LUCKNOW: Taking over-the-counter drugs for fungal infections could worsen the problem, as these medications often contain steroids that can further hinder the body’s ability to fight off the infection, cautioned medical experts on the third day of the 46th annual conference of the Indian Association of Medical Microbiologists (MICROCON-2023).

Prof Malini R Capoor, from Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi, emphasised that fungal infections are prevalent with nearly everyone experiencing a skin condition called dermatophytosis at some point in their lives. It is an infection of the hair, skin or nails caused by a group of fungi that can invade these tissues. “We frequently encounter patients who seek medication from pharmacies and apply ointments without proper diagnosis. These misdiagnosed cases often result in the prescription of steroid-based creams, which flare up the condition rather than treating it,” Capoor explained.

“In severe cases, patients seek medical attention when itching intensifies and wounds fail to heal,” she said.

She urged individuals with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV, transplant recipients, cancer patients, diabetics and those on long-term steroid therapy, to be extra vigilant for fungal infections.

Prof Sheetal Verma, a faculty member at the microbiology department of King George’s Medical University, stressed on the importance of adhering to the prescribed treatment regimen for fungal infections.