An introduction to the treatment of a fungal skin infection
The treatments of fungal skin infections are usually aimed at targeting the primary cause of the affliction – the candida strain of yeast.
However, the ways in which they set about accomplishing this goal can vary. Some solutions focus purely on easing the external itches and pains that come with the infection, whilst others attempt to boost the immune system and improve your gut environment.
There are a variety of approaches so it’s important that you consider what is likely to work best for you.
There are many different tried and tested home remedies when it comes to fungal skin infections.
Most of these treatments rely on a combination of positive lifestyle changes and natural solutions to ease your symptoms and eliminate the root cause of your distress.
- Relax: If you are suffering from a fungal skin infection, it is important that you take steps to remain calm and relaxed. This might sound impossible but hear us out – stress can be extremely detrimental for your immune system so you should be doing everything you can to minimalise any anxious or apprehensive emotions that you may be feeling. You can do this be making sure you get plenty of ‘me-time’ throughout the day. Focus on activities that help you to feel comfortable and at ease, whether it’s reading a good book or going on a brisk walk. You could even push the boat out a bit further and try taking up yoga or meditation, as both practices can teach you proper breathing techniques and how to soothe your nerves
- Good nutrition: What you eat can have an impact on your immune system and your symptoms, so you should be carefully considering what you put into your body. Try to reduce your intake of refined sugars and instead focus on plenty of anti-oxidant rich foods. These should help to support your immune system in the face of any nasty free radicals and can work to maintain your skin cells, strengthening your epidermis. Vitamins like vitamin C, A and B will be very beneficial at this time – you can find them in sources of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. If you’re unsure about how to incorporate these into a meal, you could try blitzing up one of our healthy smoothies, which are packed full of nutrients! It’s also very important that you consider anti-fungal foods like garlic, ginger and onions as these can work to limit the spread of candida yeast. Remember to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and you could try replacing your mid-morning cup of coffee with a caffeine-free substitute like Bambu
- Avoid contagions: Fungal skin infections can be highly contagious so it’s important that you try to minimalise your contact with the spores. It might seem anti-social, but if you know someone that is afflicted by the infection, try to limit your physical contact – this isn’t to appear cruel but most fungal infections are contracted by skin on skin contact. Be aware of your environment – fungal spores love dark, damp places so take precautions when you visit your local gym and make sure to dry yourself thoroughly after washing. Avoid sharing personal belongings with anyone – these can include towels, razors, hairbrushes or clothing - and make sure that you wash all your bed linen thoroughly
- Garlic paste: The anti-fungal properties of garlic have already been touched upon. The herb contains a valuable compound known as ‘allicin’ which can eliminate the candida yeast, as well as working as an ant-bacterial and anti-inflammatory agent. You can try to apply garlic topically to the affected area of your body – just make sure you dilute the herb first. Or, alternatively, you could try an allicin supplement like Allicin max, which can be taken internally as a capsule
- Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar has natural anti-fungal qualities, as well as being a popular anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory remedy. You can even take apple cider vinegar internally to boost your immune function, however if you are interested in taking the treatment topically, you must remember to dilute the solution first with water – usually one part vinegar, three parts water – before applying to your skin. Your Health Food Store stock a range of apple cider vinegar products if the remedy appeals to you
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil is a natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent, and can nourish dry or damaged skin. It can also hydrate the skin as well, and form a protective layer on the epidermis against in invasive pathogens. If you are interested in this remedy, please check out the range of coconut oil products available at Your Health Food Store
- Plain yoghurt: Plain yoghurt contains good levels of friendly bacteria which can help to regulate the population of candida spores. You can apply the yoghurt directly to the affected area – just make sure you leave a thin coating on for at least 10-15 minutes before washing off
- Lavender oil: Lavender oil can is a particularly beneficial treatment for children as it is a gentle solution, unlikely to irritate sensitive skin. The treatment contains natural anti-fungal properties, with research even implying that the oil can kill the candida fungi outright.1 However, you should always speak to your doctor first before taking this solution if you are breastfeeding or pregnant as lavender is an essential oil that should be avoided during this time.
There are many different herbal remedies that can have a positive effect on your fungal skin infection symptoms. Some solutions may be more focused on your external symptoms whilst others will look at improving your immune function and maintaining a good gut environment.
- Neem cream: Neem Cream is made from extracts of neem leaves, a common ingredient in a variety of herbal skin remedies. Neem is believed to have a soothing, calming effect on dry, damaged skin and can be taken by children over the age of 2. However, the solution may be unsuitable for pregnant/breastfeeding women or those that suffer from nut allergies
- Echinaforce®: Echinaforce® is a herbal remedy that is often used to treat colds and flu because of its ability to strengthen and support the immune system. The treatment is suitable for children over the age of 12 but caution is advised if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Molkosan®: Approximately 70% of your immune cells can be found in your digestive tract so it’s only natural that you should try to support that area of your body. Molkosan®is a prebiotic that is rich L+ lactic acid and can work to build a positive environment for your friendly gut bacteria
- Stress relief daytime: Stress Relief Daytime is a natural stress remedy made from extracts of Valerian and Hops. If you find that your fungal skin infection is impacting your psychological wellbeing, it might be an idea to start taking this tincture.
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Conventional medicines are usually aimed at eliminating the candida overgrowth and soothing your external symptoms. However, they can come with a range of unfortunate side-effects, so make sure that you speak to your doctor about any treatment option you may be considering.
- Anti-fungal creams: Anti-fungal creams can be bought over the counter and are usually recommended as the first line of treatment against fungal infections. However, if your symptoms persist for more than two weeks, you should consider speaking to your doctor for further treatment options
- Steroid creams: If basic anti-fungal creams do not work, your doctor may prescribe you a course of steroid creams. These are more powerful but can come with the risk of side-effects if used too persistently
- Oral tablets: Oral anti-fungal tablets might be recommended if other treatment options have failed. Itraconazole is a common medicine but it can be associated with a variety of unpleasant side-effects. If you feel that your medication is upsetting your symptoms in any way, please speak to your doctor.