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Best Home Remedies for Tinea Versicolor

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Today I'm going to give you the best tinea versicolor home remedies. Tinea versicolor is a skin condition. You may have also heard it called pityriasis versicolor. Don't get confused by this, pityriasis versicolor and tinea versicolor are just two different names for the same condition. So if you've been diagnosed with either, these remedies will work for you.

In this article:

  1. What is Tinea Versicolor?
  2. What Causes Tinea Versicolor?
  3. How to Prevent Tinea Versicolor?
  4. How to Know if You Have Tinea Versicolor?
  5. Who’s at Most Risk for Tinea Versicolor?
  6. Best Home Remedies for Tinea Versicolor?

Man's back with skin fungus | Best Home Remedies for Tinea Versicolor

What is Tinea Versicolor?

Tinea versicolor is a very common skin condition. It's a fungal infection caused by an overgrowth of a type of yeast on the skin.

A tinea versicolor infection can interfere with the skin pigment on the affected areas. It prevents the proper release of melanin, which causes small white, red, or brown spots to appear on the skin. The most common affected areas are the chest, back, and shoulders.

Tinea versicolor most often affects teens and young adults. Other than discoloration, you may also notice scaling and light itching. Though the symptoms aren't severe, tinea can be a constant nuisance and may cause an unwanted blotchy appearance on the affected areas of the skin.


What Causes Tinea Versicolor?

Thankfully, tinea is not a contagious infection, so there's no need to go into quarantine or avoid others who have tinea versicolor. Like I mentioned, tinea versicolor is caused by an overgrowth of yeast. Now, keep in mind that everyone has yeast living on the skin, and yeast is a form of fungus. Typically, this fungus doesn't cause a problem. An infection only happens when the yeast begins to grow out of control.

The particular type of yeast that causes tinea versicolor is called Malassezia furfur. Malassezia furfur is a yeast that naturally belongs to the skin flora. An overgrowth of Malassezia can lead to both tinea versicolor and pneumonia.

The question is, what causes this fungus to grow out of control? Surprisingly, it doesn't start with the skin. It starts with the gut. The gut encompasses a highly complex community of microorganisms, which includes bacteria and fungi.

A healthy gut has a good balance of friendly microbes. You have friendly bacteria and friendly fungi that your body needs to function properly. Your body relies on good gut microbes to digest food, absorb nutrients, and strengthen your immune system by keeping bad microbes in check.


How to Prevent Tinea Versicolor

When the gut balance is thrown off, unfriendly bacteria and fungi can take over both internally and externally, causing a wide range of health conditions. This, of course, includes skin infections like tinea versicolor.

Here's where things get even more interesting. Common treatments for tinea versicolor include topical antifungals and oral antifungals. There's a problem with this: antifungals can harm your body's natural microbial balance.

What this means is that your gut's microbial balance is thrown off further, which makes the chances of developing tenia versicolor again even greater.

In fact, those who get tinea versicolor have an 80% chance of getting it again. Why is that? Because the real problem (which is the gut) isn't addressed.

To keep the gut healthy and prevent future fungal infections, you should consume plenty of fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, and kimchi. If you can't get enough of these fermented foods in your diet, you can take a probiotic supplement.


How to Know if You Have Tinea Versicolor

If you have a tinea versicolor infection, you'll notice right away that you have patches of discoloration. This can include:

  • Patches that are pink, red, white, or brown which are either lighter or darker than the skin around them
  • Discolored spots on your chest, back, neck, or arms
  • Spots that tan differently than the rest of your skin does

Aside from the look of tinea versicolor, you may also experience itchiness and scaley or dry skin. Aloe vera gel can actually help with these symptoms. Aloe vera may even help reduce the spread of the fungus, but it won't necessarily make the infection go away.

While these symptoms are most often associated with tinea, you can't know for sure that you have it without talking to your doctor. It's easy to confuse tinea versicolor with other conditions like vitiligo (which is more intense) or faciei (which is limited to the face).

Doctors typically know what these spots are right away. They may confirm by using an ultraviolet light which makes the fungus appear yellow-green, or they may take a skin sample and look at it under a microscope.


