Steaming therapy uses to soothe and relieve cold symptoms. Studies on oversteaming can cause black fungus in COVID-19 patients are in progress.
Black Fungus, known initially as mucormycosis, is a fungal infection caused when a person comes in contact with the fungal spores called mucormycetes in the environment. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, there is a possibility of infection formation on the skin after the fungus enters the skin through a cut, scrape, burn, or other types of skin trauma.
In a recent development, mucormycosis is affecting recovered COVID-19 patients. Previously according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, patients with diabetes, immunodeficiency, prolonged ICU/hospital stay, co-morbidities/post organ transplant/cancer, and voriconazole therapy were at risk of getting affected by the infection.
Although according to reports published by doctors, it was remarked that patients with no history of the factors like reusing masks, not getting vaccinated, COVID-19 mutations were also infected with mucormycosis. There were claims that one common factor involved in patients affected was "excessive steam inhalation."
NCBI states that steam inhalation is one of the widely used home remedies to soothe and relieve cold symptoms. But it could cause severe adverse effects like burn injuries.
Dr. Rajeev Jayadevan told India Today that a slimy layer protects us from bacteria and viruses entering our bodies. The nasal mucosa is damaged through inhaling massive amounts of steam. This can trigger infections.
During an interview with India Today, Deepak Haldipur, a famous ENT/ Otorhinolaryngologist, stated three frequent variables in patients with a recent diagnosis of mucormycosis. The factors included first being the new COVID-19 mutants; secondly, patients not being vaccinated, and finally, people with low nasal immunity.
In the Indian Express article, prominent pulmonologist Satyanarayana Mysore discussed the nature of mucormycosis. Even Mysore agreed to the factors laid by Haldipur. Further, even masks have a potential role in contacting mucormycosis. Mysore said reusing the masks increases the risks of infections. COVID-19 mutant suppresses the "T cell immunity that leaves the body defenseless to face of secondary infections."
It can be noted that according to CDC, "the group of fungi that cause mucormycosis, are present throughout the environment, particularly in soil and in association with decaying organic matter, such as leaves, compost piles, and animal dung."
It also states that it is "probably impossible to completely avoid coming in contact with mucormycetes."
There are various articles on social media claiming excessive steam inhalation can cause black fungus. There are no conclusive studies to prove the point. However, it is suggested that steam inhalation is one factor for mucormycosis and not the only factor. COVID-19 mutants, reused masks, not getting vaccinated are other factors for mucormycosis. Studies are in progress to understand the relation of various factors with mucormycosis. Hence the claim is partly true.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.