The role of fungi in the environment is as important as any other microorganism. As we are surrounded by varied kinds of fungi, each playing a role in the decomposition of dead animals and plants, some types can cause harm to the human body. The skin on our bodies, particularly, can easily get infected due to prolonged exposure to a certain fungus. This can be a major cause of concern for senior citizens because fungal skin infections can severely affect their hands, feet, etc., if not caught in time. Age-related changes can increase the risk of fungal skin diseases in cases where proper skincare is not included in the daily routine. Mentioned below are some of the common types of fungal infections found in the elderly:
1. Common Fungal Skin Infections
• Cutaneous Candidiasis - One of the common types of fungal skin infections in senior citizens who suffer from diabetes is this cutaneous candidiasis. The Candida fungus is present in between the folds of the human body and an overgrowth of this microorganism can lead to this fungal skin disease. Patients suffering from such a fungal skin infection exhibit symptoms like a rash that causes redness in the folds of their bodies. Although it is not a communicable disease, seniors with a weak immune system can get infected by touching a person who is suffering from it.
• Ringworm - A scaly rash with a border around it is the general definition used for describing ringworm. Tinea manuum is the clinical term for ringworm that develops on the hands while tenia pedis (Athlete’s foot) is the name given to ringworm found on the feet. This fungal skin infection in the hands and feet is communicable in nature. So, if an elderly person touches objects or persons where the fungus is present, then they can ringworm easily. Also, it can spread through animals such as dogs, horses, cats, cows, etc.
• Onychomycosis - This fungal skin infection is primarily found on the nails of an elderly person. While there are several fungi involved in this disease, dermatophytes are the common cause behind it. The symptoms of this fungal skin infection are primarily on the fingernails and toenails of the patient that experience discolouration, thickening, and separation from the nail bed.
2. Causes of Fungal Skin Infections
Personal hygiene plays a big role in developing any fungal skin infection. Due to this reason, taking a shower is highly recommended to the elderly. Individuals who have severe medical conditions and cannot perform daily tasks on their own should consider taking home care nursing services. This will ensure that they are well taken care of every day. Among other causes of fungal skin infections in senior citizens is the presence of other diseases.
Diabetes, insulin resistance, and other common medical conditions can make the elderly more vulnerable to fungal skin diseases. Immuno-suppressants and certain steroids can be observed risk factors of fungal skin infections for seniors. Moreover, some elderly persons have a family history that leads to the development of an infection. Consulting an experienced dermatologist with expertise in the treatment of fungal skin diseases can is advised.
3. Home Remedies and Treatment
There are several home remedies for fighting fungal skin infections in our country found in ancient scriptures. Most of these solutions have been passed on in families for generations:
• Garlic - Topical usage of garlic on the infected area is said to improve the rash or redness caused by a fungal skin infection. This can be done by making a paste of garlic cloves with olive/coconut oil and applying it to the skin for a couple of hours.
• Apple Cider Vinegar - One of the most viral items on the internet these days is ACV or apple cider vinegar. Not only does it help in fighting bacteria and fungi present inside the body but also treats fungal skin diseases. Soaking a cotton pad with a good quality apple cider vinegar and applying it on affected skin can do wonders.
• Aloe Vera - Another treasure that our Indian home remedies for fungal skin infections have for the elderly is the antiseptic plant, aloe vera. Taking out the flesh from the plant and using it on your skin can provide a lot of relief from constant itching and irritation. Daily use of this organic product is recommended for quick results.
• Turmeric - Available in every household, turmeric is reputed to have anti-inflammatory properties that can heal the skin in a very short span of time. Patients are recommended to apply it by mixing with water, rose water or even coconut oil.
Besides these remedies, getting allopathic or homoeopathic treatment from an experienced dermatologist is suggested. The medical history of elderly patients should be mentioned to the specialist so that appropriate medications and topical creams and provided.
At Emoha, our focus is not making life better for our elders, be it healthcare assistance, routine work or community engagement. For us, it is always #EldersFirst