Avoiding Skin Diseases During the Rainy Season
The best way to avoid skin diseases in the rainy season? Keep dry. That is the advice of Bangkok Hospital Hua Hin dermatologist Dr Chanachai “Chuck” Memark.
Although said tongue-in-cheek, the advice is sound: if you are able to keep dry during the rainy season, certain skin diseases are less likely to occur. Dr Memark is an American Board of Dermatology board-certified dermatologist, a distinction he earned “almost 50 years ago”. Having lived in Chicago for the last 49 years and a diehard baseball and Cubs fan, he returned to Thailand to retire, although he is currently working four and half days a week at the hospital. During the rainy season, areas to be especially aware of are folding areas on our body – under the breast, between fatty layers, under the arms, and between the toes. Bacteria thrive in this sort of environment. Another challenge with fungal infections is they always come back. People wear the same shoes, use the same bathroom or shower, and continue to reinfect themselves as fungal infections are contagious. When the rains come, so do the mosquitos. While mosquitos don’t necessarily spread skin diseases, they do make us scratch our skin, which provides a window for bacteria to get in. People often forget when rain clouds are overhead that Ultraviolet light (UV), a type of electromagnetic radiation which comes from the sun, still permeates. The best defence is a good sunscreen.
Sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 blocks 97% of UV rays. Increasing to an SPF of 50, only adds an additional one percent of coverage. Perhaps the biggest skin issue Dr Memark deals with in Hua Hin is skin cancer, specifically melanoma. Skin cancer is not as big an issue with Thai nationals, but is a big problem for many westerners. Melanoma develop when damaged skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from sunshine) triggers mutations (genetic defects) that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumours. Melanomas often resemble moles; some develop from moles. The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be pink, red, purple, blue or white. Melanoma is caused mainly by intense, occasional UV exposure (frequently leading to sunburn), especially in those who are genetically predisposed to the disease. If melanoma is recognised and treated early, it is almost always curable, but if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to treat and can be fatal. The worst thing you can do if you find a skin irritation is wait to visit a dermatologist. Make an appointment sooner rather than later so the issue can be treated immediately.