Yeast infections are overgrowths of certain species of fungus, most notably Candida albicans. Due to lowered immune function and/or very poor hygiene, fungi can grow out of control on skin, particularly in the warm moist folds of the groin, underarms, breasts, and feet. Candida yeast infections can also grow internally within the mucous membranes of the mouth, intestines and vagina. Yeast infections of the skin can be treated with a variety of natural remedies, as well as topical anti-fungal medications. Aside from some mild and potentially embarrassing symptoms, yeast infections are not considered serious — although for people with reduced immunity they can be life threatening if the infection spreads to the blood and rest of the body.
EditDiagnosing a Skin Yeast Infection
- Look for red, itchy patches. Fungal/yeast infections of the skin usually appear as an irritated rash that’s red (sometimes grey), often scaly, and always itchy. The patches are slightly raised and can form little pustules if scratched a lot. On the exterior of the body, yeast grows best within folds of skin because it tends to be dark, moist and warm. As such, obese people and large-breasted women can be at higher risk of yeast infections of the skin if they have compromised immunity or practice poor hygiene.
- A Candida diaper rash within the folds and cleft of the buttocks is not uncommon among infants, especially those who sit in wet or dirty diapers for too long.
- Fungus also commonly invades scalp, fingernails and toenails, as well as the area between the toes and on the sole of the feet (commonly called athlete’s foot).
- Your doctor can confirm a diagnosis by scraping off a little of the rashy skin and looking at it under a microscope or placing it in a culture medium (petri dish) to grow.
- Be aware of musty odors. Another characteristic of yeast infections, and something that can readily distinguish them from other skin infections or rashes, is a musty odor. This odor is most pronounced when Candida yeast infects the inside of the mouth (called oral thrush) or vagina, but also fairly noticeable when it grows on the skin or within skin folds. The sweet and musty characteristic of yeast growth can sometimes be masked by or confused with regular body odors because they tend to proliferate near the underarms, groin and buttocks.
- Although fungi have a characteristic odor, they can change shape and appearance in response to environmental factors and the area of the body they infect. They can grow as round shapes (yeasts) or as long, thin threads called hyphae.
- Some fungi species reproduce by spreading small spores in the air, which can land on skin or be inhaled. This is why yeast/fungal infections usually begin on the skin or in the lungs.
- Understand the risk factors. Anyone can potentially get a yeast/fungal infection because they are so common in our environment, but people with really bad hygiene and those with weak immune systems are at much higher risk. In general, opportunistic infections (fungal, viral and bacterial) are much higher in people with weak immune systems because they have far less ability to fight them off. As such, microorganisms such as fungi/yeast can be opportunistic and take advantage of their weakened host.
- The main causes of weakened immunity are age (being very young or old), chronic stress, chronic malnourishment, immune system infections such as HIV/AIDS, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, over-medication (with antibiotics or corticosteroids, for examples) and chemotherapy for cancer.
- People who use public baths and swimming facilities without foot protection are also at risk of fungal infections of the feet and toenails, which can then spread to other parts of their body.
EditTreating the Infection Naturally
- Use coconut oil. Coconut oil contains three different fatty acids (caprylic, capric & lauric acids) that are fungicidal, which means they kill fungi such as Candida and other species. These fatty acids within coconut oil kill yeast by destroying their cell walls, so it’s very unlikely and difficult for fungi to gain resistance against them.
- Buy a good quality coconut oil (it’s likely to be a solid instead of a liquid) and rub some it into your yeast infection 3x per day. You should see results (less redness and itching) within a week.
- Coconut oil is also a popular remedy for fighting systemic (internal) Candida yeast infections, although its taken orally in such situations.
- Coconut oil is also effective against bacterial skin infections and other kind of skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, which can look similar to yeast/fungal skin infections.
- Try tea tree oil. Application of tea tree oil, an extract of melaleuca alternifolia, can also be effective on yeast/fungal infections of the skin because it has strong antimicrobial properties and works well as a fungicide. Tea tree oil also boosts immunity, which can be helpful in preventing initial infections and re-infections of Candida and other fungi. Start with 2-3 drops of the tea tree oil on your skin infection, 3x daily for at least a couple of weeks and see how it works.
- Tea tree oil has been a popular antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory for many years in Australia, but has become better known in the U.S. over the last decade or so.
- Tea tree oil can cause both skin irritation and allergic reactions in some people who are especially sensitive, but the prevalence is rare. As such, test a little on some healthy skin before applying it to your yeast infection.
- Consider oil of oregano. Oil of oregano contains a couple of different compounds (carvacrol and thymol) that are both strong fungicides. These compounds completely inhibit Candida and other fungi via dehydration — they dry out and eventually die. Oil of oregano is quite strong and can cause a burning sensation on skin, so make sure to dilute it with vitamin E or some cod liver oil — water won’t work well to dilute because it doesn’t mix with oils.
- Mix 1-2 drops of oregano oil with the same quantity of vitamin E or fish oil and apply it your skin infection 3x daily for a couple weeks and make note of the progress.
- Taken sublingually (in the mouth under the tongue), oil of oregano seems to stimulate the immune system and help prevent most types of infections.
- Keep your immune system strong. With any type of infection (fungal, bacterial or viral), true prevention and protection depends on a strong and healthy immune response. Your immune system is made up of specialized white blood cells that are designed to search for and destroy potential pathogens such as fungi. However, when your immune system is weakened due to the above-mentioned reasons, disease-causing microorganisms can grow and spread virtually unchecked. Thus, focus on boosting your natural immunity in order to combat yeast infections and stay healthy.
- Getting more quantity and better quality of sleep, eating more fresh produce, eating less refined sugars (sodas, candy, deserts), reducing your alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, practicing good hygiene and exercising regularly are all methods of keeping your immune response strong.
- Vitamin and herbal supplements that can boost immune system function include: vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, echinacea and olive leaf extract.
- If natural remedies are not effective for your yeast infection of the skin, then consult your doctor about anti-fungal medicated creams and ointments.
- There are many over-the-counter drying powders, creams and lotions that contain the fungicides, miconazole or clotrimazole, and they tend to work nearly as well as prescription medications.
- If your fungal/yeast infection is on your feet, then make sure to keep them clean, cool and dry. Change your socks regularly and wear shoes that can “breathe”, such as leather types.
- To prevent Candida diaper rash, change your infants diapers regularly and dry their bottom with baby powder (or nystatin powder) before putting a new diaper on.
- If you are overweight and have trouble reaching all your skin folds in the shower, then soak in a Epsom salt bath instead. The salt deters skin infections of all types and the magnesium will soothe your muscles.
- Treat a Yeast Infection Naturally
- Diagnose and Treat Your Dog’s Itchy Skin Problems
- Treat a Bacterial Infection
EditSources and Citations
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