Understanding and Treating Tinea Versicolor – 2 Remedies To Heal Sun Fungus

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What is Tinea Versicolor?
This summer, you’ve noticed white spots on your skin, a common concern known as “sun fungus” or Tinea versicolor. This condition is a fungal infection caused by an overgrowth of yeast (Malassezia globosa) on the skin. Typically harmless, this yeast is a normal part of the skin’s flora but can proliferate excessively in warm, humid conditions—something Florida residents are all too familiar with.

Symptoms and Triggers
The appearance of discolored patches becomes more prominent as you tan, not because the sun causes the condition but because the fungus prevents affected skin from tanning. While this condition is not dangerous, it can cause distress due to its visible nature.

Some of you reading this may know a person with other skin infections or autoimmune issues. Or you may want to glean a clinical pearl for tinea versicolor that I haven’t covered here. If you have time and desire, read these articles next:

10 Novel Treatments For Chronic Itch, Eczema And Skin Infections

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Tinea Versicolor skin

Effective Treatments: Tinea Versicolor “Sun Fungus”

As a seasoned pharmacist with over 30 years experience, I recommend several effective treatments to manage this condition:

1. Antifungal Creams

Antifungal creams are a frontline treatment for Tinea versicolor due to their effectiveness in suppressing the Malassezia yeast. Two of the most commonly recommended active ingredients are:

  • Clotrimazole: This is a broad-spectrum antifungal that works by inhibiting the growth of yeast and fungi. It alters the permeability of the fungal cell wall, leading to the leakage of essential intracellular components, which ultimately causes the fungus’s death. Clotrimazole is available in various formulations such as creams, lotions, and sprays. When treating Tinea versicolor, apply the clotrimazole cream to the affected areas twice daily. The treatment should continue for at least two weeks, or longer depending on the severity and extent of the infection.

  • Miconazole: Similar to clotrimazole, miconazole functions by weakening the fungal cell membranes. It is particularly effective against the yeast-causing Tinea versicolor and also provides relief from itching and discomfort associated with the infection. Miconazole is typically found in cream or spray form and should be applied directly to the cleansed, affected area. Usage recommendations are generally to apply twice daily, continuing for a couple of weeks to ensure all yeast is eradicated.

Both these treatments are usually well-tolerated, but it’s important to monitor for any signs of irritation or allergic reaction, especially if you have sensitive skin. Consistent application as directed is crucial for the success of the treatment.

2. Selenium Sulfide Shampoo

Selenium sulfide is primarily known for its use in treating dandruff due to its anti-fungal properties, but it’s also highly effective for managing Tinea versicolor. Here’s how you can use it:

  • Application: Selenium sulfide shampoo (e.g., Selsun Blue) can be applied directly to the skin. First, shake the bottle well. Then apply the shampoo to the affected areas of the skin. Lather it slightly and leave it on for about 10 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. This application should be done twice daily.

  • Duration: The treatment should typically continue for two weeks. However, some cases may require longer treatment, especially if the infection is widespread or particularly persistent.

  • Precautions: When using selenium sulfide shampoo on the skin, it’s important to avoid contact with the eyes and mucous membranes, as it can cause irritation. Additionally, some people may find the shampoo drying or mildly irritating to the skin; using a moisturizer can help alleviate dryness.

These remedies, when used consistently and correctly, can significantly reduce the symptoms of Tinea versicolor and prevent recurrence by targeting the yeast directly. As with all treatments, if symptoms persist or worsen, consulting with a dermatologist for further management may be necessary.

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Lifestyle and Dietary Adjustments

To prevent recurrence, consider these tips:

  • Diet: Avoid sugars, starches, and yeast-containing foods which can feed the fungus. This includes sweeteners, fruits, jams, bread, alcohol, vinegar, and certain snacks like baked goods and nuts.
  • Healthy Choices: Emphasize vegetables, grass-fed meats, eggs, and healthy oils (olive, coconut, grape seed). Opt for whole grains if grains are consumed at all.

  • Probiotics and Anti-fungal Foods: Enhance your diet with probiotics, garlic, turmeric, oregano, and grapefruit to fight yeast growth internally.

This type of infection (and all fungus-related ones) thrive by you eating sugar, starch and yeast-containing foods.  Therefore, avoid eating anything like this, such as all sweeteners (including the artificial ones), fruits, jams, bread, alcohol, as well as other foods that don’t necessarily have a high sugar content, but may make your condition worse. I’m thinking vinegar, baked goodies, and nuts.

Hey, for some of you, the skin condition gives you more incentive to start that new diet you’ve been itching to try! Stick to the veggies, grass-fed meats, eggs, olive, coconut or grape seed oil, and whole grain pasta (if you eat grains).  Don’t forget to supplement with high-quality probiotics and other anti-fungal foods and spices (garlic, turmeric, oregano and grapefruit.)

Maintaining Skin Health with Tinea Versicolor

A soothing bath can also relieve symptoms. Combine Epsom salts, baking soda, lemon juice, tea tree, and clary sage essential oils along with some dandruff shampoo in your bath. The ratios don’t matter much. Keep your skin as clean and dry as possible, and wash your clothing and linens regularly in gentle detergents. No dryer sheets. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) posted a blog about the DANGERS of some dryer sheets. 

Keep your skin clean and dry. Regularly wash your clothing and bed linens in gentle detergents without fabric softeners to minimize skin irritation and prevent fungal growth.

By integrating these treatments with dietary and lifestyle changes, you can effectively manage Tinea versicolor and reduce its recurrence, leading to healthier skin and a more comfortable summer.