11 December 2017

5 ways to protect yourself against fungal infections this summer

Summer sweat can be unpleasant – and it can cause nasty infections. Here are the most common causes of fungal infections and ways to avoid them.


The summer heat can be uncomfortable and make you perspire more than usual, creating the perfect environment for fungal infections.

1.  Public pools and showers

If you're in the habit of using the swimming pool at the gym, or if you like to take a shower after splashing in the ocean, you are more susceptible to athlete’s foot (tinea pedis), a fungal infection that causes redness, itchiness and cracked skin between the toes.

Avoid it: Always wear flip-flops when using public-shower facilities, and make sure the areas between your toes are completely dry.

feet splashing in swimming pool

2. Sweaty socks and shoes

If you wear closed shoes to work or if you work out a lot, you may be exposed to sweaty socks, which creates the perfect environment for athlete’s foot.

Avoid it: Let your feet breathe – go barefoot or wear opened-toed shoes whenever you can. Always put on clean, dry socks, and take off your sweaty gym socks as soon as you've finished exercising.   

girl putting on gym shoes

3. Hot, humid weather

Impetigo is a contagious skin infection that is especially common among children. It causes lesions on the exposed areas of the arms and legs as well as the face. These lesions start out as red patches that develop into blisters. Children are especially more prone to impetigo in summer as the bacteria flourish in warmer conditions.

Avoid it: Keep a close eye on scrapes or insect bites as bacteria can be spread via these wounds. Encourage your children to wash their hands properly, especially after playing outside.

children playing outside

4. Sweaty underwear and clothing

Jock itch, caused by the same fungus that causes athlete’s foot, is an extremely itchy rash that occurs in the crease between the scrotum and thighs, but can spread to other parts of the groin. Jock itch is often picked up at the gym or can spread from your feet to your groin when you pull up your pants. During summer jock itch can become worse as hot, sweaty conditions encourage the fungus to grow.

Avoid it: Wear loose-fitting underwear and always change your underwear between gym sessions. Stick to cotton underwear as synthetic materials can cause more sweating.

guy sniffing underwear

5. Wet swimwear

Sitting around in your wet swimwear all day long in summer makes you more susceptible to vaginal yeast infections, since it creates the perfect condition for fungus to breed.

Avoid it: Always take a change of dry clothes to the beach or pool and change immediately after bathing. 

woman on beach

Image credits: iStock


Ask the Expert

Skin expert

Dr Suretha Kannenberg holds a degree in Medicine and a Masters in Dermatology from the University of Stellenbosch. She is employed as a consultant dermatologist by Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, where she is involved in clinical duties and the training of medical students and dermatology residents. Her areas of interest and research include vitiligo, eczema and acne. She also performs limited private practice work in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town in general and cosmetic dermatology.

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