (on the body, limbs or scalp), athlete's foot and jock itch (in the groin). A fungus is a microscopic organism distantly related to plants. Some fungi can grow on the body commonly affected areas include the skin, scalp, feet, the fingernails, and toenails, and also the moist linings in the mouth and vagina. The fungi that causes tinea make the skin become red, warm, moist environment to grow well, so they rapidly settle into warm sweaty skin, particularly that between the toes and in the groin. On other areas of the skin tinea may appear as a red patch with a clearer center, or on the scalp as an inflamed, swollen patch, possibly with some loss of hair (more common on children).

Fungi can be caught from animals (and pets), soil or other people (usually via infected surfaces, such as shower basins or bathrooms floors). These fungi can live undetected on your body for some months before they multiply enough to cause redness or soreness.

Some useful tips to prevent tinea or skin fungi:

* Keeping your skin as clean as dry as possible, shower or bathe daily, dry thoroughly between your toes and skin folds. Use a hair dryer if necessary.
* Wearing socks and loose clothing made from fibers that draw moisture away from the skin, such as wool, cotton or the newer synthetic fibers.
* Washing the shower and bath using a bleach based product every a couple of days.
* Washing socks, towels, bathmats and underpants in very hot water (over 60 C) and drying them well.
* Regularly washing floors (with very hot water and soap) where you walk in bare feet.
* Not sharing towels and clothing
* Using anti fungal creams, lotions or sprays from the pharmacy or as prescribed by doctors.


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