Fungal infections of the skin are quite common and often involve a combination of both fungi and bacteria to which the skin is reacting, as well as to fungal toxins. The most common of all fungal infestations, whether inside the body or on the skin is Candida albicans.
These skin infestations commonly occur where opposing skin surfaces contact each other and rub. Typical warm, moist areas are the groin, underarms, between folds of skin and between the toes. This kind of superficial skin disorder has the name, intertrigo.
Another kind of fungal skin infestation is ‘jock itch’ (Tinea cruris). This red, itchy rash is more likely to occur in people who sweat a lot. The itching can be intense and there may also be small blisters and small white scales present. The rash can involve the entire groin area.
With jock itch, the most commonly associated fungus is Trichophyton rubrum, which is likely to be accompanied by Candida albicans, Trichophyton mentagrophytes and/or Epidermophyton floccosum.
A dry, healthy skin effectively blocks yeast infestations, but there are a number of adverse factors that may allow the yeast or fungus to gain a foothold. They include:
Your immune system is depressed;
You have recently had a course of antibiotics (or are taking steroids);
You have high blood sugar levels, as in poorly controlled diabetes;
Your peripheral blood circulation (to the extremities) is compromised and/or there are lowered oxygen levels in your bloodstream;
You are overweight or obese;
You don’t dry yourself thoroughly after bathing or sweaty activity;
You excessively use soap and shampoos that remove the natural, protective acid coating from the surface of the skin;
You wear tight or synthetic clothing that holds perspiration on the skin (check out this natural fibre clothing);
You have previously suffered fungal skin infections;
You have a weakened immune system due to general toxaemia of the system.
Healthy skin normally secretes very weak acid, which acts as a protective barrier against microorganisms. But if the skin becomes unhealthy, it can then become vulnerable to fungal or yeast infestation.
We all have fungi (or yeasts) inside us, some are ‘good’, others are ‘bad’. It is when they get out of balance that the ‘bad’ ones come to dominate. To restore the right balance, they should all respond to an anti-Candida program. This involves detoxing, natural foods, supplements, probiotics and natural anti-fungals.
Topical treatments may provide immediate relief, but the problem will not be completely overcome until the immune system is back to full strength, which depends mainly on detoxing and good nutrition. Here are things to do that can be expected to bring relief sooner or later.
Take probiotics to displace the fungi in the intestines. If on antibiotics, this is especially important.
Avoid refined sugar and other concentrated sugary foods, which feed fungi. With an entrenched infestation, even fruit will need to be limited, but entirely avoid three fruits that often contain mold – oranges, grapes and melons. Avoid white rice and white flour products that also feed fungi.
Avoid foods containing yeast so as to minimise the load on the immune system – fermented foods, cheese (other than cottage or ricotta), beer, wine, cider, ginger ale, mushrooms, soya sauce, bread made with yeast, any food containing breadcrumbs, stale nuts and seeds, dried fruits, MSG.
Garlic is a powerful anti-fungal. It is most potent when consumed raw, but is still effective if cooked. Or even take garlic capsules.
If the rash is persistent enough, it will be desirable to have a few days consuming exclusively vegetable salads and fruit. This detoxing will strengthen the immune system.
For topical treatment, rub an anti-fungal into the rash twice a day. A non-toxic remedy is easily made: mix 4 – 6 drops of tea tree oil, oregano oil and/or clove oil (any or all of these) with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.
If you are willing to take the trouble, spread over the rash the remarkable Manuka honey, being sure to purchase genuine Manuka honey with strength at least UMF 10. Cover with a bandage or wadding and leave in place for hours or the entire day. Repeat as necessary.
Wash with only coconut-oil-based soap or just plain water.
After showering, wipe over the rash with water made acidic with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Stir either the juice of half a lemon or 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar into 2 cups warm water. Pat dry and leave as is. The purpose here is to restore the natural acidity of the skin.
Wear loose, pure cotton underwear. Change if it becomes damp or sweaty. Avoid synthetics.
Sleep in loose pyjamas or nightie, so that the area does not become sweaty.
After any physical activity that causes sweating, wash the area with plain water. It is best to avoid the use of soap whenever possible. You could then wipe the rash with the lemon juice or apple cider vinegar solution mentioned above. Again, pat dry, but don’t wash it off.
Wipe coconut oil over the rash as often as is convenient.
Because fungal skin rashes usually reflect Candida overgrowth elsewhere in the body, particularly in the intestinal tract, rectum and vagina (thrush), it would be wise to have a check-up by a naturopath or wholistic medical practitioner. If the infestation is widespread, the Candida program, as outlined above, will need to be applied in depth and probably for months.
A detailed program for Candida albicans is presented in the Spring 2008 issue of Natural Health and Vegetarian Life magazine, page 50. Copies are available via our office.