The Fungus Among Us
The hot temperatures in Southwest Florida attract a lot of people to the area, but health experts say it also attracts fungus.
Dr. Alfred Gitu, a primary care physician with Lee Memorial Health System, says common fungal infections are athlete’s foot, jock itch, and ringworm. “It’s a rash on the skull. It’s a rash on the skin, or on the feet in between the toes. And then it’s itchy, almost always itchy. Some people will notice the itch before the rash.”
He says fungal infections can happen to anyone. The infection is caused by certain types of bacteria that grows on the skin. “We live in south Florida so it’s warm and it’s humid,” said Dr. Gitu. That climate is the breeding ground for fungus.
The most common for adults is athlete’s foot and jock itch. “The commonest ones in children you tend to see more infections of the skull so the ringworm is in the head. A lot of people call tinea ringworm because as it spreads on the skin or in the hair the central part clears but the outside part is raised and it looks almost like there’s a worm underneath the skin,” said Dr. Gitu.
Health experts say there are ways to prevent a fungal infection. Keep your feet clean and dry throughout the day, avoid warm clothing on hot days, and be sure to wear shoes in public places like pools and gyms. “It’s usually from some other source. So it’s possible that you’ve been in contact with somebody who had a similar infection, or even a pet that had a similar infection, also gym equipment is the source of this kind of infection,” said Dr. Gitu.
While some infections can clear on their own, he says most need an antibiotic or cream. “When athlete’s foot or tinea pedis is not treated sometimes it will spread to the nail and if it does then that is almost impossible to treat with the topical treatment,” said Dr. Gitu.
If you have a rash don’t wait before checking with your doctor about getting the right treatment.
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Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.