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 What is tinea versicolor?

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PostSubject: What is tinea versicolor?    Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:37 am

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What is tinea versicolor?


What are symptoms of tinea versicolor?

Tinea
versicolor is a common fungal infection that often affects adolescents
and young adults. The term versicolor refers to the fact that it causes
the affected skin to change color and become either lighter or darker
than surrounding skin. The most common areas it affects are the
shoulders, back, and chest. At times, it can affect folds of skin, such
as the crook of the arm, the skin under the breasts, or the groin. The
face is usually spared, although sometimes children can get it there.
There may be just a few spots or so many that it gives the appearance
that the affected skin is normal while the unaffected skin around it
seems to have a problem.
What causes tinea versicolor?
Tinea
versicolor is caused by a yeast called Malassezia furfur that lives in
the skin of most adults. This exists in two forms, one of which causes
visible spots. Factors that can cause the fungus to become more visible
include high humidity and immune or hormone abnormalities. However,
almost all people with this very common condition are perfectly healthy.
Because
the tinea versicolor fungus is part of the normal adult skin, this
condition is not contagious. It often recurs after treatment, but
usually not right away, so that treatment needs to be repeated only
every year or two.
Tinea versicolor patches that are brown or
reddish-brown go right away after treatment. When this condition
produces spots that are lighter than the surrounding skin, it may take
several months for overall color to even out. It always eventually does.
Tinea versicolor does not leave permanent skin discoloration.
What other conditions resemble tinea versicolor?
The following conditions look a little like tinea versicolor but are really quite different:
Pityriasis
alba: This is a mild form of eczema (seen in young people) that
produces mild, patchy lightening of the face, shoulders, or torso.
Vitiligo:
This condition results in a permanent loss of pigment. Vitiligo is more
likely to affect the skin around the eyes and lips or the knuckles and
joints. Spots are porcelain-white and, unlike those of tinea versicolor,
are permanent.
Alternative Medical Treament:
Among the
herbs that slow down or halt the growth of fungus are goldenseal
(Hydrastis canadensis), myrrh (Commiphora molmol), garlic (Allium
sativa), pau d'arco (Tabeebuia impestiginosa), turmeric (Curcuma longa),
oregano (Origanum vulgare), cinnamon (Cinnamonum zeylanicum),
jewelweed, sage (Salvia officinalis), Impatiens aurea, yellow dock
(Rumex crispus), the lichen known as old man's beard (Usnea barbata),
black walnut husks and bark (Juglans nigra), licorice (Glycyrrhiza
glabra), and Calendula officinalis. These herbs can be applied to
external fungus as infusions, salves, powders, or vinegars. Many of them
can also be taken internally as capsules or tinctures. Antifungal herbs
can be quite strong, however, and care should be taken that a given
remedy is suitable for internal use.
When an infusion is used,
the affected area should be washed or soaked in the herbal water for at
least 15 minutes twice daily. Store-bought or homemade tea bags can be
soaked in water or vinegar for about 10 minutes and then used as a
poultice for the same effect. Herbal vinegars make excellent remedies
for fungus, as vinegar is in itself antifungal. "Gourmet" vinegars with
such antifungal ingredients as oregano and garlic are often readily
available at grocery stores. The vinegar can be applied a few times
daily with cotton or compresses. In addition, a bentonite clay dusting
powder can be useful for drying out the environment of moist skin in
which fungus thrives. It works best when mixed with powdered antifungal
herbs such as myrrh or goldenseal. Dusting powder is especially helpful
for athlete's foot.
Many herbs high in essential oils also have
antifungal action, particularly tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia),
oregano, lavender (Lavandula officinalis), Eucalyptus spp., rose
geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), peppermint (Mentha piperita),
chamomile (Matricaria recutita), and myrrh. Peppermint oil is especially
helpful in relieving the itching associated with many fungal
infections. The simplest way to use aromatherapy to fight fungal
infections is to add several drops of any single essential oil or
combination of oils to bathwater. Essential oil can also be added to
mixtures for soaking or compresses. Tea tree is the herb most frequently
recommended for the treatment of superficial fungal infections. As with
all essential oils, the full-strength oil should be diluted in a
carrier. A dilution of tea tree oil can be made by adding the essential
oil to a carrier oil. This mixture can be added directly to the site of a
skin infection.
A healthy diet should be maintained. Foods that
are high in yeast, such as beer and wine, breads, and baked goods
should be avoided. Fermented foods and sugary foods, including honey and
fruit juices, should also be avoided until symptoms have cleared.
Antifungal culinary herbs such as garlic, tumeric, oregano, sage, and
cinnamon should be used liberally in foods. Yogurt containing live
cultures can be incorporated into the diet to supply needed gut
bacteria, and help reduce digestive infections such as candidiasis and
thrush. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus can also
be taken directly as supplements. Supplements that can be taken for
fungal infections include vitamins A, B complex, C, and E. Caprylic
acid, an extract of the coconut plant, is also recommended as an
antifungal, as well as grapefruit seed extract. Essential fatty acids,
contained in evening primrose oil, fish liver oil, or flaxseed oil, can
help reduce the inflammation of systemic or superficial fungal
infections. A dose of one of these oils is recommended as a daily
supplement.


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