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WhatsApp chatbot will help people with fungal infection

To improve adherence to treatment, give pill reminders, awareness

Published: 25th May 2022 07:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th May 2022 07:02 AM   |  A+A-

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Express News Service

BENGALURU: An Indian multinational pharmaceutical company has launched India’s first Whatsapp-based chatbot to help patients suffering from fungal infections. The digital tool ‘Hello Skin’, in collaboration with the Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists (ADVL) is said to help patients suffering mainly from ringworm or tinea infection in India. It is caused by a fungus, not a worm, like the name suggests. 

The chatbot helps patients in not only improving adherence to topical/systemic recommended therapy with daily pill reminders, but also creates disease awareness and provides skincare tips to patients suffering from ringworm infection. It provided assistance in six regional languages. 

Alok Malik, Group Vice-President and Head, India Formulations, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd, said, “Digital patient inclusion for better disease management is the way forward in healthcare. This initiative will improve disease education and patient adherence to fungal therapy. IADVL’s collaboration with Glenmark for developing this innovative solution, further adds to its credibility amongst dermatologists and patients.”

Dr Rashmi Sarkar, President, IADVL, says that fungal infections have become one of the most difficult infections to treat in recent times, with patients reporting feelings of depression and isolation due to the associated social taboo. The recent prevalence of Dermatophytosis in India has reached 78.4 per cent. 

Dr Manjunath Shenoy, Coordinator, IADVL Special Interest Group on Recalcitrant Dermatophytosis, said, “Creating awareness about this infection is very critical as it can spread easily from one person to another. It requires patients to adhere to the recommended therapy in a timely manner, for successful treatment. I think this chatbot is a new way to help patients in times where digitisation has become an integral part of our lives.”

Dermatologists say they are perplexed with the recurring nature of the disease. Although there are multiple oral and topical treatments available, dermatologists stress on the importance of patients’ adherence to treatment and avoidance of steroid abuse for success.

Dr Abhiram R, Consultant Dermatologist, Vasavi Hospital, says, “Every third person I see is reporting this infection. It gets worse during summer and monsoon. Lack of proper treatment, use of over-the-counter medication, and lack of hygiene has added to the burden of this infection.”

Symptoms

Dermatophytosis or ringworm infection is a contagious infection of the skin or scalp, characterised by ring-like rashes on the body or face

It spreads through direct contact with infected skin or fungal spores that can live on fabrics, clothing, couch cushions, bedding etc

Fungus can thrive in damp environments like locker rooms and public showers



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