Fungal infections are one of the most common types of skin problems across the world. Let us learn about what they are, what causes them, and their preventive & remedial tips and recipes.
- What is the Fungal Infection of the Skin?
- What Causes Fungal Skin Infections?
- What Are the Symptoms of Skin Fungus?
- Home Remedies for Fungal Skin Infections
- Other Simpler Ways to Reduce the Severity of Fungal Infections
- When to Consult a Doctor
What is the Fungal Infection of the Skin?
Skin is the largest organ in our body. And the uppermost layer of the skin is composed of dead cells. Our body also hosts some friendly microbes and our relationship with these microbes are biologically described as “mutualism”. Fungi are often the members of this mutual relationship and a variety of them are found in the skin, but they don’t cause an infection, because their growth is kept in a system of checks and balances by our body.
However, if the system fails and fungi proliferate, they can cause skin infections. Along with this, external fungi can also infect on our skin especially under conditions of poor personal hygiene. These include ringworm infections on skin folds, neck and finger webs, dandruff infections on scalp causing itchiness and hair fall, athlete’s foot in the toes, to name a few. Example, the ringworm infections are caused by a fungal species called dermatophytes that attack keratinized tissues like skin, hair and nails. The characteristic of this infection is the annular growth of thickened skin patches and constant itching which at times is overwhelming.
What Causes Fungal Skin Infections?
The cause of fungal infections of skin could be due to a variety of factors including poor personal hygiene, underlying diseases, old age, immunity failure and certain drug therapies. Some fungal infections are occupational as well. For instance, people working in paddy fields are constantly in touch with water in the field and invite fungal infections which are drawn to moist germinating conditions. Some animal handlers and pet shop owners are often infected with sheep or canine fungi. Athlete’s foot, which is very common in athletes and affects the toe region majorly but can spread to hands or fingers easily, is caused by wearing tight-fitting shoes, which leads to continuous perspiration and provides germinating situations for fungal growth.
What Are the Symptoms of Skin Fungus?
- Constant itching on the affected areas
- Redness and erythema accompanied by swelling
- Hardened skin and nails, often along with plaque formation
- Uneven pigmentation of the skin, peeling of skin and skin rashes.
- Bumpy skin texture
- Flaky, dry skin
- Discharge from the infected sites often pus-like substance
- The annular pattern of growth is the characteristic of ringworm manifestation
- Oral thrush, diaper rashes in infants
- Yellowish discolouration of nails
Home Remedies for Fungal Skin Infections
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Especially active against the opportunistic pathogen called Candida albicans, Apple Cider Vinegar is very effective against fungal infections due to its acidic nature which helps to regulate pH levels of our skin.
2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar.
Take two teaspoons of this apple cider vinegar and put it into your bathtub. Bathe with this water. It will wash your skin off the accumulating fungal spores by its anti-fungal action.
For oral thrush caused by candidiasis, you can have a hot water apple cider vinegar gargle before bedtime. 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of hot water is sufficient.
You can have the vinegar bath 2-3 times a week if your skin is prone to fungal infections and for the oral thrush, gargling regularly till it goes away is a safe and inexpensive option.
2. Plain Yogurt
Yogurt is full of probiotics containing live lactobacillus strains which help to get rid of the fungi and help treat the fungal infection.
Yogurt that contains Lactobacillus.
- You can either apply yogurt topically to the affected areas of the skin.
- You can consume yogurt after meals to provide immunity to your body against fungal infections.
Topical application every day usually shows results within a week. And you can keep consuming yogurt for as long as you like because they are a treat for your taste buds and a medicine for your infections!
3. Lavender Oil
Imparting a soothing aroma, lavender oil has prominent antifungal properties. It works against both Candida and Dermatophytes infection.
Lavender essential oil, cotton balls, alcohol spirit, your regular body oil.
Add 2-3 drops of this lavender oil into your regular body oil and massage it over your body before or after taking a bath.
Dilute this essential oil with a carrier oil or water and use a cotton pad to lightly dab it over the affected areas of your body.
You can take the lavender oil bath regularly to keep infections at bay and keep applying the alcohol solution till the time the infection fades away.
4. Baking Soda and Epsom Salt
A valuable and detoxifying agent. Along with Epsom salt, this mixture provides significant relief against itchiness and swelling in the skin.
Cup for measurement, Epsom salt and bicarbonate soda
Add ½ cup soda bicarbonate had ½ cup of Epsom salt to a hot water bath and soak for 15-20mins. Bathe with this solution.
You can also add lavender oils and Eucalyptus oils for their additional anti-fungal properties to this mixture of bath water for better results.
You can do this regularly to keep fungal infections at bay.
5. Oregano Oil
Apart from seasoning your pizza slices, oregano essential oils have been found to eliminate candida infections. It contains thymol that dehydrates the yeast cells and kills them.
How to cure fungal infections on the face and body using oregano oil
Oregano essential oil, water
You can add 2-3 drops of oregano oil into a glass of water and drink it.
The oregano tincture in a glass of water can be consumed 2 times a day and the capsules can be consumed after a meal, lunch and dinner.
6. Tea-Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a topically active anti-fungal which can also soothe the irritations and itches caused by the infections due to its anti-inflammatory properties. However, it should not be used orally due to its systemic toxicity.
Tea-tree essential oil, water, Cotton pad, regular body oil
You can dilute 2-3 drops of this tea-tree oil in your regular body oil and massage it normally onto your skin before or after taking a bath.
