We all have yeast (aka: fungus) growing on our skin, but there’s a certain form of yeast, Malassezia furfur, that interferes with the normal production of pigment in the skin. This superficial infection by a yeast results in small, discolored patches known as tinea versicolor. The little white, and often itchy, spots may be all over your back, perhaps shoulders, even face, neck, and arms.
Tinea versicolor occurs most frequently in teens and young adults, and tinea versicolor is not contagious. Once treated, it often recurs but usually not right away.
What causes Tinea Versicolor? A number of factors may trigger growth of the tinea versicolor fungus:
- Hot, humid weather—sun exposure may make tinea versicolor more apparent so limit your exposure and definitely wear sunscreen, and a non-toxic one at that.
- Excessive sweating—fungus loves humidity, and if you sweat a lot (ie: runners, working outside). Change sweaty clothes frequently and right away. Consider a material that wicks away sweat during exercise.
- Weakened immune system—70% of your immune system is based in your digestive system, inside your intestines and colon. Antibiotics wipe that out, unfortunately. A high-quality, gut supporting supplement will help rebuild the gut’s immune system. Try out Glycophagen GI Wellness. There's nothing like it on the market and it contains beneficial bacteria that promote a harmonious and balanced gut microbiome, resulting in optimal immune function. Experience the impact within hours, not days, as it works in both the small and large intestines.
- Cushing’s disease
- Steroid therapy
- Oral contraceptives
- Hormonal changes
Nutrition Tips For Supporting Healthy Skin and the Body's Ability to Eliminate Tinea Versicolor
What you eat definitely matters when it comes to treating tinea versicolor.
1. Support your immune system by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables which are high in immune-supporting vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. Dark, leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, grapes, tomatoes, and red and orange bell peppers are all great sources of vitamins A, C, and E—all of which are antioxidant powerhouses. Take a look at this list of simple tips for including immune-boosting foods in your diet. For additional immune support with antioxidants, my favorite product is Glycophagen GI Wellness, which targets the immune system via the gut microbiome.
2. Vitamin D is important for supporting a healthy immune system and healthy skin. Avoiding the sun and always wearing sunscreen is highly recommended with tinea versicolor, making vitamin D even more critical! Please choose your sunscreen wisely.
3. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, and a high-quality probiotic is great for healthy digestive and immune function. Especially consider a probiotic if you’ve taken antibiotics in the past. Seventy percent of your immune system is based in your intestines so you want a very strong immune system to keep your body functioning efficiently. Don’t take probiotics on an empty stomach because levels of stomach acid are too high.
Food sources: probiotics in yogurt is a great food-based option for tinea versicolor.
4. Biotin is important for your skin and biotin also restricts the yeast from reproducing. Here’s an interesting tidbit: probiotics (beneficial bacteria) are able to make biotin. People with tinea versicolor or yeast typically don’t have very many beneficial bacteria in their stomach so they’re not producing that much biotin. If you take biotin and your probiotic, with time, biotin production by probiotics is going to be enough, but in the beginning, take biotin to support the removal of harmful bacteria.
5. Vitamin A and vitamin E, both fat-soluble vitamins, are commonly deficient in those with tinea versicolor. If you have a digestive condition that doesn’t allow you to absorb fats and you minimize your fat intake, consider a high quality vitamin supplement, like Bio-V.
6. Magnesium supports healthy mood and emotions as stress and anxiety increase blood sugar and deplete nutrients needed for healthy skin.
Lifestyle Tips For Managing Tinea Versicolor
1. A chlorine shower filter is highly recommended for people with tinea versicolor. Why? Chlorine damages the skin. If your skin is damaged it wants to repair itself and does this by secreting oils all over your skin. Eventually your skin dries out and you need to moisturize, which prevents your skin from breathing. More susceptible to skin fungus and acne.
2. We often forget the skin is the body’s largest organ. Tinea versicolor and your immune system must be treated together for healthy looking skin. In the shower, wash yourself with a natural soap—Neem Soap.
3. Saprox is 100% natural clay containing sulphur, other minerals, humic acids, essential oils and other beneficial organic substances commonly purchased for the treatment of tinea veriscolor. The ingredients are natural, unlike some other over the counter skin products currently on the market. Before using Saprox, definitely ensure your skin is completely dry before applying the Saprox. Shake the bottle very well before using. Apply the tinea clear in an even, thin layer according to the instructions on the bottle. Let it dry (approx. 15 minutes). After it dries, you can use a damp towel and wash it off, or jump back into the shower and rinse it off. Don’t use soap again. Apply for two weeks on troubled areas and itching should be gone.
4. Using plain yogurt for tinea versicolor is an inexpensive natural remedy worth trying. Simply apply the plain yogurt directly to the affected skin and leave it on for 30 minutes, after which you can wash it off with water. It's recommended to do this 2 to 3 times per day. With that said, eating yogurt for tinea versicolor is a common thing to do, and it certainly can't hurt, as natural yogurt is a known probiotic-containing food. Just avoid the sweetened, high sugar yogurt since the sugar will feed the yeast and "bad" bacteria, which will do more harm than good. Give the melanin (white spots) a month or two to restore and heal itself. I also will emphasize to stay out of the sun and always wear sunscreen (benzone free and paraben free).
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods