The trouble with monsoons in India is that we can’t live without it and we definitely have some serious trouble living with it. Fungus and mould in our homes, heavy moisture in the air, and multiple skin issues resulting from an unsavory combination of it all.
Monsoon skin problems are troublesome and annoying and we can’t get rid of them fast enough. Sometimes we need to exercise a little precaution and other times we need timely treatment – but the silver lining here is that we can actually get rid of them.
Why do Problems Caused by Monsoons Occur?
According to Dr. Shehla Agarwal, Dermatologist who has been practising for more than 22 years, the overwhelming humidity of the season is the culprit behind many of the common monsoon skin problems that we see.
“We wait for the rain all year to bring us relief from the sweltering heat. But as soon as the weather changes, our body responds as well” she says. “The skin gets coated with a layer of sweat – which is a combination of salt, urea, and lactic acid. When this is mixed with sebum, it becomes an irritant for the skin. That’s the point where all the trouble begins.”
The air quality doesn’t help much either. The seasonal downpours bring along all of the pollutants in the air which are not very good for our overall health and well-being to begin with. However, if you happen to get caught in the downpour yourself, your skin’s natural resistance proves to be no match for the pollutants, making you more susceptible to catching infections.
“It’s the perfect storm for skin infections to surface” says Dr. Shehla. “Once the monsoon arrives, the fungi and the bacteria – which were previously laying dormant in the heat – find the ideal conditions in the moist weather to propagate. The compromised skin is an easy target in this scenario.”
Keeping Infections at Bay – How to Protect our Skin in the Monsoon?
So what’s the best way to protect our skin with this weather? Should we quit while we’re ahead and just call the monsoons a lost cause? Or can we take any steps to keep these skin infections at bay?
“We can certainly take a number of proactive steps to keep our skin safe and protected in this season” says Dr. Shehla. “One of the best ways to begin is by learning as much as we can about what to expect.”
According to Dr. Shehla, one of the best ways to have healthy, clean skin in this weather is to be aware of the various skin infections around, along with the necessary precautions to avoid contracting them. “Fungal infections are stubborn creatures. They’re notoriously resistant to
treatments and medicine – so, year after year, we find ourselves turning back to the old wisdom of ‘prevention is definitely better than cure’ to help our patients keep their infections away.”
Most Common Conditions and Diseases Caused by the Monsoons
Some of the most common skin conditions during the monsoons are caused by surprisingly simple factors such as sweating, body odour, or foot odours. While they may seem harmless on the surface, an excessive amount of sweating or odours can indicate the beginnings of deeper issues.
However, as we mentioned, a few quick precautions and preventive measures go a long way in ensuring that people are able to keep pesky infections away. Below are three of the more common causes and the steps people can take to keep themselves safe.
Sweating – Prickly Heat Problems
The overabundance of humidity in the air takes a toll on our bodies and makes us sweat even more than usual. The trouble with this situation is that once sweating increases, the perspiration mixes with the body oils and the sebum, leading to irritation of the skin.
Since the increased perspiration does not evaporate quickly, this creates the perfect conditions to encourage a growth spurt in the fungi and bacteria.
The resulting infection here is Prickly Heat. If you’ve been sweating excessively, here’s how you can make sure you stay dry and hygienic:
- Shower daily and preferably with an antibacterial soap. After bathing, dry your body folds with a soft towel.
- Apply an antifungal powder in your body folds. Chemical deodorants should be avoided since your sweat mixed with them can cause severe irritation and redness, especially in your armpits. If you must use a deodorant, then use a roll-on.
- Wear loose clothing and choose cotton and linen fabrics as far as possible. These natural fabrics allow air to flow through them easily and help decrease your sweating.
- Stick to lighter coloured clothes as they reflect the sunlight back, whereas, darker clothes absorb it, making you heat up and sweat more.
- Wear a white or light coloured hat when outdoors.
- Exercise regularly but do not equate the sweating to the severity of exercise. You might become dehydrated if you don’t drink enough water.
Body odour is among the common problems caused by monsoons and occurs when the bacteria on your skin comes in contact with your body’s perspiration. Keeping body odour at a minimum is necessary for social graces and for your body’s overall hygiene.
To control your body odour, take the following steps:
- Keep your underarms dry. Bacteria require moisture to grow and cannot breed in dry areas of the body.
- After your shower, towel dry yourself completely and immediately apply talcum powder, especially on the more susceptible areas, i.e. your underarms, feet, and groin.
- Avoid wearing shared clothes, towels, and footwear, especially while you’re at the gym.
- Change your diet and avoid eating fatty foods, refined oils, or strong-smelling foods containing garlic, heavy spices, or onions.
- Wash your workout clothes often.
- Do not wear heavy perfumes during the monsoon season as they cause skin irritation.
Why do we need to pay particular attention to foot hygiene during the monsoons in India? The short answer is that there are over 250,000 sweat glands in our feet – and all of them work extra hard to produce a lot of perspiration, every day.
While sweating is a natural function of the body, it can cause severe distress for those of us who tend to perspire excessively, especially with our feet.
Here are a few simple ways to control your foot odour
- Wear the right shoes. The right footwear, such as open sandals, keep feet breathing and allow the perspiration to evaporate.
- Wash your feet well and then dry them thoroughly.
- Smelly feet can also cause smelly shoes – make sure you regularly keep your shoes out in the sun, since sunshine is the best antiseptic.
- Try this simple home remedy to keep your feet happy – soak your feet in tea for 10 minutes to control the odour. Tannins in the tea help reduce the smell and this remedy can be followed twice a week.