Fungal superbug a reality for India, warn dermatologists

‘Misuse of topical steroid creams causing burden on healthcare’

April 07, 2018 01:35 am | Updated 01:35 am IST - NEW DELHI

Rampant misuse and abuse of topical steroid creams is resulting in dermatologists warning against unusual increase in fungal infections, commonly called ringworm infections by the public, across the country since the past five to six years.

‘Resistant to treatments’

“These infections are very extensive, highly contagious and resistant to almost all varieties of treatment, causing a huge burden on the healthcare in India,” dermatologists warned.

Speaking on the occasion of World Skin Health Day on Friday (April 6), the Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists (IADVL) noted in a statement, “Abuse of steroid creams and steroid combination creams is unchecked because the Health Ministry is not taking timely or adequate remedial steps. It is also frightening to see how drug companies manage to obtain permission to introduce newer antifungal formulations such as fluconazole powder, itraconazole powder as well as cream, and amphotericin B gel.”

Members of the IADVL Taskforce Against Topical Steroid Abuse (ITATSA) have approached the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) several times to explain the alarming situation, the association said.

Following alleged inaction on the part of the DCGI, the IADVL has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Delhi High Court.

‘Prescription only’

The association noted that topical steroids and their combinations need to be sold as “prescription only, aka Schedule H drugs”.

However, the government has kept them out of the Schedule H list for questionable purposes, the PIL states.

IADVL president Ramesh Bhat said: “Owing to several reasons like global warming, environmental changes and use of non prescribed antifugal creams, there is a rapid increase in skin diseases. Skin is the largest organ in our body and should be given utmost care. Abuse and misuse of topical steroid creams is creating great problems.”

‘Dangerous ailments’

Senior dermatologist at All India Institutes of Medical Sciences( AIIMS) V. K. Sharma added, “It is very often that we do not pay attention to the skin. However, it should be remembered that the ailments like psoriasis and pemphigus are as dangerous as heart ailments.”

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