Fungal infections - don't let them spoil the fun!

The word fungus sounds gross and unpleasant to most of us. What is more, we may feel embarrassed talking about it, as we wrongly associate it with the lack of hygiene. In fact, it is very useful for a traveler to know about it, since, on our way to the place of our dreamlike vacation, we will have to visit many of other more prosaic places, like airports, hotels and bus stations. As it turns out, fungi are everywhere -- in the air, dust and soil. Logically, if you do not want them to spoil the fun, learn how to fight them.

Skin rashes do not get the infamy they deserve. As a rule, travelers possess much more information about malaria and tuberculosis, and what we feel towards them is not only respect, it is a kind of awe. However, why should we bother ourselves thinking of such minor 'danger' as fungus?

Unfortunately (or perhaps it is fortunately), you are much more likely to catch a minor, annoying parasite, a rash, or an infection than you are to encounter one of the really bad boys of the disease world. Fungal infections are some of the most common skin problems travelers will encounter. Fungal infections can occur anywhere, not only in the tropics or high school locker rooms. Fungi tend to thrive in warm, moist environments, and many strains do exceptionally well on a human skin. The rash will appear to be a pale area, surrounded by a slightly puffy, reddish border.

There are several kinds of fungal infections. Tinea is a type of fungal infection of the hair, skin, or nails. When it is on the skin, tinea usually begins as a small, the size of a pea, red area. As it grows, it spreads out in a circle or ring. Tinea is often called ringworm because it may look like tiny worms are under the skin (but certainly, they are not!). Since the fungi that cause tinea (ringworm) lives on different parts of the body, they are named for the part of the body they infect. Scalp ringworm is found on the head, and body ringworm affects the arms, legs, or chest.

Athlete's foot (foot fungal) is another type of fungal infection that usually appears between the toes, it can also affect toenails and the bottom or sides of the feet.  Fungal nail infections are most often seen on adults. They often follow fungal infection of the feet. Fungal nail infections may be difficult to treat and may often recur. Toenails are affected more often than fingernails. People, who are frequent visitors of public swimming pools, gyms or shower rooms -- and people, who perspire a great deal -- commonly have mold-like infections, since the fungi that cause them thrive in warm, moist areas. The risk of getting a fungal infection is increased by closed-in footwear, a prolonged moist skin, and minor skin or nail injuries.

Jock itch is a fungal infection of the groin and upper thighs. You might think only men and boys have it, however, girls and women can also get it.

As for a fungal treatment, it is much easier than it may seem to you, when you are running around and cannot stand or sit still due to the itching.  The solution to cure up fungal infections is fairly straightforward. A clotrimazole preparation (brand name is Lotrimin in the U.S.) should be applied several times a day after washing. Avoid scratching the rash, since bacteria do quite well in the already-compromised area of a fungal infection. A bacterial infection is an altogether nastier situation, requiring antibiotics.  The difficulty in treating foot fungal is that concentrating the drug into the heavy keratin of the toe-nail takes a while. A tablet disperses into the whole body via the arterial blood supply and toe-nails have little on the way of this sort of supply. Thus, the length of treatment is very important here.

Before treating fungal nails, be sure you really have them. If you do, you should no longer let them spoil your life.

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