Chronic fungal infection of the skin, hair, or nails is caused by specific species of fungi such as Trichophyton, Microsporum and Epidermophyton. In layman’s terms, the condition is called “ringworm” or tinea infection which is extremely common in general practice. Ringworm is characterized by round lesions (rings) and there are multiple terms for ringworm infection of various body sites such as; tinea corporis (body), tinea paedis (feet), tinea unguium (nail), tinea capitis (scalp) or tinea cruris (groin).
The signs and symptoms vary with the site of infection and the fungal species involved. Foot infection (athlete’s foot, tinea paedis) may present as fissuring of the toe webs, scaling of the plantar surfaces or vesicles around the toe webs and soles. Inter-digital lesions may be itchy but become painful when bacterial superinfection occurs. Hand infection is less common but it resembles foot infection. Scalp infection (tinea capitis) is characterized by areas of alopecia and scaling. Nail infection (tinea unguium) presents as a white discoloration of the nails or as thickening, chalkiness and crumbling of the nails. Tinea of the groin (‘jock itch’) tends to have a darkening of skin colour and extends from the folds of the groin down onto one or both thighs.
Though skin fungal infection like ringworm is not so easy to treat, recent uncomplicated infection can be checked by one of the most popular herbal powders and oil made from a single drug, Karanja, and also by maintaining hygiene and following certain do’s and don’ts given in the Ayurvedic literature.
- Keep the affected part clean, wash it daily with warm water and wipe dry.
- Local application of simple medicaments like neem oil, turmeric paste made with water or sulphur ointment can provide added effect.
- It is always advisable to continue the treatment for sometime, even if symptoms come under control.
- The cloth once used at the affected part should be reused only after washing and dipping in an antiseptic solution.
- Curd and heavy foods should be avoided. Food items with bitter taste are beneficial.
Dose and mode of administration
(1) The adult dose of Karanja seed powder is 250 mg and for children the dose is 30 mg to 60 mg, to be taken orally twice daily with lukewarm water after meals.
(2) Simultaneously, Pongamia oil is to be applied on the affected skin as per the requirement. Pongamia oil can be applied alone or in combination with sesame oil or neem oil.
Precaution and safety aspects
- Overdose of Karanja seed powder should be avoided. If any adverse effect is observed, stop taking it further.
- Internal use of Pongamia oil is reported to have adverse effects due to its toxic components3 and hence should be avoided.
- Adverse effects with external use of Pongamia oil are not reported but be observant while using this medicament.
- Internal use of Karanja is not advisable for pregnant women and nursing mothers.
Reference – Traditional Herbal Remedies for Primary Health Care