A recent survey conducted amongst 62 of the region’s leading dermatologists has revealed that there is a high incidence of skin fungal infections across the region, with lack of awareness, hygiene and heat and humidity being the main culprits for the prevalence.
The survey, which was designed by Novartis Consumer Health to gain more insight on the spread of fungal infections across the region and to gauge the levels of public awareness to these ailments, was part of ongoing research for its fungicidal treatment, Lamisil cream and spray which cures skin fungal infections in one to two weeks by killing the fungus.
The Lamisil survey addressed the possible effects that heat and humidity, public awareness, personal hygiene, and lifestyle had on the wide spread of fungal infections in the region.
In particular, the survey shed light on the high incidence of Athlete’s Foot which was ranked as either the first or second most common skin fungal infection by 60% of the dermatologists. With the prevailing heat and humidity conditions, low levels of awareness of skin fungal infections, and poor hygienic practices, 99% of the dermatologists surveyed stated that people living in the Gulf are more prone to catching fungal infections
According to the results, 97% of the dermatologists surveyed agreed that the number of reported cases on Athlete’s Foot significantly increases during the Gulf’s summer months, as the heat and humidity provide the ideal environment for the fungus to grow and multiply.
The Lamisil survey also revealed that 50% of dermatologists believe that people are familiar with the term ‘Athlete’s Foot’ but do not know what it is and another 35% of those surveyed said that most people have never heard of the condition. There was a general consensus that the low level of awareness of the fungal infection encourages its spread and growth.
Almost 40% of those surveyed stated that people in the Gulf do not practice proper foot care, unaware that good foot hygiene can go a long way to prevent the condition. Moreover, more than half of the doctors surveyed revealed that their patients do not realize that many fungal infections are contagious and can be easily spread to others or to other areas in the body.
Athlete’s Foot grows and multiplies on the surface of the skin causing a host of irritations to the feet including an itching burning sensation, blistering and cracking of the affected skin and bad odor. If not treated immediately, the condition can lead to great discomfort and in some cases disfigurement. Those carrying the infection should not ignore it as it can develop into a serious infection and can spread to other parts of the body or infect others.
Despite the importance of corrective treatment to the infection, the Lamisil survey revealed that 63% of dermatologists claim that most people ignore the symptoms of skin fungal infections and do not seek medical advice until the condition is widely spread or becomes very uncomfortable. Further, 31% of the doctors feel that embarrassment is a key factor for people not seeking medical help sooner when faced with such a condition.
Dermatologists discouraged the sharing of towels, socks and shoes with others, and advised on wearing cotton socks with closed shoes, washing feet twice a day and drying them properly, avoid walking barefoot in communal areas and wearing well-ventilated open shoes that allow the feet to breathe.
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )