Check your skin. If you have discolored patches which appears to be light or reddish-brown in color and more prominent on your chest, neck, back and arms (but may also be present in other parts of your body), it’s possible that you have a skin infection called tinia versicolor, a.k.a. pityriasis versicolor which is caused by the Malassezia Furfur fungus which is known to us as yeast.
Normally, this fungus is present on the skin in very minimal numbers; hence it seldom causes any harm. However, under some instances, the yeast could become pathogenic and lead to tinea versicolor. The abnormal growth of the yeast on the skin is what leads to variation in skin color and sometimes, scaling. It may become irritating and itchy.
The fungus, which is the culprit , causes the infection to feed on the natural oils on the skin’s surface, and so, apparently, those with oily skin are at a higher risk with regards to suffering from tinea versicolor as compared to those people who have dry skin. Those residing in areas with high temperatures and humidity are also more prone to develop this kind of skin infection. Adolescents and young adults were found to be more susceptible to this infection. Why so? Studies tell us that those with active sebaceous oily glands are the fungus’ weakness.
Don’t panic though. It is not a permanent or serious infection (unless you make it so by not seeking remedies or treatment), but it may be contagious; transmitted from one person to another through direct physical contact or through shared items such as used clothing, towels or hankies. The face is rarely infected with tinea versicolor, but it can be extremely prominent when it occurs as facial skin gets tannned easily. So practice more caution so that it doesn’t reach your face.
Several other factors which may contribute to the growth of this yeast, includes:
- excessive heat
- oily skin
- weak immune system
- removal of adrenal glands
- oral contraceptives
Remedies and prevention tips to avoid recurrence:
- Have that daily bath to eliminate dead cells and fungus from your skin. A loofa scrubber is suitable to get rid of the top layer of dead skin.
- Take lukewarm or slightly warm showers only; never hot water please as it may strip natural oils on your skin.
- Dandruff shampoos are found to be effective for Tinea veriscolor as they are formulated with selenium sulfide which fights fungus. You just have to spread some on the affected areas and leave it overnight.
- Shampoo with Ketaconazole (a fungicide) is also a very effective treatment to help counteract the spread of the skin discoloration.
- Avoid sunbathing and tanning beds for the meantime as these could only make the discolored patches more prominent. A big no-no.
- Avoid frequent sharing of personal items like clothing, as some studies indicate that those who frequently share personal clothing items are at higher risk
- Over-the-counter anti-fungal creams may be applied twice daily.
- A cream or medicated lotion ideal for tinea versicolor would speed up recovery time.
- Keep yourself well-hydrated for better skin health.
- Restrict or minimize consumption of processed and fatty foods.
- Natural treatments as home remedies for tinea versicolor:
—A clove of garlic (which has antifungal proprties) may be cut into two and rubbed into the affected skin at least three times a day, morning, noon and night time. Consuming a few cloves (raw or cooked is all right) is a natural therapy for tinea versicolor.
— Apple cider vinegar is acidic in nature and it provides a hostile environment for fungus preventing further spread.
— Unflavored yogurt spread on skin for about half an hour on a daily basis will help to naturally heal the skin and remove the discolored spots. The lactic acid present in yogurt is what prevents the infection from spreading. Consumption of yogurt is also recommended.
For more widespread tinea versicolor, it is best to see your dermatologist for more suitable treatment method. Treatments do not bring instant results and your tinea versicolor may recur, so learn to practice more prevention methods. Baby powder is advised to keep yourself dry and prevent further abnormal growth of fungus.