Health warning: Your bath towel could lead to three unwanted fungal infections

Aspergillosis: Expert explains types of fungal infections

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Family medicine practitioner Melinda Ratini verified that damp towels are a breeding ground for bacteria, yeasts, mold, and viruses. Patting down your skin with a bath towel could lead to a myriad of health issues. For instance, Ratini verified that dirty towels can contribute to “jock itch”.

What’s jock itch?

Jock itch, otherwise known as tinea cruris – as pointed out by the Mayo Clinic – is a fungal infection that mainly affects the groin and inner thighs.

A red and itchy rash, sometimes shaped like a ring, can appear on the skin.

“Jock itch usually begins with a reddened area of skin in the crease in the groin,” the Mayo Clinic pointed out.

The rash tends to spread to the upper thigh in a “half-moon shape” and “a line of small blisters” might emerge.

This type of fungal infection can spread from person to person if they share towels.

Jock itch is usually caused by the same fungus that causes athlete’s foot.

“The infection often spreads from the feet to the groin because the fungus can travel on your hands or on a towel,” the Mayo Clinic added.

If you do have athlete’s foot, dry your feet last to prevent the infection from spreading to the groin area.

Should you already suffer from jock itch, then over-the-counter anti-fungal ointment can clear the infection.

“If you also have athlete’s foot, it’s usually treated at the same time as jock itch to reduce the risk of the rash coming back,” the experts added.

Should the infection not clear with over-the-counter treatment, then prescription-strength creams, ointment, or pills might be needed.

Do speak to your doctor if you need to obtain a prescription for either infection.

Family practitioner Ratini added that – beside jock itch and athlete’s foot – using dirty towels can also lead to a fungal toenail infection.

A fungal nail infection

The NHS explained that a fungal nail infection usually begins at the edge of the toenail.

The toenail then becomes discoloured, thickened and brittle – and pieces can break off.

“This can cause pain and swelling in the skin around the nail,” the NHS added.

Again, such an infection can be treated with anti-fungal ointments, but it can take up to a year to clear the infection completely.

So considering the health risks associated with bath towels, how often should they be cleaned?

Ratini recommends laundering the towel “at least once a week”, making sure that it dries out properly after each use.

In humid weather, or if someone is sick, you are advised to wash the towel more regularly.

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