What is it?
Tinea Versicolor is yeast normally found on the human skin which can get a little over-enthusiastic at times and result in a splotchiness to the skin. It’s especially triggered by heat & humidity, and and may also be a result of a weakened immune system.
Anyone that’s experienced the overgrowth of this otherwise normal skin fungus, knows what perpetual self-conscious misery it causes and the desperation that vanity can drive us to. And why not – your skin is probably the most prominent indicator of your overall health, and having nice skin is one of a precious few criteria that cross-culturally defines that elusive and relative notion of beauty.
The most common recommended treatment from doctors is antibiotics – which i was not so keen on taking, after a near-fatal experience involving a reaction to them, so I tried a number of things based on advice from friends, some internet research, and a couple of home remedy books – none of which qualify anything i say here as expert opinion, but i sharing experience is all part of building knowledge, so…
What finally worked?
UPDATE (2011): METHOD 2
Since my original post, I had a small re-occurrence on my upper inner right thigh and decided to try out a few other things. It’s difficult to say if this method is MORE efficacious, or it simply went away quicker because it was only about the size of a quarter — unlike my previous occurrence which took over my whole chest and back.
In the shower:
Before showering, apply an anti-dandruff shampoo containing Selenium Sulfide to the affected area. I used Selsun Blue. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes before rinsing it off.
Morning or before bed treatments:
Depending on your lifestyle, you may want to switch up Neem oil and Hydrogen Peroxide applications.
Neem oil: Dab the oil with a finger or cloth over the affected area. Let dry. I did this each morning before getting dressed. If your area of infection is quite large, this may prove inconvenient (or unpleasant to others) as Neem oil has a very pungent smell, akin to rotting grass. If that’s the case, then apply it at night (though you’ll probably want to change your sheets frequently… and put down some extra protection underneath lest your futon or mattress forever smell of Neem!)
Hydrogen Peroxide: I used use athletic tape to hold some gauze soaked in 3% hydrogen peroxide to my inner thigh, leaving it there to go to sleep. Because of the location this would have been annoying to deal with during the day, hence my choice to apply it at night.
Regardless of what you choose to do before bed and what you do in the morning, I think the important thing is that 1) topical treatments are permitted to linger on the infection, 2) they are dispersed throughout the 24 hr cycle of your day so as to inhibit the bacterial growth in their absence, and 3) they are used in combination — over the years I’ve learned that when working with herbs, the combination of a few methods seems to work the best.
METHOD 1 (summer/fall 2007)
Soak a close-fitting cotton t-shirt in 3% hydrogen peroxide, wring it out, and then wear it for 1 hour. Naturally, if you live in a cold climate you’ll want to put a sweater on over it (probably something white, and nothing you want to keep – peroxide tends to weaken and lighten clothing fibers; The composition of Hydrogen Peroxide is H2O2 – basically water, but that extra Oxygen molecule makes it unstable and wants to bond with other stuff – like bacteria! Acidophillis secretes Hydrogen Peroxide.
In the shower:
Exfoliate using an antibacterial soap in order to slough off dead skin and the top level of spores, so other topical treatments to get to the heart of the problem.
1 application of tea tree oil, followed by an application of Vicks Vaporub. Tea Tree is a natural antimicrobal. Vicks Vaporub contains Camphor and Menthyl, also topical analgesics, and the fact that it has a gel-like consistency means that you can apply it more liberally than tea tree oil, and it will linger on your skin. I noticed a greater difference the next morning if I applied both than if I applied the Tea Tree oil alone.
A pot-head like myself hates to admit it, but according to my research, marijuana is responsible for a certain level of immunosuppression – probably more in some people than in others, and laying off the ganja (At the time I normally smoked about a gram a day, but dropped down to half a joint once a week) definitely helped. There was definitely a correlation between when it would flair-up and subside and how much I was smoking. To play devil’s advocate, I typically increase consumption during times of stress – the greatest immunosuppressant of all – so it may have been correlated to that.
I love garlic & eat a lot of this stuff as it is, so it’s a little difficult for me to know whether or not this was a determining factor, but during my treatment, I upped my consumption a couple cloves (normally I consume about 1-2 cloves in my salads and sauces; To get at the Tinea, I would have 3-4 cloves per day) Many a website I read on the disorder recommended garlic. Something not to do, which I found as profoundly ineffective as it was physically unpleasant: grinding up 5 heads of garlic along with some oregano oil in my blender, and then smearing it across my entire torso… until I discovered that undiluted garlic applied directly to skin causes a dreadful burning sensation.
I took 1 one these a day – it’s a normal bacteria that lives in the intestines and vagina, keeping other bacteria in check. I did notice a correlation between when I would take it regularly and when I would stop, thinking the Tinea was gone.
Give it a couple weeks – maximum. If you don’t see any improvement after that, I would suggest a different route!