Mumbai: One of the every five patients who walks into the clinic is suffering from a fungal infection, of which, 50 per cent patients are becoming resistant to treatment despite being administered over six months. City doctors have noticed a sharp rise in skin infections caused by stubborn fungi, which need a more aggressive and longer course of treatment.
“Primary reasons observed for the increase in the incidence of chronic resistant fungal infections are non-compliance to medication, over or under dosaging, self-medication and rampant adoption of ‘one-stop-solution’ medications,” said doctors.
While the city’s humidity and construction activity makes it easier for the fungi to thrive and spread, doctors say the use of over-the-counter creams and ointments that often contain steroids have contributed to a spurt in infections as well as resistance to them.
Dr Uday Khopkar, dermatologist said they see 50-75 cases of fungal infections every day in the outpatient department (OPD). “Patients typically spend a lot of time trying to treat symptoms with over-the-counter combination creams. Another major problem is an interruption in treatment. Patients stop the treatment midway and the fungi multiply aggressively,” he said.
Dr Rahul Tambe, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine at Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital, Vile Parle said major causes of widespread fungal infections is humidity, followed by hygiene and environmental factors and most importantly, an irresponsible and unprescribed use of anti-fungal medication.
“We are seeing 6-8 patients a month complaining about resistant fungal infections in blood or urine, while the dermatologists are seeing 5-6 such patients on daily basis with skin related fungal infections. Nearly 20-25 per cent of patients in Intensive Care Units (ICU) are diagnosed with such invasive fungal infections,” he said.
“Abuse of anti-fungal medication through unprescribed Over The Counter (OTC) sale is one major cause of the fungus developing resistance against the medication. Any person on unprescribed antifungal medication stops taking medication after initial relief and does not complete the course is bound to develop resistance against that very medication. We as society have to carefully tread in antibiotics abuse to prevent this serious matter of antibiotics resistance,” Dr Tambe added.