Awareness Levels are critically low warn doctors in the UAE
Doctors have issued warnings that communal washing facilities used before prayers and low levels of awareness are the number one cause of Tenia pedis, more commonly known as athlete’s foot, in the United Arab Emirates.
“On average I see five patients a day who suffer from athlete’s foot in the UAE – a number much greater than I ever saw whilst practising in the United States. Awareness levels related to the ailment in the UAE are very low. When we conduct campaigns on foot health, people continually approach us stating that they have the common symptoms of athlete’s foot but are unaware of what condition they are suffering from,” said Dr. Sami Tabeeb, a Dubai based Podiatrist.
The condition, caused by a fungal infection of the skin on the foot, is prevalent across the region, attributed in part to the high temperatures and soaring humidity, but also due to wearing closed shoes and improper drying after contact with water, in particular after ablution (washing before prayers), experts warned.
“Our estimates after administering a questionnaire on more than 20,000 people in the last year tell us that approximately 40 per cent of those who are suffering from the symptoms, are unaware that the condition they are suffering from is athlete’s foot,” said George Wagih, the brand manager of Lamisil, part of Novartis Consumer Health division.
Lamisil, the leading athlete’s foot treatment on the market, now plans to extend its athlete’s foot awareness campaign to target mall ablution areas, fitness clubs, public swimming pool areas, changing rooms of sports clubs, and public showers. Posters have already been placed in the ablution rooms of more than 500 mosques across Dubai and with the backing from the Ministry of Health, are now looking to extend the campaign to target the mosques in both Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
“We ran a campaign along with the Awqaf and Islamic Affairs department in Dubai to ensure people were aware of the importance of drying thoroughly after ablution. Ablution, the ritual of washing five times a day before prayers, is meant to keep you clean, but only if you remember to dry properly. By walking barefoot in public ablutions areas without drying off with a clean towel, worshippers can easily pick up and spread foot fungal infections,” said Mr. Wagih.
A study conducted in eight mosques in the Durban area of South Africa, found that the prevalence of tinea pedis in the adult Muslim male population regularly attending mosques was 81% per cent compared with the non-Muslim males, which registered a prevalence of 41 per cent.
Do you Have Athlete’s Foot?
• Severe itching between toes (usually between the third, fourth and fifth toes)
• Peeling or scaling, appearance of sores and cracking in the skin of the foot.
• Redness, inflammation and painful stinging where it itches.
• Avoid walking barefoot in the public wash areas and thoroughly towel-dry your feet.
• Wear a different pair of shoes every day to allow your shoes to air and dry out.
• Avoid shoes or sandals made from synthetic materials. Cotton socks and leather or breathable shoes allow proper ventilation.
• Diabetics must regularly examine and take special care of their feet as they are much more vulnerable to foot infections.