Texans have been suffering through extreme heat for months, and the hot weather increases the possibility for many health issues including dehydration, skin problems and even fungal infections.

A fungal infection occurs when a fungus infects a certain area of the body, and it can range from very minor to quite severe. Athlete’s foot is the most common fungal infection in humans, affecting an estimated 70 percent of adults.

“This type of fungal infection usually involves the soles of the feet and the skin between the toes,” says Andrea Luce, Pharm.D., assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy. “Infection can occur when these areas are kept moist and warm and become irritated.”

The most common signs of athlete’s foot are dry, flaky, cracked and/or red irritated skin. There also may be itching and burning.

The outdoor heat and humidity can predispose to infection if it causes the feet to stay moist and warm, Dr. Luce says. That’s why it’s important to keep your feet cool, clean and dry.

“It is advised to avoid walking barefoot in areas that are typically associated with development of fungal infections such as locker rooms, swimming pools, the beach or the gym,” Dr. Luce says.

There are various over-the-counter topical medications, as well as prescription-only oral antifungals that treat athlete’s foot. Ask your pharmacist for more details on how to prevent and treat fungal infections.

— Andrew Ramirez