Who's at Most Risk for Tinea Versicolor?

Though the exact reason behind the overgrowth of Malassezia furfur isn't fully understood, there are several risk factors that are known. As I mentioned before, Tinea versicolor most often affects teens and young adults. But age only makes up part of the potential risk for this fungal infection.

One of the largest risk factors is high humidity. Humid weather increases the growth of fungi, which means that people in hot and humid climates are far more likely to develop tinea versicolor. Greasy skin can also contribute to fungus. Even if your skin doesn't naturally get greasy, using greasy sunscreen or lotions can cause problems. So always use non-greasy sunscreen and try using aloe vera instead of oily lotions.

Your gut wall contains 70 percent of the cells that form your immune system. Anything that affects your gut health puts you at a higher risk for tinea. In fact, many health problems are actually linked to gut problems.

You might not connect gut problems with arthritis, allergies, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, acne, mood disorders, cancer, autism, or dementia, but they can often be connected. The gut affects the body as a whole.

Since tinea versicolor is connected to the health of the gut, anything that compromises gut health can put you at risk. This includes:

Antibiotics — Though antibiotics are made to kill off unfriendly bacteria, they can also harm friendly bacteria. Not having enough friendly bacteria leaves your gut vulnerable to becoming overrun by unfriendly bacteria in the future.

Cortisone — cortisone cream is used to treat several skin conditions, including dermatitis, eczema, allergies, insect bites, poison oak/ivy, and certain rashes. The problem is that cortisone also promotes the growth of unfriendly microbes, including Malassezia, which causes tinea versicolor.

Diabetes — High blood sugar levels weaken the immune system. So if you have diabetes, you may be far more susceptible to fungal infections throughout your body, which includes tinea versicolor.

PCOS — Many women deal with polycystic ovary syndrome. This is a hormonal disorder which is known to cause gut imbalances. So if you have PCOS, you're more likely to have an overgrowth of funguses like Malassezia furfur.

Pregnant women — Pregnancy alters the bodies chemistry, which can temporarily make you susceptible to infection. This makes you more likely to develop fungal infections, including tinea versicolor.

Malnutrition — Your body needs a wide range of nutrients to promote the growth of healthy gut flora. If your body is malnourished, you probably don't have enough friendly microbes and you probably have an overgrowth of unfriendly microbes.

Now that you know what a tinea versicolor is, what causes it, and who's most vulnerable, I'm going to share my best tinea home remedies.

Tea tree essential oil on table | Best Home Remedies for Tinea Versicolor

Best Tinea Versicolor Home Remedies

Some people say that the best tinea remedies are ketoconazole, clotrimazole, terbinafine, miconazole, ciclopirox, cineol, ajoene, or selenium sulfide. These are found in ointments, lotions, and shampoos like Selsun Blue. But here's the thing: these don't work for everyone, they can be difficult to find, and they often require a prescription. What I'm about to talk about is a far better natural option.

The best home remedy for tinea versicolor is using natural oils. My favorite oils for this are:

  • Oregano oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Thyme oil
  • Grapefruit seed oil
  • Coconut oil

Why? Because each of these oils acts as a natural antifungal. Better yet, the antifungal activity won't cause any harm to friendly microbes that your body needs to keep from getting this fungus again. In fact, these oils can actually be immune-boosting.

Tea tree oil is one of the best to try, but using more than one of these oils at a time can be even more beneficial.

Don't apply the essential oils straight to your skin. This can cause your skin to develop a rash. Instead, mix the essential oils with coconut oil. Coconut oil is not only great as a carrier oil, but it also has anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties in the form of medium-chain triglycerides.

The best recipe is four drops of essential oil for every one tablespoon of coconut oil. You can apply this right to the affected areas using a cotton ball. But first, clean the affected areas. Using baking soda or apple cider vinegar and some warm water will do the trick. I recommend doing this before bed so that the application can sit on your skin and work in your favor all night long.

Chances are, this simple solution will work better than over-the-counter drugs and won't cause gut damage like many prescription-strength drugs.

Give these natural remedies a try for a few weeks and see how they work for you.

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