Wet clothes disease (WCD) is a fungal infection of the skin. It’s often seen in people who have been in a hot tub or sauna or have used hot tubs and saunas in the past. It’s most often seen in people who have worn damp clothing in the past.
WCD may look like a rash, but it’s often red and scaly. It often develops in groups and may look like a rash in places where you most commonly use your hands. This includes the chest, arms, and legs.
Once you’ve been in a sauna or hot tub, it’s possible to get WCD from the same area, even if you’ve washed the affected skin before.
It can take anywhere from two to four weeks for your skin to clear up after you’ve been in a hot tub or sauna.
What causes wet clothes disease?
Wet clothes disease is often caused by a fungus called Trichosporon beigelii. This fungus can grow on your skin, causing it to become red and scaly. It can also spread to your skin from damp clothing.
Other possible causes of wet clothes disease include:
- Sweating in a sauna or hot tub
- Using a towel or washcloth in a sauna or hot tub
- Wearing clothing that’s been damp for too long
How is wet clothes disease diagnosed?
You can diagnose WCD by looking at the area affected. Sometimes your doctor can take a sample of the fungus to a lab to be identified. This is an important step because certain types of fungi can spread from one person to another.
If your doctor suspects you have wet clothes disease, they’ll take a swab of your skin and send it to a lab. If the fungus is present, they’ll examine the sample under a microscope to see if it’s Trichosporon beigelii. If it is, they’ll know you have wet clothes disease.
What do I need to know about treatment?
There’s no cure for wet clothes disease. It’s usually treated by removing the infected skin. For example, if you have skin infection on your hands, you might be given a cream to apply to your skin. If you have skin infection on your legs, you might be prescribed a cream to apply to your legs.
In some cases, you may need to leave the area untreated for a few months.
If you have WCD, you can treat it by removing the skin that’s infected. This can often be done with a cream or topical antifungals (such as terbinafine [Lamisil], or itraconazole [Sporanox]).
What are the complications associated with wet clothes disease?
The most common complication of wet clothes disease is that the fungal infection can spread to other areas of the body. For example, if you have wet clothes disease on your arms and legs, it can spread to your face.
In some cases, it can even spread to other parts of your body, such as your eyes. This is called secondary infection.
If left untreated, it can cause a serious and potentially life-threatening infection called cellulitis. Cellulitis is an infection in the deeper layers of your skin. It can cause swelling and redness.
Cellulitis is more common in people who’ve been in hot tubs and saunas. It can also be a complication of other fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot.
What can I do to prevent wet clothes disease?
Wet clothes disease is preventable. You can prevent wet clothes disease by:
- Wearing clean, dry clothing
- Washing your clothes in hot water
- Keeping your hands clean
- Wearing gloves when handling your clothing
- Keeping your skin dry
You should also avoid swimming or using a hot tub or sauna if you have wet clothes disease.
How can I prevent wet clothes disease?
You should always wear clean, dry clothing. This includes:
- T-shirts and other normal-length shirts
- Loose-fitting, cotton-knit clothing
- Long-sleeve shirts
Don’t wear wet clothes. This includes:
If you have wet clothes disease, it’s important that you wash your clothes in hot water. You should also use the hottest water possible to clean your clothes.
You should also make sure to wash your hands before you put your clothes in the washing machine. This includes:
- Your hands
- Your fingers
- Your elbows
You should also use soap and water to clean your hands before you touch your clothes.
You should also keep your hands clean as you put your clothes in the dryer. This includes:
- Your wrists
- Your forearms
- Your shins
- Your ankles
What is the long-term outlook?
The outlook for WCD is good. It’s treatable and not serious. In most cases, it’s a mild infection. However, cellulitis is a serious complication. This is a condition in which the infection spreads to the skin. Cellulitis can be life-threatening if left untreated.
Can I prevent wet clothes disease in the future?
If you have wet clothes disease, you should avoid using hot tubs and saunas. This includes:
- Hot tubs and saunas
- Hot tubs and sauna floors or walls
- Washing machines
- Ice water machines
- Shower chairs
- Bath mats
- Hot tubs
The best way to prevent wet clothes disease is to wash your clothes in hot water.
If you have wet clothes disease, you should avoid using any of the following:
- Electric hot tubs
- Waterbed mattresses
- Water-to-vacuum heaters
- Water-to-vacuum heaters with power controls
- Water-to-vacuum heaters with no power controls
What’s the bottom line?
Wet clothes disease is a fungal infection that causes a rash that looks like wet clothes. It can also cause skin infections. If left untreated, it can cause cellulitis.
The biggest risk of wet clothes disease is that it can spread to other parts of the body. It can also make you more at risk for cellulitis. If you have wet clothes disease, make sure to wash your clothes in hot water.
It’s important to wash your skin before you put your clothes in the dryer. This will help prevent the spread of wet clothes disease to other parts of your body.
Wet clothes fever is a fungal infection that causes a rash that resembles wet clothes. It can cause skin infections, such as cellulitis.
It’s treatable and not serious. However, cellulitis is a serious complication. It can be life threatening if left untreated.
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