Numerous relief camps have been opened at many places in Kerala after the flooding occurred this year. There would be people arriving at these camps with injuries caused between toes by scratching. When they seek treatment, usually clotrimazole ointment would be prescribed considering it as a fungal infection.
However, the cause for the condition could also be the entry of the larvae of various parasites like hook worm and round worm. This happens when people spend some days with their feet immersed in mud. In fact, the space between the toes is the entry point of these parasites into our body. As part of their life-cycles, these organisms pass through this most delicate part of our skin. This causes severe itching as well as redness in the area. If infection does not occur, these difficulties go away on their own.
However, people living in wet areas can develop fungal infection, which also can cause itching. By scratching, the skin between toes may rupture, leading to a similar situation as a parasite attack.
So, both these conditions have to be differentiated. The fungus infection occurs only if a person spends several days in a damp area, compared to a few days for entry of parasites to occur. Moreover, the difficulties caused by fungus will be felt not only between the toes but also around the nails and above the toes.
In some cases, clotrimazole ointment would not be sufficient to treat the malady. Such people need to wash their feet thoroughly in salty water. If itching persists, antihistamines or even antibiotics may have to be resorted to. However, these medicines should be taken only based on the advice of a doctor.
Meanwhile, everyone can take care of their toes to avoid such troubles. Wash your feet thoroughly, particularly the toes, and keep them dry. Each time you return after venturing into a wet area, wash the feet well with soap and wipe them using a dry cloth.
It is better to prevent a parasite attack rather than treat it after getting infected. In the past, a blue-coloured drug named gentian violet was used to treat infection caused by worms. However, it's not common these days.