Add a few drops of tea tree oil to a tub of water and soak your feet that have been infested by fungi.
Do this regularly until you get rid of the infection.
Garlic which has natural antifungal and antiseptic properties is especially effective against candida infections.
Warm compress, cotton gauze, garlic cloves, first aid tape
- Apply warm moist heat to the region affected by the fungus to open the pores.
- Apply mashed garlic cloves to a cotton gauze
- Put this cotton gauze onto the fungus infected area
- Tape it with a bandaid tape.
- Remove this dressing every 3-5hours and use fresh garlic cloves for a new dressing.
Alternatively, use garlic regularly in your meals to keep fungal infections at bay.
Use this regularly until you get rid of the fungus.
8. Coconut Oil
Inexpensive and highly moisturizing, this has significant antiseptic properties which treat the fungal infections effectively.
Cold pressed coconut oil, Cotton swabs.
Take 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil and microwave it for a few seconds. For mouth ulcers, swish this coconut oil into your mouth for 10seconds and spit it out. Don’t eat or drink anything for 30mins after that.
You can directly soak a cotton pad into the jar of coconut oil and apply it directly to the affected area.
Do it regularly until you get rid of the fungal infections.
Black tea and green tea both contain polyphenols and catechins that have prominent anti-fungal action.
Tea bags soaked, water
Apply a soaked tea bag onto the skin affected by the fungus.
You can alternatively drink green tea before going to bed.
You can drink green tea regularly to inhibit not only fungal but other infections at bay. Keep applying the tea bags until the inflammation reduces.
10. Olive Leaves
It contains Hydroxytyrosol and Oleuropein that have prominent antifungal properties.
Olive leaves, water, heat, olive capsules
Boil olive leaves and make tea out of it. Drink 1-3 cups of it every day.
You can alternatively take 500mg capsules after every meal.
Olive leaf tea is a healthy beverage and can be consumed everyday 2times.
Contains curcumin as the active ingredient which has antifungal properties and is one of the most prominent home remedies for fungal infection.
Ground turmeric, water.
- Boil turmeric and water in a mixture to make a turmeric tea and drink it as an anti-fungal.
- Make a paste of this and apply it topically to the affected area. The curcumin in turmeric fights fungi.
Keep applying it topically until the infection fades away. You can drink the turmeric tea 1-2 times daily.
12. Unsweetened Cranberry Juice
Cranberry juice inhibits the cell adherence property of candida albicans and helps to get rid of fungal infections.
Unsweetened cranberry juice, cotton balls
You can soak a cotton ball in unsweetened cranberry juice and dab it lightly over your fungal blisters. Make sure that it doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners as the yeast thrive well on these sugars.
You can always drink cranberry juice to avail maximum benefits in curing fungal infections.
You should keep using it until you get rid of the infection. As fungal infections are stubborn and recurrent, it is recommended that you keep applying it if you are prone to fungal infections.
13. Aloe Vera
It has a prominent anti-inflammatory and soothing effect on the irritated skin.
Fresh Aloe Vera leaf, Aloe Vera Gel
Apply the freshly extracted Aloe Vera gel on the irritated part of the skin.
Alternatively, you can use the aloe Vera gel from the market as a readymade paste to apply on hair to get rid of dandruff infections.
Apply the Aloe Vera gel on your skin at least 3 times daily for the best results.
Use the Aloe Vera gel on your scalp 2 times a week to ward off dandruff infection.
14. Lemongrass Oil
It is a good anti-fungal agent due to the presence of polyphenol components. Effective in the treatment of ringworm infections.
Lemongrass oil, regular body oil
Mix a few drops of lemongrass oil in your regular body oil and massage it before or after a bath.
Alternatively, you can dab the mixture of lemongrass oil and the carrier oil to soothe the affected area.
You can use lemongrass oil daily in your bath regime. Apply the solution 2-3 times daily till the fungal infection is healed.
Other Simpler Ways to Reduce the Severity of Fungal Infections
15. Properly Clean the Affected Area
Make sure that you use soap and water to clean the prone area in order to get rid of the fungal infection. Wear loose-fitting clothes that won’t make you perspire. Avoid wearing shoes at all times. Keep your feet dry and clean.
16. Take Proper Diet
Don’t forget to include green tea, fruits, and vegetables in your diet that contain abundant anti-oxidants and scavenger inactivating actions. A balanced diet goes a long way to ward off infections.
17. Avoid Contagions
It’s better to not share towels, combs and other personal items as they may carry the fungal flora.
Don’t cut back on relaxing. As stress doesn’t help with fungal infections. Light lavender scented candles for pleasant aromatherapy and sit back to relax.
When to Consult a Doctor
It would be wise to consult with a doctor in the following situations
- In case of pregnancy as some infections can harm the fetus
- The infection is severe and there are painful fissures or soreness
- The infection is recurrent and has occurred more than 4 times in a span of 1 year
- There are underlying disease conditions like diabetes or immune disorders.
In many of these cases, the doctors may recommend a skin ointment for fungal infection containing clotrimazole or other similar anti-fungal agents. Always go for the doctor’s advice if you feel the infection is serious or recurring. In other cases, we recommend you to adopt a wholesome diet, good hygiene and make use of the tips and remedies we’ve listed for you here, and you should be able to keep your skin healthy and free of fungal infections.