Skin conditions are a challenge, more so in summer

Many South Africans suffer from skin ailments.
Many South Africans suffer from skin ailments.

Ntando Ngcobo isn't one of those people who enjoy hot weather. With summer fast approaching, her main worry is her skin because it is susceptible to sunburn. She says at this time of the year, she buys more sunscreen, wears cool long sleeves or protective clothing, and sunglasses to shield her sensitive eyes.

"It's normal for me to suffer from sunburn after exposing myself to the sun because my skin is extremely pale. Because of that my doctor told me that I have greater chances of developing skin cancer if I don't take care of my skin. That is why I always have sunscreen in my handbag."

It is more common

According to a study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, "skin diseases are ranked as the fourth most common cause of human illness, resulting in an enormous non-fatal burden. Despite this, many affected people do not consult a physician."

Dr Alexander Zink, an author of the study, says: "Skin diseases might be more prevalent than previously thought. Considering their significant impact on individual, family, and social life as well as their heavy economic burden caused by inadequate self- or non-physician treatment, the public health importance of skin diseases is underappreciated."

Other skin ailments

Mandisa Mazibuko's skin on her hands and feet has been peeling since August. Mazibuko told OurHealth that she thought it was caused by the soap she was using, so she changed to a different one, but her skin problem didn't go away.

"I don’t know what to do now because I have tried to moisturise it with petroleum jelly, margarine, even candle wax, but nothing works," says Mazibuko.

"I don't have money to go to the pharmacist and buy medication to treat my skin, and at the clinic I was given MC Gel ointment which didn’t help me at all. I'm [considering] seeing a local traditional healer; maybe I might get help from him," she says.

Ntando Cele says she recently experienced a yeast infection which she thought was natural for someone her weight.

"I went to the doctor after experiencing swelling, intense skin itching, and irritation. That’s how I found out I have a yeast infection. It affects the skin areas beneath my breast, between my thighs, underarm and the belly folds. These are the areas that don’t dry quickly after taking a shower," she says.

Cele says there isn't much to be done except for taking extra care of her skin. "Now I try to dry myself thoroughly," she says.

Ziba Mthethwa says he has been suffering from athlete's foot since June.

"I thought it was going end, but since spring started, I noticed it getting worse," he says. "I have tried many homemade [remedies] such as sprinkling ashes, lemon leaves, teabags and wearing sandals more often when I am home, but nothing has worked. I am now considering seeing a pharmacist and explaining my condition; maybe he will give me something to treat it because I can’t afford to see a dermatologist at the moment."

Dermatologist Dr Sandile Kubheka confirms that some skin conditions are caused by the changing of the seasons, but they only appear at certain times and stop soon afterwards.

"Some disappear on their own and some after treatment. That is why it is so important to seek help if you notice something unfamiliar on your skin. If you don't, it can lead to serious damage and unnecessary marks. It is also important to dry your skin methodically after a bath. I would also advise washing your body two times a day to avoid odour and skin rash."

According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), "South Africa has one of the highest monitored ultraviolet (UV) levels in the world. The country also has the second-highest incidence of skin cancer in the world after Australia."

For others whose job keeps them in the sun, such as street vendors or truck drivers, should also be careful of UV radiation, the organisation says. They also recommend that people be sun-smart by using an effective sunscreen, applying it correctly, wearing protective clothing, and protect and educate children about taking care of their skin.

– Health-e News

Image credit: iStock

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